The healthcare industry has historically been resistant to change and slow to adopt modernized, integrated and technology-driven processes and procedures. For years it was able to get away with this and continue to do business. However, COVID-19 has served as a forcing function for advancements to be made and steps to be taken leveraging innovation. Having firsthand witnessed how frustrating and outdated the healthcare model is today, I can sympathize with patients who encounter data silos every day and are unable to get the information they need – especially in a timely manner.
Five years ago, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time, I worked for a well-known hospitality company in an innovation role. I loved my job, and the thought of leaving never crossed my mind. But after going through the radiation treatment process with my wife and witnessing the pain points she experienced as a patient, and I did as her caregiver and partner, it became clear how desperately the industry needed change. And from my perspective, technology had to be the driver for real meaningful transformation to make the process digital.
After that realization, I decided to change industries and make it my mission to reimagine healthcare. Putting people at the center of the work we do – the core tenet of design thinking – has remained my north star and guiding principle since day one. That means thinking about innovation from multiple lenses for the healthcare system: for the patient and for the provider.
While transformation in the industry is just getting started, 2020 has been a record year for the healthcare industry overall. COVID-19 certainly accelerated and put the gas pedal on innovation in key areas, such as improving business and payment models and leveraging technology to offer new services that focus on human-centered innovation and prioritize holistic care alongside clinical, medical services.
Telehealth, access to managed, remote care for chronic illnesses to keep patients out of the hospitals and preventative care resources are other innovative programs that have taken off in 2020. The knowledge and collective, swift work of medical professionals, researchers, venture capitalists and many others have rallied together to set the foundation for the reimagined healthcare system we are creating.
As we go forward into the end of an election cycle and into a new calendar year, I predict a few trends that will shape this reimagined healthcare system. And while some will take longer than others to fully take shape, all address some of the key pain points that exist today:
- Interoperability and standardization across medical records: to-date, sharing and exchanging medical records between all of your doctors and healthcare providers has been nearly impossible because they all operate independently, and the data exists in silos. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a glaring example for the need to access and share records digitally across your providers.
- Remote managed care for patients with chronic conditions: New care-delivery platforms and in-home care for chronically ill people can provide community-based, physician-led care to patients who have complex health issues and multiple, specific chronic illnesses. Through delivered home-based medical and behavioral care, social support services will offer patients 24/7 with routine visits, urgent care visits and post-discharge home visits for patients to ensure a safe transition from the hospital or skilled nursing setting back to their place of residence. As a result of COVID, patients are looking for these types of options.
- Access to resources for preventive and holistic care: Online and in-person programs to support patients’ general well-being, preventive care, and disease reversal are a must. Leveraging the power of your lifestyle and combining it with research and technology, will enable people to take full control in their health journey. With the cost of healthcare rising, providing tools to prevent or reverse diseases that could be costly for patients and the system is a win-win.
As trying and turbulent as the pandemic has been, COVID-19 has not only created a rare time when everyone is “in it together” but it forced a complete overhaul of the healthcare system whether it was ready or not.
In the coming years, we will start to see these trends emerge and take hold as outdated business models are left behind for newer improvements. Human-centered, healthcare innovation that captures medical and holistic care is what we need most.