Surfing the 3 Waves of Digital Healthcare

Published on October 4, 2016

“Healthcare is the last industry that has not adopted digital technology in any major way to help deliver its services. And it’s becoming challenging for physicians and consumers to actually manage care without those digital tools.”

– David Schlanger, CEO, WebMD (2015)

Many Americans have a very simple view of healthcare. They get sick, they go to the doctor, and they get better. In reality, this is a very reactive way of looking at the healthcare system – and one of the reasons that it’s in so much trouble.

Health outcomes are linked to many factors, very few of which are tested in a doctor’s office. Mental health correlates to the number of social connections a person has. Weight and BMI track with distance to a grocery store, park, or fitness center.  Even the likelihood of developing a serious health condition can be related to owning a dog or cat, a tendency to spend time outdoors, or the presence of trash in the community.  Factors which lead to negative health outcomes are called risk factors, and those which lead to positive outcomes are known as protective factors.

Waves.jpgDigital healthcare can help us understand and manage these factors. One writer describes three waves of digital healthcare, including:

  1. Adoption / Use of Digital Platforms
  2. Personalization of Care for Patients
  3. Individual Care Management using Digital Insights

The adoption of digital platforms includes the transition to electronic health records (EHR), and the privacy and security of these records. But it also includes the ability to merge other sources of data, including behavioral, social, environmental, and consumer – in the same way as retail organizations learn to identify a consumer’s preferences.

Healthcare organizations can use a broad spectrum of data to understand the patients whom they serve, and personalize the care for each patient. There is a direct link between the patient experience and the health outcome– and a need to know which factors help the patient to get better – or to stay healthy.

But even more telling, many patients don’t know which factors affect their health – or how to control them. A proactive approach to health works best for these patients. Education, market outreach, and community support are as important as clinical care. And sharing the data helps patients see results – and see health systems as partners in managing their care.

Digital healthcare is a vital part of managing patient risk and improving patient outcomes. Clinical data alone only tells part of the story. By merging data from many different sources, providers can learn how to reach their patients in the digital age – and how to help them make a positive change in their health.

For more information on using data to understand, predict, and manage patient risk, download our Population Risk Selection whitepaper.

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