By Dhiren Patel
So I touched upon some the issues facing healthcare today, now let’s talk about the positive and how we can innovate healthcare so that it is more efficient, provides better outcomes, and costs less.
Technology and data can play a huge part in this, as I mentioned we have the technology to order food on our phones, email, view data. Health Care has to take advantage of this progress to play an important role in providing the best care possible. Here are some basic tools and ideas of how this can be done as well as the challenges faced in implementing those ideas.
Smart tracking devices inform healthcare
Health technology like the FitBit, Apple Watch, scales, blood pressure monitors, and sleep trackers that connect and record data to your phone empowers people to take control of their own health. It can provide data on how you are functioning day to day to medical providers. This data can help assess your risk level for chronic diseases and what you can do every day to improve your health and make better daily habits. This a resource to tap into in analyzing how activity and sleep are affecting the patient’s blood pressure, blood glucose levels and weight. While there are many improvements to be made, it can be part of a holistic health care plan. – This is where you would need data scientists to give you a picture of what this data means because doctors do not have time to analyze the data themselves.
Doctors should know nutrition
Doctors spend years in school and they do not want more to study, but nutrition is something that has been glossed over yet remains extremely important. If nutrition is ignored, people would be dying from allergies, malnutrition, diabetes. Focusing on a person’s diet and nutrition has been found to have a positive effect on their medical health. Another way to tackle this issue is for a healthcare plan to include nutritionist consultations and investing more on preventing diseases.
Invest in preventing, rather than cure
Many of today’s biggest diseases can be prevented if we focus more attention on prevention vs curing, this is where the pharmaceutical and food industry plays its part. If fewer people have the disease, fewer people will need medicine. We need to reform health care so that people are not suffering from diseases that are largely preventable. This requires a cohesive health plan with each part playing their role. A nutrition program for kids to better educate them and their parents on what to eat that rooted in real science and data. A healthcare plan that includes health coaches, nutritionist, doctors working together to ensure people are staying healthy. Having people change their habits if they are poor or providing positive feedback if they are doing well. Using all the tools technology provides to better understand you patient on an individual level and being able to understand the data you get from these tools. A DNA test to determine how you tolerate food, what you are allergic too and are you predisposed to any conditions.
Using technology in the Doctor’s office and Hospital
This means using tools that better workflows and rounding in hospitals so that you know what’s happening with each patient and it’s streamlined across all the providers in the hospital. An Electronic Health Record (EHR) system that’s simple to use and understand is crucial so that information can be passed easily and effectively. This will save money on readmission’s, medical errors, and negligence. You don’t want to spend time guessing what the doctor wrote about a patient in critical condition. This is something that I have experienced first-hand with my grandmother just last year. The doctor assumed when she walked that we had signed an do not resuscitate (DNR) and proceeding not to provide any care for her until we brought this issue up. If we had not, it’s very likely she would not have survived. We need to be able to share healthcare data across multiple systems and network to not only help stem collaboration but to better help care for a patient. Simple technological fixes in communication can go a long way in reducing healthcare costs and increases the quality of care.
Access to healthcare is a huge point of need around the world and with the ability to connect to internet we open up the possibility to access healthcare from anywhere and telemedicine can be huge in underserved communities. With our technology today we can bring the doctor and care team to you through your phone, computer or tablet.
I’ll offer up some more ideas as well as companies moving forward!
“If you think about how healthcare is delivered, it’s on an ad hoc basis. Someone comes into a hospital, someone comes into a pharmacy, someone comes into a doctor. But beyond those touchpoints, the patients are on their own. There’s no real continuity of care.”
– Christopher A. Viehbacher – CEO, Sanofi