Technology in healthcare has reached a new precipice. We may be a ways from the medical breakthroughs on Star Trek, but the healthcare industry, where once continuously behind in technology, has started to catch up. The industry is moving away from the constraints of working in analog systems and on paper and toward a digital renaissance.
We find this makes it an exhilarating time in the industry because healthcare technology and consumer technology are creating new opportunities to provide better care and logistics. Our team is always looking for new ways to solve a problem by combining the more regulated health focus with a boundless technology focus.
A multitude of changes in both the healthcare industry and technology capabilities allows us to mobilize our proprietary technology platform and our national clinician network in a unique way to improve outcomes, share better data more quickly, and find new solutions through better analysis. Our technology focus is part of the core of what we do and who we are; it has enabled us to do unique things in the industry and supports the largest mobile clinician network in the United States.
Why Technology is So Important to Healthcare Today
Currently, there is a significant push to catch up as an industry, driven by both external and internal pressures. Historically, the industry has fallen behind, utilizing paper and outdated systems longer than most sectors.
The government is pushing many in the space toward more robust digital systems, such as the electronic health record (EHR). As healthcare catches up on digitizing, it becomes a competitive advantage for health systems and other supportive companies to innovate and utilize technology in new ways as well. Data is currently one of the biggest drivers for innovation and advancement in the industry.
Advances in Data for Healthcare
Due to the shift to digital platforms, data sharing is becoming much more prevalent. This creates new and exciting opportunities for many healthcare companies such as big data and machine learning. Big data is here and it’s finally possible to analyze patient data on a national, or even global level to look for patterns in health, disease states, and treatments. This is especially exciting when it comes to social determinants of health, an increasing focus that has far-reaching effects.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Are Coming With Big Data
Both machine learning and AI are going to be vital to treating chronic conditions in the coming years. The amount of data that can now be accessed from common platforms enables both machine learning and AI to be utilized in healthcare.
Both tools help analyze and process data faster and more accurately than anyone could manage by hand. Currently, machine learning and AI supports our services by selecting the right members for outreach, comprehensive analytics, and predictive modeling. These tools find insights that would have been missed and will set the standard for data use in the creation of new medication and treatment modalities from here on out.
Moving From Reactive to Proactive
Data isn’t just more readily accessible now, the industry is moving from being restricted to a reactive mindset and has the freedom to move to a proactive one. Both healthcare technology and consumer technology are enabling this shift.
With innovations like smartwatches giving long-term access to vitals, it’s far easier to find patterns in health that can not only be monitored but also help determine health trajectories for individual health plan members. These trajectories can be used to determine preventative care plans, such as lifestyle changes, well before the need for expensive and high-risk interventions such as surgery or medications.
These tools may help set the course for addressing the growing problem of chronic condition management in the United States. A larger focus on preventative care can be one of the key ways to reverse the trend of increasing healthcare costs.
New Ways to Interface with Patients
Advances in technology are enabling clinicians to interact with patients in new ways and without a cumbersome laptop or computer that acts as a barrier to personal face-to-face time. The advent of tablets such as the iPad has enabled a new way of capturing data, all while acting more like a clipboard than a computer. All of these features used to be a suitcase of tools, and now it’s just one easy-to-use device.
One of the most exciting aspects of using tablets is the live data sync. After performing a clinical exam or treatment like a diabetic retinal eye exam during the health risk evaluation (HRE), the data can be viewed immediately, providing the evaluating clinician with real-time, expanded access to the member’s risk and condition data.
Technology is Becoming Less Cumbersome to Develop
Historically, developing technology was a monolithic affair, and small updates came with a lot of risk. Any changes were drawn out affairs, with updates occurring annually or biannually. Updates now happen with much higher frequency and can be implemented as needed without the same risks as before. Today you can compartmentalize technology into smaller applications and APIs by their use cases. They can be mixed and matched to create new solutions as the industry advances, strategic initiatives shift internally, or as a reaction to changes in government regulations.
All of this allows our team to adapt and utilize individual APIs wherever there is an opportunity, which is so exciting. One feature or application can be used in multiple ways and where it’s needed most. This versatility allowed us to create our Signify Office solution from the success we already found with our HREs. The platform we had previously developed for our mobile clinician network informed this new development, and we were able to use and expand on existing assets.
What These Shifts in Technology Have Meant for Building a Culture
We believe that it’s important that technology isn’t only a feature or a service for a company, but is also a part of its culture as well. Technology has been so crucial to the history of who we are, enabling our growth, and the expansion of our mobile clinician network. It has turned hurdles and problems into opportunities that our team is excited to solve.
For example, smaller and more powerful technology has enabled our clinicians to provide personalized care without the hardware getting in the way. By utilizing tablets and an intuitive interface our software ensures that physicians in our network - or in a health plan’s network - can focus on the person in front of them.
Here at Signify Health, we’ve purposefully created teams that mix healthcare focused individuals with technology-focused individuals. Combining the more regulated nature of our industry with the progressive e-commerce and consumer mindsets creates a culture that’s very motivating in the way that it solves unique problems.
We Are Excited
Technology is changing healthcare for the better, and we are excited to be here. We believe it’s important that healthcare and technology mesh, since both realms conceive new ideas that complement each other and are relevant to patients, clinicians, and health plans.
Our dedication to technology is baked into what we do, and the technology we create and utilize daily. It helps us do what we do better, which is provide personalized care where people need it most.