Back to the Future: The Future of Healthcare is Now

Abhinav Shashank
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                                                                                                    Healthcare had no data before

                                          Healthcare had no records of patients’ history

                       Then one day… Health care became costlier and non-interoperable

It was a long day for the physician at the office. The desk is cluttered with clipboards, papers scattered all over, patients lining up outside the office – the physician just couldn’t manage available time between seeing patients and finishing off all the mandatory tedious administrative work. Most days, the physician has to spend hours at the end of each day ticking off “necessary” administrative tasks.

However, with the number of patients increasing every day and the claims paperwork gathering dust on the table, 24 hours suddenly didn’t seem long enough.

As soon as the physician entered the home, a weary look on the face made it clear that the old patient was in a fix. As it turns out, moments before physician returned, the patient had another encounter with an old running disease; a long running trouble. The patient had been looking to find a simple, hassle-free solution to this problem by seeing a specialist, on the recommendation of the regular doctor, and that one episode alone came with numerous challenges: contacting the doctor, sending medical records to the specialist, obtaining lab test results from a distant lab, and the biggest of all- bringing in multiple sets of relevant clinical information from various sources to give one complete picture.

The physician couldn’t bear looking at the patient’s strained face, struggling to understand the challenges along the way and trying to find a way to navigate this complex landscape that was healthcare. The physician began thinking about all that had been done and all that could be done. The physician tried to see every patient they could and guide them in the best possible way, they tried to keep errors on their end to a minimum, they strongly believed in communicating to their patients and following up to remind them about their visits and medications. The physician even made use of those EHRs, fellow health systems were using. Where did they come up short? What could possibly be done to make things better for the patient?

The physician kept pondering how the challenges the patient mentioned, could be troubling other patients as well. A patient’s clinical information was scattered and had to be brought in and put together to form a complete picture. Not only was that task manual, tiresome and time-consuming, it came with its own set of errors and redundancies. There had been cases where a single patient was registered under more than one record. Referrals had become as annoying and burdensome – locating a specialist, sharing vital patient information over a fragmented channel, exchanging lab test results and orders, documenting that information and update records yourself, etc.

Another major challenge was figuring out what to do after the patient has been discharged. Other physicians working with them often faced questions like, “how to follow-up with the patient for the next visit?”, “how to remind patients of their medications?”, “how to inform the health coaches and nurses of any recent developments?” and whatnot.

Then there were a new set of troubles. There were new laws and payment models that the administration had brought on the frontlines, and physician would have to comply with several measures, drive better care, and strive to outdo themselves.

The new scenario everyone was talking about – value-based reimbursement that aimed to put quality over quantity in healthcare was something the physician agreed with. However, if the challenges the physician just put on a mental list persisted, they would most often lose money. Not to mention how the quality of care will erode and the costs, skyrocket.

Physician jumped out to fight these troubles. High time something was done.

Physician walked through the brisk evening and went to a place a solution most definitely could be found. The sign on the door read, “healthIT.”

HealthIT, or as physician used to say, “health IT guy” was an eccentric scientist, though physician thought he was on to something. healthIT had hooked him up with several inventions, and physician was sure healthIT would have some solution to this new problem. A frail old face looked out the door, breeze blowing away raspy hair- no one could imagine this person would have anything in an old, dingy apartment that could solve the issues physician was facing.

Physician began talking and told healthIT all about how healthcare was broken. How the care is disoriented, and there is no coordination in care delivery. There is data, a huge amount of data, but physicians and health systems fail to acquire it and derive meaning out of it well in time. Either physicians don’t have complete access to a holistic patient record, or there are duplicate records. If only there was a way to exchange and integrate data seamlessly, if only there was a way to have a vague idea about a patient’s future health based on present trends, if only risks and their effects could be determined beforehand.

Future Of healthcare-02

 

HealthIT grinned, placed one hand on physician’s shoulder, and began the introduction of the futuristic world. HealthIT introduced physician to little, but significant ideas that had the potential to change how care would be delivered in the future. The future of healthcare would have comprehensive, end-to-end solutions that health systems could deploy; the one that took the incoming data from no matter how many sources, and integrate them to put together a holistic, 360 patient profile.

The future where physician wouldn’t have to worry about putting away three hours for documenting basic clinical and financial information; the one where physicians would have a clear idea of their patient’s health as well as the performance of their health system; the one where every vital information is shared and available easily, at the right time. A future where self-learning algorithms and powerful analytics do the heavy-lifting, leaving physicians to develop a one-on-one interaction with their patients. No episode could impair any patient with any amount of challenge – value-based care would only be a step away.

Physician couldn’t believe what was happening! HealthIT was beaming with satisfaction and optimism. Although physician had a doubt remaining, “HealthIT, I don’t think we have enough paper to make a note of all of this.”

 

“Paper? Where we’re going, we don’t need paper,” HealthIT grinned. “A click of a button and you deliver care at the doorstep, quality paramount.”

 

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