How digital health benefits patients and communities

iPhone-and-stethoscope

The shift from legacy IT to digital technologies across social, mobile, analytics, and cloud — and beyond — promises to continue catalyzing new business models and disruptive ideas. As it transforms industries, digital innovation also has the power to generate social goods on a global scale. Some of the clearest of these human benefits now start with next-gen technologies that help people stay healthy and live longer. A look at today’s care landscape suggests how digital health can support wellness and sustainability, now and in the future.

From telemedicine to analytics

Telemedicine solutions have quickly proven viable for patients and caregivers, from real-time health consultations by e-mail or videoconference to remote dialysis monitoring and telepharmacies. People who face geographical and other barriers to healthcare are now empowered to access digital clinical workspaces as they learn prevention strategies, receive diagnoses, ask questions, and monitor their own care over time, all without leaving their communities.

Similarly, medical-grade wearables, which take consumer fitness-tracking devices a step further, will soon provide powerful, patient-friendly advantages with respect to convenience, immediacy, and self-management. These app-enabled devices can record a patient’s ECG activity or even provide researchers with crowd-sourced snapshots of community health.

Analytics is another promising area of digital health that is just beginning to take shape. According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), healthcare providers are greenlighting big data projects to harness business intelligence and care insights hidden in massive information flows. Key goals are to use predictive analytics to forecast patient outcomes after surgery and assess risks of heart failure and diabetes, among other conditions. Analytics can also help identify cost-control methods. By gathering electronic data over decades, HBR notes, the U.S. Veterans Health Administration has created a workable predictive system through which nurse managers identify the right outpatient service mix for each patient.

Reinventing care

As digital health evolves, idea incubators are bringing clinical, technological, and business expertise together to reimagine medical pathways. Through a program created by Massachusetts General Hospital, for example, 200 coders participated in a Zika Innovation Hackathon, developing 15 proposed responses to the mosquito-borne virus in just 2 days. The hospital’s CAMTech group, which organized the event, has also led hackathons to uncover technology-based and other approaches to stemming opioid abuse and providing efficient ventilation systems for newborn babies. Another recent hackathon sought to generate proposals for affordable medical technologies to support cancer patients.

At DXC, we continually seek to harness digital health capabilities in ways that improve outcomes for our clients’ patients. With our Pre-Hospital Patient Journal solution for the Government of Denmark, we help make it possible for paramedics to document vital signs and transmit ECG data with a mobile device while en route to the hospital. This nationally adopted digital tool gives emergency-room doctors real-time access to information that can help them prioritize care and save lives. DXC Open Health Connect creates a connected ecosystem that radically improves the flow of data — the way you access and integrate information to show complete and up-to-date personalized patient information. The platform allows for the deployment of DXC’s mobile-based system of engagement solutions such as PatientAide, NurseAide and ClinicalAide, which drive appropriate behavioral changes in the healthcare ecosystem. DXC also provides multiple NHS trusts with our Lorenzo cloud-based electronic medical record (EMR) solution, enabling caregivers to integrate and securely use sensitive patient information.

Sustainable advances

In the future, researchers suggest, digital health may help hospitals improve the environmental sustainability of their operations. As more providers adopt EMRs, for example, they will be able to eliminate vast quantities of paper files and charts along with mountains of x-ray film. In formulating their “green healthcare” strategies, enterprises will need to weigh these zero-landfill benefits against the prospect of increased carbon emissions for data center usage.

Using telemedicine channels that enable patients to avoid drives to medical facilities for consultations can remove cars from the road and reduce carbon emissions associated with traditional, face-to-face medical processes. What are some other ways in which digital health can support sustainability — not just for a single facility or medical campus but for the community as a whole?

McKinsey finds that 75 percent of all patients expect to use digital services one day. As caregivers take steps to deliver these services, digital health is poised to reach new technological milestones and define an even greater multitude of socially responsible frontiers.

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