Shifting from a focus on data to outcomes through cloud-based digital health platforms

by Mutaz Shegewi, Research Director, Provider IT Transformation Strategies, IDC Health Insights

Healthcare is in the dawn of a new digital era where new challenges give rise to new opportunities. Patients are changing, business models are emerging and technologies must answer to the call. The call is to empower healthcare stakeholders to engage more effectively and realize value-based and consumer-driven healthcare. To do so, organizations must champion patient experiences by enabling new digital capabilities, operational efficiencies and enhanced levels of clinical effectiveness. Cloud-based digital platforms offer a compelling way forward by driving “digital nativity” across the organization in ways that can realize innovative workflows and care journeys that maximize on value and respond to consumers.

Cloud-based platforms help kickstart the transformation journey by instilling an inside-out perspective of the organizational digital health IT endeavor. Here, consumers can digitally engage with providers while actively generating data and being encouraged to make positive behavioral changes throughout their engagement cycles. With better engaged patients and experiential care modalities embedded system-wide through a cloud-based platform, the right decisions to drive better outcomes, higher patient satisfaction and effective after-care plans can take shape. Cloud-based digital health platforms can also drive change by shaping a more converged and intelligent technology scenario. Traditionally siloed and batched processes focused on a single patient encounter become superseded by intelligent care pathways that shift the focus from data to outcomes.

A blurring of the boundaries between healthcare organizations (payers, providers, life sciences) is already forming in recognition of “going digital” and the important role patients can play in their health and care through technology. Cloud-based digital health platforms offer a powerful and highly advantageous model that can embrace these developments and set a course for a more digitally enabled future context. As an example, these platforms can present better options for the treatment of chronic conditions, such as diabetes, by facilitating precision medicine alongside orchestrating care management, medication adherence and patient awareness and engagement (see figure below).

A diabetic patient journey: Delivering outcomes on three levels

Source: IDC, 2018

However, the key to delivering on the digital promise of cloud-based platforms will only be through ensuring care is more humanized and not just digitized. This can be realized by platforms that benefit patients with more convenience, personalization and value. Silos must be disrupted to come together (e.g., between business, operations and clinical) and form new initiatives around integrating social determinants of health that leverage consumer and economic data to complete the picture of the patient as a person. In addition, the cloud can enable the systems at play to scale in secure ways through added privacy, confidentiality and cyber resilience measures. These efforts can collectively drive better engagements, relationships, experiences and in turn, humanized care.

The next five years will see the importance of cloud-based digital health platforms upshift dramatically as the industry moves into the second chapter of the 3rd Platform, or what IDC calls the “multiplied innovation” chapter. This chapter sees new operating models built around cloud-based platforms and ecosystems that support connected and collective innovation among “communities” of digital innovators within and outside the organization. The result is a new generation of digital healthcare services that reaches consumers in far more ubiquitous, faster and personalized ways (see figure below).

Conceptual model of the digital health platform: The patient journey as the health intelligent core

Source: IDC, 2018

The future for healthcare is now, and it is important for organizations to be “future-ready” for the age of the digital patient. Digital health platforms can create the scenario needed to better integrate traditional and next-generational interoperability services for analytical and operational workloads that leverage historical data (i.e., patient records, clinical research, reimbursements) and data streams (from medical devices, logistics systems, wearables, etc.) to assemble new information bridges and streams. The ensuing information fabric can better support real-time decision making and intelligently driven workflows while empowering organizations to gain elastic infrastructure properties that make future gains towards better levels of business agility.

Healthcare executives must align strategies and roadmaps towards realizing innovative models of care driven by cloud-based platforms. To do so requires not only better strategic alignment and buy-in from stakeholders, but also a lasting commitment towards the goal of digital transformation by formulating and executing on a vision that embeds transformative innovation and investment roadmaps. To move forward together towards pursuing new business models driven by the cloud and to leverage existing data into meaningful use cases, requires a stakeholder integration approach with an outcomes focus. The data is there; now is the time to shift the focus from data-rich to data-driven. Cloud-based digital health platforms can lay down the foundations for that transition and digitally transform the ethos of healthcare organizations from traditional to next-generational innovation.

Read more about the journey and outcomes in the IDC paper, “Innovators Will Be Heroes: Shifting the Paradigm from a Focus on Data to Outcomes Through Cloud-Based Digital Health Platforms.”

Mutaz Shegewi leads the provider research practice at IDC Health Insights covering topics of most relevance to healthcare provider organizations looking to digitally transform and become more digitally native than their competition. Mutaz advises the executive, clinical, and technical leadership of the world’s foremost health information technology supplier and buyer organizations by producing data-driven research and thought-leadership insights that help to navigate strategic challenges in health information technology and transform complexity to clarity in decision-making that would decrease costs, enhance quality, optimize access, improve patient safety, and champion patient experience. Mutaz is passionate about strengthening healthcare systems through the dynamic interrelations between technology, patients, and providers by combining industry, professional, academic, technical and global expertise in healthcare, policy, business, management, research, consulting, and medicine.

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