The most evolutionary change coming to hospital rooms of the future is that they will be in your own home. For certain acute conditions, the hospital room will come to you. You will be able to convalesce in the comfort of your own home by using portable technology and next-generation healthcare equipment. This will allow for high quality care to be rendered in a person's home by medical professionals both onsite and virtually.
The first thing we ought to recognize is that mobile is now part of the fabric — every day in everybody’s life. So if you’re not looking at mobile solutions, then you’re not really looking at all solutions.
In 10 years the electronic medical record will be the minor player, in terms of where a person’s health history lives. Most of that information will be kept on the phone or in a secure cloud, and the patient will be highly engaged with collecting, curating and sharing that data. Most doctor visits will be like calling up a YouTube meets virtual human docs and there will also be an aspect of virtual reality.
The most promising technology is AI combined with what we call "digital endpoints" for each service we provide. Digital endpoints are technologies like online scheduling, asynchronous video visits, and voice and application programming interfaces. The combination of AI and these endpoints mean that we can enable more sophisticated navigation, new business models, reduce friction and improve care delivery.
The physical space of the hospital will be gradually digitized until virtually every object and sensor becomes part of the so-called 'Internet of Things.' These innovations can broadly be categorized as either clinical or experiential, though some will be both. Clinical innovations will involve gathering ever more "signals" from the patient (infrared, sound, electrophysiology, pulse-oximeter, facial expression, etc.) to be sifted in real time through machine-learning algorithms that will help physicians refine their understanding of diagnosis and prognosis in ways we can only imagine today. Experiential innovations will allow health systems and their partners to take a page from Netflix, using the engagement opportunity of the acute care episode to stream digital content to patients and families through TVs, tablets and their own devices from home.
Transformation implies an order of magnitude improvement in performance, as opposed to incremental improvement. Digital implies the convergence of technologies in which the total is greater than the sum of the parts. Thus, digital transformation unlocks breakthrough or innovative business performance through the synergistic use of technology. Said another way, digital transformation is what turns the lead into gold.
With respect to healthcare, I see digital transformation as a formula: simplified patient journey + streamlined employee workflow = a memorable experience. The ability to distill the patient touch points down to only what is necessary, make the behind-the-scenes workflow less cumbersome (reducing silos and friction points) and accelerate the entire throughput with carefully selected and complementary technology is the essence of digital transformation. Process is always upstream from technology, and any digital effort should take that into consideration.
If we can reduce the cost and improve the quality of medical technology through advances in nanotechnology, we can more widely address the medical conditions that are prevalent and reduce the level of human suffering.
The vaccine rollout process is a classic case study for successful projects requiring "people, process and technology." In this equation, the technology infrastructure of an electronic health record and network connectivity seem to be sufficient at most health systems and communities to support the cause. As a result, the most crucial elements to enable success is the project leadership and teamwork amongst all segments of the healthcare delivery system (people and process).
Like innovation, we see data as telling us how to respond to the future rather than only revealing what has happened in the past. The information, trends and feedback we gather from consumers and patients to clinicians and staff marks the goal post for where we want to go. If the data tells a story, we decide how we can make that story a better one.
It all comes back to helping patients. That's the reason why we have an innovations office. We have some of the best physicians, scientists and engineers in the world right here in Cleveland who come up with brilliant ideas every day. And we need a way of bringing these to the market to help patients today and in the future. We want to reduce healthcare costs if we can come up with a less expensive way of doing something. We need to innovate around what we traditionally do but then also look at new avenues that we can explore to impact patient care.
As the chief clinical officer of a health system that includes five hospitals, I start almost every day by asking myself the question, "What will we need hospitals for in 2030?" How much that we do today will be safely done either at home or in the ambulatory setting in the near future given advancements in point-of-care diagnostics, telehealth, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, robotics, drones, 3D printing, virtual reality, 5G, etc.?