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Why healthcare organizations will invest more in tech this year


One of the more interesting findings in the 2018 Managed Care Technology Survey that caught my eye relates to your predictions regarding healthcare technology investments.

When I compared the 2018 findings to the 2017 findings, it’s clear that healthcare organizations continue to invest more in tech. In the 2017 survey (which also took place during the fourth quarter of 2016), when you asked how many planned to invest more in technology in 2017 than in 2016, nearly 50% said they did. When asked the similar question in the 2018 survey (which took place during the fourth quarter of 2017), more than 40% predicted they’d invest more in technology in 2018 than they did in 2017.

Here’s why I think that’s the case.

Chief information officers and chief transformation officers looking to drive digital transformation in their organizations are no longer asking, “How do we drive EHR adoption and show an ROI on our EHR investment?” but rather, “How can we create new value and business designs by blurring the digital and physical worlds of business, people, and things with exponential technologies, alongside our existing EHR investment?”

A December 2017 Deloitte Insights paper predicts the manifestation of exponential technologies within the next 36 to 60 months.  The report, for example, references artificial general intelligence, which it defines as an advanced version of artificial intelligence that would have capabilities similar to what we call “gut instinct,” which allows us to perceive and interpret information on the spot. What’s unique about exponential technologies, and most exciting for the health industry, is that they’ll empower, not burden, organizations and clinicians protesting that they’re serving their EHRs more than their EHRs are serving them.

This is very good news for the industry because, under value-based care payment models, true North for value creation is now the quadruple aim: better heath, better care experience, lower costs, and improving the productivity and work experience of clinicians. And recentering the industry’s core value proposition around the quadruple aim means that technology must now do more than improve experiences, outcomes, or even safety at any cost; it has to accomplish these at the same or lower cost.  But this requires health systems to deploy three exponential technology platforms that I like to refer to as “human empowerment platforms:” intelligence, engagement, and collaboration platforms that will pick-up where EHRs have left off and drive real-life experience and cost structure transformation for consumers, payer, and providers.  EHRs have gotten the job of data digitization, revenue maximization, and compliance reporting done.  But, in the process, EHRs have exacted an immense burden on the productivity of clinicians and care teams.  In contrast to EHRs, these three human empowerment platforms will improve clinician productivity and impact because, by design, they’ll amplify human effort and ingenuity. 

1. An intelligence empowerment platform is needed to empower the organization to redesign their business and clinical processes and work on behalf of clinicians to scale their productivity, expertise, reach, and leadership. 

2. An engagement empowerment platform is needed to empower organizations to deliver unobtrusive interactions to consumers during the 5,000 hours between office visits to improve care outcomes, promote healthier living, and accelerate recovery. 

3. A collaboration empowerment platform is needed to empower organizations to digitize care teamwork and extend care coordination efforts into the medical neighborhood to reduce the need for care and improve population health.

What’s particularly exciting is that, for the first time in history, every sector in the healthcare industry-provider, payer, and pharma-now has a business imperative do deliver services or products that achieve the quadruple aim.  When innovative health systems begin to harness exponential technologies to empower their organizations, clinicians, and consumers to amplify human effort and transform their experience and cost structures, we will see the kind of real life digital transformation that’s been long overdue.

Dennis Schmuland, MD, FAAFP, is a Managed Healthcare Executive editorial advisor and chief health strategy officer, U.S. health and life sciences, Microsoft Corporation.

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