The healthcare sector has been adopting various technologies to achieve efficiency, security of patient data, and others. Nowadays, the major task before a large number of healthcare organizations is to upgrade their IT infrastructure owing to the benefits provided by various technologies. The legacy infrastructure poses a lot of problems and restrains the growth. As the technology cycles have been changing every ten years, upgrading infrastructure becomes a necessity.
Many organizations have realized the need for the implementation of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain that would offer many advantages that were not possible before. AI would help healthcare professionals in better decision making, and blockchain would facilitate data sharing across the supply chain network. Also, there will be many benefits associated with these technologies. Following is an overview of the recent scenario and how the implementation of technologies would help the healthcare sector:
Legacy Infrastructure, a Restraining Factor for the Healthcare Sector
Upgrading IT infrastructure will provide a certain competitive edge to healthcare organizations. However, there have been two technology change cycles missed by the healthcare sector, and it has been operating on the legacy IT infrastructure, according to the statement by Bob Renner, CEO of Liaison Technologies, a cloud-based data management firm, to HITInfrastructure.com.
The technology cycle changes every decade, and the healthcare infrastructure needs to be upgraded. It becomes difficult to change the infrastructure after so long. There are numerous problems that they need to face for updating the infrastructure from integration to attracting talent.
This is a tight labor market in which hiring an entire skilled IT staff becomes a big issue. As there is a legacy infrastructure in place, many tech geeks do not prefer joining the healthcare sector. It is a cycle. As organizations do not have top talent, upgrading their technologies becomes difficult. Organizations have been focusing on retaining the talent along with hiring new talent.
The major step organizations need to take is not focus on cost savings only. There needs to be a clear vision along with the belief that the data-centric environment will be valuable for an organization. The upgrade will allow the organization to transform and improve patient care. The next major step is to determine if they want a dynamic solution in which the adoption of new technologies will be easier, or they want to opt for a single vendor solution. Considering data and application needs, the decisions should be made. There are AI and blockchain technologies that can be utilized for different applications.
AI Changing Healthcare Sector, Driving the Need for Digital Workforce
It is becoming increasingly significant for the healthcare sector to possess tools with an ability to make better decisions. The healthcare organizations need to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) with the concept of “decision centricity,” according to the statement by Michael Berger, the Vice President of Population Health Informatics and Data Science at Mount Sinai Health System, to HealthcareITNews. The company has been aiming for improving the health of the population along with the efficacy and efficiency of healthcare through analysis, development, and dissemination of evidence for offering help in decision making.
Berger has outlined that the company aims to keep some beds empty at hospitals all the time. It has developed AI and machine learning technologies to achieve the aim. There are nearly 1.5 billion data points that can be collected from claims, EMR, and others through which the analytics will run for creating patient profiles.
Many hospitals have taken the approach of advanced analytics and began working on projects that include AI models. There are various algorithms such as operational optimization, cognitive insights, and prioritization.
Fresenius Medical Care is equipped with big data analytics in which nearly 1,600 variables for every patient can be collected, according to Len Usvyat, the VP of Integrated Care Analytics at Fresenius Medical Care North America. It would utilize AI along with automation for processes including insurance verification, patient scheduling, supply chain network, and credentialing for physicians.
The hospitals also began getting the FDA approvals for implementation of AI algorithms. There is a system in which probabilistic programming is used for focusing on nearly 15,000 data points for each patient. Then AI models can be deployed in the workflow. The healthcare professionals can be trained to work at a higher level and determine the risk through analytics. There is a rise in awareness regarding the implementation of AI for simplification of tasks.
The healthcare organizations in the U.S. have been adopting new technologies at a rapid pace, and this has led the healthcare IT industry in the U.S. to grow drastically. According to the research firm Allied Market Research, the U.S. healthcare IT market is expected to reach $149.17 billion by 2025. The growing industry has spurred the need to hire the digital workforce for seamless implementation.
Blockchain Adoption to Grow Gradually
As the banking and retail sector is crooning over the blockchain technology, there will be a mass adoption in the healthcare sector as well. The blockchain technology is secure, and organizations have been opting it for small projects. This small implementation will prepare the organizations for big tasks in which cost-cutting and data streamlining are possible. This technology offers privacy and interoperability to address various healthcare needs.
There are various applications including data sharing in the supply chain management and practitioner credentialing. The access to complex data in various entities will be possible with blockchain technology. Moreover, it has the potential to track and store all the information about patients such as the location of patient, procedures or tests carried out by them, and others.
The interest in blockchain has grown over the past few years in the healthcare sector. There has been a significant increase in patents filed for healthcare applications utilizing blockchain or distributed ledger technology.
Many organizations have realized that the implementation of this technology is an important step toward achieving interoperability. Blockchain would solve many issues related to data security, interoperability, and compliance. Also, it will implement patient-centric business models. However, the implementation of blockchain in the healthcare sector will be a slow process in the next few years.