Patient-driven care – addressing the emergent needs of the digital patient and provider
By 2025, the Asia Pacific digital economy opportunity is estimated to reach US$3.5T. Increasing levels of digital literacy is enabling people to experience on-demand services and this is greatly influencing patient expectations around traditional models of care, service levels and desired outcomes.
Patients are becoming savvier about their own care, and they want a clear picture of their health journey. They want to be able to use consumer-friendly digital tools to manage their clinical records, lab results, medications and treatment plans. However, some healthcare organisations may not necessarily possess the expertise or knowledge required to meet the needs of the patient-consumer.
“Some of the challenges faced by healthcare organisations in meeting the needs of the patient-consumer include the lack of technology vision and roadmaps, legacy technology investment that could be a hindrance in adopting new technologies and technology procurements which are often piecemeal and designed to solve specific problems,” explained Dr Vinod Seetharaman, Chief Medical Officer, Asia, DXC Technology.
From a macro perspective, absence of or incomplete policy guidelines and regulatory frameworks to enable digital economy in healthcare can impede adoption and stifle innovation, he added.
Creating a single view of the patient: An ongoing challenge
Another opportunity in patient-driven care lies in the integration of different data sources across different healthcare segments which provides a broader view of a patient-consumer’s health, as well as providing a more personalised approach to care.
“Creating a single view of the patient still remains a challenge in many countries; developing and developed alike,” said Dr Seetharaman. “In order to effectively treat the human as opposed to the condition, it is absolutely essential to get a single view of the patients with parameters such as tunica status, disease history, demographic data and social determinants of health.” Much of these sources of data resides in disparate systems and often comes under different jurisdictions, which is also compounded by the fact that a patient’s journey may transverse both public and private healthcare sectors and continuity of care becomes a challenge.
He said that in more advanced healthcare systems, forecasting, predicting and intervention have become the priority, and the current endeavour is to use the data to adequately predict disease trajectory for patients such that adequate treatment can be administered earlier. A great example is using advance analytics and machine learning skills on standardised data streams to accurately forecast patient outcomes in a variety of care settings such as the emergency department (ED) and intensive care.
Specifically in the long-term management of care, it is absolutely essential to engage, recruit and train the patient to become an effective partner in order to create an environment of shared decision making.
Patient-driven care – how it benefits the clinician too
A physician by training, Dr Seetharaman sees that patient-driven care can also bring about benefits for the clinician in a number of ways. Firstly, they will be able to use their time more efficiently by not spending time to search, correlate, analyse information since contextually relevant information will be presented to them. Thus, they will increase their time spent on direct patient care.
Next, clinicians will be able to collaborate with other care givers to ensure care gaps do not exist and patients can move seamlessly through their care pathway. Patients themselves will have a multi-channel communication pathway to their care givers and depending on their situation can be adequately triaged to the right levels of care – clinicians will consequently be able to better educate and engage their patients to manage their health better. Lastly, clinicians can use the data-rich environment and clinical collaboration tools to enrich and enhance their own clinical practice, since the data would contain invaluable real world insights.
The future of patient-driven care
In the near future, patients will be able to manage more of their requirements away from acute care settings, Dr Seetharaman said. Access to healthcare will also improve, both because of the proliferation of extended out-of-hospital services and the ability of patients to retain continuity of care across multiple care facilities. There will also be more experimentation with new patient monitoring and care models to take advantage of higher, more periodic resolution of the health status of the patient.
“There will also be a proliferation of AI or digital assistants acting under human supervision that will help patients reach the required level of care as quick as possible,” he concluded.