Harnessing Incumbent Technologies to Drive Better Outcomes
Technology has proven invaluable in the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth services have allowed hundreds of thousands of people to receive preventative and non-emergency assessments and care from the comfort and safety of their own homes. In clinical settings, AI is helping “healthcare professionals see patterns and predict the next problems that may arise,” (forbes.com, ¶3). Combining these vital tools could lead to the creation and implementation of dynamic public health policies and solutions, better preparing doctors for a second wave of COVID-19 or other future health crises and leading to better, timelier, more targeted care for patients.
- The current climate has facilitated the development and implementation of technologies designed to support and maintain patient health. The shift towards telehealth has accelerated rapidly as patients discover the convenience of telehealth services. The move to telehealth visits has been challenging for some, but the general consensus is that telehealth reduces the number of low-risk individuals coming into care facilities, keeping beds and resources open and available for more seriously ill individuals and protecting those low-risk patients from exposing themselves to COVID-19. AI is being utilized to “‘find patterns that we aren’t able to see ourselves’ among infected patients to determine at-risk patients earlier,” (forbes.com, ¶6) and AI-enabled in-home camera systems, designed to identify signs of COVID-19 infection, are being researched as an opportunity to offer relief to medical staff stretched thin.
- Following the development of these telehealth and AI solutions, the next barriers to tackle will be provider implementation and consumer adoption. Steps have been taken to increase access to telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic, but those steps are not permanent at this point in time. Reform is needed to address issues of coverage, coding, and reimbursement, among other issues, and to ease provider concerns. On the patient side, “data suggests that this global event is accelerating consumer adoption of telehealth — many healthcare providers are seeing unprecedented numbers of first-time users,” (forbes.com, ¶11). Patients have rushed to embrace telehealth during this period of uncertainty, but in order to maintain patient interest once the threat of COVID-19 has waned providers will have to continue to improve accessibility and user experience.
AI and telehealth have fast become the dynamic duo of the healthcare world. Patients and providers alike have taken to the convenience and increased safety offered by these tools, and the healthcare industry has the permanent implementation of telehealth services and AI solutions well within their grasp. If policymakers, health system leadership, and tech developers work together to resolve issues of policy, implementation, and accessibility, AI and telehealth have the opportunity to reach their greatest potential as tools in the fight against global health crises, both now and in the future.
Innovista Health Solutions is a population health management company that offers management and support services to guide independent physician networks, medical groups, and health systems through the ever-changing landscape of value-based care. With services and toolsets including network development, population health management, delegated services, data reporting, and strategic capital investments, Innovista is structured to help its clients succeed in their Commercial, Medicare, and Medicaid value programs. Innovista is a single resource for physician integrated models to gain access to innovative technology, expert programs, actionable data insights, financial resources, and growth opportunities, to navigate and succeed in value-based and/or risk-based contracts.
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