It is no secret that health systems are under intense pressure to deliver better outcomes at lower costs, and standardizing acute care workflow will only carry providers so far. Truly moving the needle on cost and outcomes will require a fundamental redesign in care delivery; otherwise, health systems may well find themselves left out. Care keeps shifting to environments in which hospitals have less influence: what was once critical care can now be managed in an in-patient unit; what was once in the hospital is now in an office; what was once in the office is now at home.
This shift will increasingly rely on support from mobile device technology tied to active consumer engagement. Thanks to advances in the mobile availability of diagnostic quality data that supports faster and more informed decision making, physicians have the opportunity to make interactions with patients much more personal and meaningful.
Obstetrics care offers a compelling case study in how quickly the environment is changing. A decade ago, innovators created a new way to mobilize patient data in obstetrics care that has become a sort of standard of care in practice – though not officially in name. The idea that live patient data can be mobilized has prompted an industry-wide movement, as many vendors look to mobilize their own data (typically in isolation).
However, mobilizing data only addresses one aspect of a much greater, critical need: being able to provide continuity of data across multiple different systems and multiple different environments. This is where the most exciting innovations are being developed.
Consider how much more powerful mobility could be when a physician is able to view the results of a pregnant patient’s non-stress test (NST) in the context of a much broader story. Who is the patient? How did she get to this particular point? How about her previous tests? How about pertinent findings over the course of gestation that are captured in both inpatient and outpatient records that can now be brought in? The result is that a physician can make decisions based on a much broader set of available data, instead of a single NST.
That said, clinicians have a limited amount of time to make an assessment, and more data is not necessarily better. To support decision-making, added artificial intelligence can aid in highlighting the most relevant data points in ways that can be quite simple or exceptionally complex.
The development of real-time streaming capabilities could, in the case of obstetrics patients, include monitoring data, prenatal data, fetal heartbeats and maternal contractions. When coupled with sophisticated algorithms that provide upstream notification of potentially adverse events, clinicians have a powerful tool that enables them to be more responsive than ever before. And that is only the starting point – these solutions are poised to have an impact that will be felt throughout the continuum of care.
However, as the industry rapidly develops these very sophisticated tools, interoperability remains the elephant in the room – everyone talks about it, but few are truly embracing it. Clinicians ultimately need a tool that connects to a number of different data sources, normalizes and streams that data in near real-time, runs the data through the algorithms and then makes the results accessible to the decision-maker in a way that supports their workflow. This is complex, but it is also doable – and the right thing to do on behalf of patients.