Digital Health Care: What Lies Ahead in 2019?

By Mike Monteith

How will the smart hospital sector evolve during the coming year?

As 2018 comes to an end, what changes will we see in the digital health-care industry in the new year? How will technology help smart hospitals to evolve in 2019? Here are my top three predictions.

Digital Health Care and Remote Monitoring Will Become Smarter and More Accessible
Access to care remains a critical challenge, especially in remote areas that lack adequate resources to provide quality medical care. In addition, with a growing aging population suffering from chronic diseases, there are increasing pressures on the health-care system to find new ways to be more productive and efficient.

The smart hospital has the potential to improve quality of care and population health, and to increase system efficiency and reduce health-care costs, through fully integrated systems and medical devices designed to optimize workflows and maximize information exchange. Through 2019, there will be a continual need to integrate the many siloed systems at hospitals, in order to be able to match the pace of growing patient and system demands.

In terms of remote monitoring, wearables will become more common applications in health care as another large source of patient data, but only on a localized delivery level with specific and targeted patient populations. Major strides in utilizing personalized health data and the self-management of chronic diseases through wearables have already demonstrated the potential to increase access to care, enable a more proactive approach to providing care and prevent hospital readmissions. Receiving notifications and information at the point of care will provide more actionable insights and allow for more informed decision making that can improve the quality of care delivered. As wearable and remote-monitoring technologies become cheaper—and, therefore, more accessible—population health will begin to come more into the forefront, putting a strong focus on primary and preventative care.

Digital Health Care Is on the Cusp of capitalizing on Opportunity
Being able to analyze data and translate it into meaningful insights remains a challenge for all levels of government and organizations. While data can now be better managed through analytical tools and technologies, ensuring the quality of data is accurate is another issue. In addition, the lack of data-sharing agreements and inadequate data-governance structures prevents meaningful use and organization of these insights. Despite data privacy and security concerns, data and analytics provide important opportunities for quality improvement, understanding population health, research, health system planning and management.

In 2019 and beyond, health-care providers will use data and analytics to create a single source of truth for hospitals that can bring together all of the data that exists within their environment, to drive not only operational outcomes but also better patient outcomes. It has to be both—in order to become the hospital of the future, a medical facility needs to integrate and correlate data from a variety of systems, including clinical systems, building systems, IT and OT systems, and connected devices.

What's more, an interesting emerging trend is how operational data and patient data are influencing each other. Many organizations have been approaching the usage of operational data and patient data in the same manner that they have looked at all of their health information systems: with such data siloed and fragmented. This school of thought should lean more on the model of health care in general—that is, it should take a holistic view.

Digital Twins Will Remove Red Tape in Health-Care Operations
Organizations are starting to discover the true potential of digital twins and their ability to bring together data from not only clinical and IT, but building systems. Furthermore, the orchestration of comprehensive operational intelligence drives additional use cases. The convergence of building system intelligence and health-care operations will reveal additional opportunities to optimize patient flow, energy management and sustainability initiatives.

As the interplay between the physical building space and health information systems becomes abundantly clearer, through more data and analysis, use cases that target both systems will certainly become a focus. This is due to how everyone, from operations to management to end users, will be able to not only envision the benefits, but also see those benefits being realized in a quicker manner—slashing the time to implementation for enhanced and optimized workflows.

Mike Monteith is ThoughtWire's CEO. As a seasoned entrepreneur and technology executive with more than 20 years of experience serving the public and private sectors, Mike has established himself as one of Canada's leading experts in information technology for the built environment. Capable of bridging the gap between business innovation and IT, Mike is solving the challenge of integration and interoperability in health-care and commercial real estate settings. Prior to founding ThoughtWire in 2009, Mike was a senior advisor and technology consultant, and thus acquired expertise in business and enterprise strategy, IT strategy, enterprise architecture and large-scale program implementation.