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5 Digital Health Trends Showing the Power of the People

Keeping up with changing technology is vital, but it’s just as important to evolve the consumer experience, care delivery methods and career development opportunities for the healthcare workforce.

According to Accenture, the Digital Health Technology Vision 2016 reveals five digital health trends that prove winning in the digital age hinges on people. These trends have 3-5-year horizons and have continued to accelerate throughout 2016.

With regard to intelligent automation in the healthcare industry, one size does not fit all; even though every consumer is a part of the digital age, all of them have different needs and speeds. People choose to opt into intelligent automation systems, and giving patients the type of interactions they want with their doctors is critical — and second only to ensuring that all those interactions fit clinical efficacy as well.

Some healthcare innovation that stands out to Accenture isn’t new technology at all but rather the way organizations adapt to the digital economy and how they structure themselves given the external changes in the industry.

For example, one company recruited a network of 8,000 freelance phlebotomists, and MedStar is a founding partner of 1776’s as part of its broader effort to foster a culture of innovation where it can test and learn rapidly.

Accenture also highlights the pace and scale of change as trends gain momentum. With much healthcare innovation occurring in the unregulated fringes of the existing industry, policy is going to have to catch up and hopefully anticipate changes.

As billions of venture dollars go to digital health and the healthcare industry continues moving toward platforms, Fortune 500 companies are feeling the pressure to be just as innovative as startups. Change is undoubtedly happening.

Ever-increasing acceleration of digital health innovation leads to ever-increasing risk of medical data breaches and questions about ethical handling of secure information. In the past, 65 percent of consumers globally believed that the benefits of being able to access medical information electronically outweighed the risk of privacy invasion.

Only time will tell whether breach after breach will affect the consumer perception about the threats healthcare faces moving forward.

For now, let’s learn more about the five trends Accenture identified for digital health innovation and the healthcare industry as a whole in 2016:

  1. Intelligent Automation
  2. The Liquid Workforce
  3. Platform Economy
  4. Predictable Disruption
  5. Digital Trust

Intelligent Automation: Do things differently, do different things and create new jobs, products and services in healthcare.

Intelligent automation is making care delivery and administration more seamless across the health ecosystem. From robots performing housekeeping duties to avatars streamlining the patient intake process — it’s not about replacing people, it’s about allowing people to work more efficiently, and where they are needed most.

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Taking charge of mental health: SilverCloud provides an online solution for the treatment of mental and behavioral health. Its programs allow users to access interactive content anonymously, and at a pace that suits their schedule.

Such flexibility allows the patient to engage in and take charge of their own care and provides clinicians with the ability to facilitate up to six times or more patients than pure face-to-face work, while maintaining the same level of outcomes. The solution uses analytics and clinical measurements to report back on progress.

The Liquid Workforce: Today’s digital demands call for highly agile healthcare skillsets.

Digital has generated a more fluid workforce that can go where help is needed. Have a sick child? Digital services can allow you to Skype with a pediatrician. Struggling with a high-risk pregnancy issue?

Through virtual technology, a specialist in New York can treat an ailing patient in New Mexico.

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An innovation engine: UnitedHealth Group’s Garage program aims to identify, nurture and accelerate innovative internal business ideas that lead to new health businesses, products and services.

The Garage focuses on a small, discrete portfolio of seed-stage ideas, putting them through a disciplined process designed to validate and test business concepts and provide paths to commercialization. Dedicated “entrepreneurs in residence” are matched to ideas based on their own knowledge, talent and passion.

Platform Economy: Ecosystems are the new bedrock of digital healthcare.

Platforms are enabling smart cities, connected machines, robust customer analytics and more. In healthcare, they provide the underlying technology that can make healthcare experiences more connected.

Platforms can link the entire healthcare ecosystem — from patients to providers to health plans.

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Platform potential: Philips Health is placing a big strategic technology bet on a platform business model by launching the Philips Healthsuite platform with three different cloud partners: Salesforce.com, Amazon AWS IoT, and Alibaba Cloud. Philips has a bold vision: to reinvent healthcare.

With its three cloud partners, Philips Health will be able to rapidly scale up to hundreds of millions of patients, devices, and sensors – using endless flows of data to tackle the biggest challenges facing the industry, from the hospital to the home.

Predictable Disruption: Digital ecosystems blur healthcare’s boundaries, in a foreseeable way.

In today’s digital economy, disruption is ubiquitous. It’s changing the way we consume everything—from products to entertainment. As consumers increasingly want personalized, on-demand services, healthcare is not immune. Lines are blurring across industries and new ecosystems are emerging.

Startups, wearables and device manufacturers are converging to capture what is happening with consumers and react in real time.

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Drive-up healthcare: Uber is now using its ecosystem to push disruption into new sectors—such as the recent trial of UberHEALTH in Boston. With its existing network of cars and customers, and a new set of skilled workers—registered nurses—Uber has been able to provide on-demand delivery of flu shots and similar vaccinations.

Neither hospitals nor major pharmacy chains in the United States would have ever previously seen Uber as a competitor.

Digital Trust: As healthcare data security risks increase, so do opportunities to earn consumer trust.

Protecting privacy has become table stakes in healthcare. Now, organizations must figure out how to responsibly and ethically manage a mass of customer data that is increasing in volume by the minute. If handled properly, this treasure trove of data can be a tool for creating tailored services and building consumer trust.

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Trusted territory: After the consumer outcry from its iCloud breach in 2014, Apple came to understand afresh the importance of trust. Its efforts to be transparent in how it uses and secures customer data is testimony to the value this leading brand places on trust.

Apple’s new platforms, such as Apple Pay and HealthKit, are clear beneficiaries of this trusted-by-design approach because the strong security and ethics that are “baked in” give customers confidence that their digital footprints are secure and private, easing the transition to and adoption of the Apple ecosystem.

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