Imagine school administrators being able to get real-time data on the impact of mental health programs on student achievement and well-being. A company called Effective School Solutions (ESS) is working to provide this capability. ESS provides school-based counseling services to students with mental health issues, collecting information about students’ studies and well-being. Through a newly developed progress tracking app called Mindbeat Pulse, this analytical information is accessible to school administrators to detect problems and provide students with the care they need.
“A lot of information is captured by healthcare providers, but it’s usually not actionable in real time,” says Ken McLaren, partner in the Data and AI Center of Excellence at Frazier Healthcare Partners, a healthcare investment firm. health. Frazier helps ESS create analytical tools that help decision makers act on mental health data, enabling clinicians and school district administrators to intervene earlier and achieve better student outcomes. This is especially critical in schools with limited resources, where teachers are often too overwhelmed with their daily duties to monitor student health risks.
The story of the ESS is just one of many examples of digital health, where health-related data helps reduce inequities in America’s healthcare system. Digital health extends far beyond hospital walls, covering a range of technologies, from fitness trackers that count users’ steps to virtual doctor visits and prescription drug delivery. The overall goal of each initiative, however, is the same: to prevent health problems before they pose an imminent threat rather than to intervene after the damage is already done.
LEVELING THE PLAYGROUND
Social, economic and lifestyle factors all influence a person’s ability to receive effective and affordable care. And when people don’t have access to healthcare, they tend to show up at hospitals in an emergency, not only putting themselves at risk but also further straining the country’s overburdened healthcare system.
Health inequalities stem from pre-existing societal inequalities. As Alex Kleinman, global healthcare industry leader at professional services firm Genpact, explains, “there is often a lower density of healthcare providers in less affluent areas, as well as a reduced access to fresh, healthy food and resources for exercise”. Some populations may also feel uncomfortable going to providers who are not of their ethnic background or who do not speak their language.
Additionally, clinical trials of new drugs tend to omit minority populations who may end up needing these drugs the most. This leaves many potential patients with health care literacy issues. For example, patients who do not understand their medication’s instructions, such as dosage and how it interacts with other medications, can find themselves facing serious consequences.
“If medication adherence is not understood and therefore not tracked…it leads to higher patient pain, higher downstream costs and a more strained healthcare system,” says Scott Alister, Global Head of data and AI technologies for healthcare at Genpact. “The pandemic has also widened the welfare gap between rich and poor. And with crucial procedures and screenings delayed, we are still feeling the consequences today.
DIGITAL HEALTH TO THE RESCUE
Investments in digital healthcare are, however, increasing in response to these issues. “There is a huge level of investment around data and analytics for healthcare,” says McLaren, a strong indicator that the future of healthcare is moving online.
Additionally, a shortage of medical workers has encouraged “the use of digital health platforms and tools to reach the top,” says Alister. Healthcare providers are looking for ways to manage patient workload and paperwork to spot any potential health risks. Analytics and other digital tools such as artificial intelligence and machine learning can take over, helping to prevent chronic and acute diseases.
Genpact, for example, uses these tools to create models and algorithms that optimize the time healthcare workers spend with patients. Private Health Management, a provider of care management and health risk consulting services, is growing rapidly and needs to focus researchers’ and clinicians’ time on tasks with the greatest value to the patient’s experience. care and health outcomes of its clients. However, the business doesn’t have enough visibility into how many team members are touching a task, what transfers are, and how long it takes to complete. This affects the company’s ability to staff efficiently while maintaining its high level of care delivery. “We aggregate this data and create capacity and utilization models so that Private Health Management clients have the best support from an integrated team of researchers, clinicians and care coordinators,” says Kleinman.
Of course, there will always be people who just won’t go to the doctor. Genpact helps clients use analytics and AI to target those most likely to change this behavior. The number of times a person has logged into a certain healthcare app, for example, can determine whether they will respond to messages from their doctor and schedule future appointments.
All of these investments in digital health will result in a more robust data pool and, as Kleinman puts it, “once you bring together the various patient records and digitize [them] anonymously, suddenly there are new businesses you can start. Some of these companies can help bolster a shaky healthcare system. Digitized patient information can help pharmaceutical companies identify patients who would be good for clinical trials. It can give providers specializing in fields ranging from orthopedics to radiology insight into the target demographics in their area. It can help insurers find the right doctors for their networks.
“We’ve spent the last 50 years fixing a fractured health care system plagued by siled information, misdirected incentives, and uncoordinated care,” Kleinman says. “The rise of digital channels and new uses for the industry’s existing data infrastructure can deliver the experience patients crave. They will benefit from accessible, predictable, personalized and affordable services while eliminating inequities currently embedded in health systems around the world. »