The Cleveland Clinic has a history of being on the bleeding edge of health IT and its new CEO Tom Mihaljevic has made it clear that the Ohio-based health system will keep pushing ahead as a medical technology pioneer. "Most of our plans for the future will depend on digital platforms: telemedicine, data analytics, artificial intelligence," Mihaljevic said during the State of the Clinic address in late February. "Digital technology will allow us to deliver smarter, more affordable and more accessible [care]. The Cleveland Clinic has always been an early adopter, beginning with our electronic medical records. But now, we have to take technology even more seriously.
"Health information technology connects doctors and patients to more complete and accurate health records ... This technology is critical to improving patient care, enabling coordination between providers and patients, reducing the risk of dangerous drug interactions, and helping patients access prevention and disease management services."-- Health information technology (HIT)--the application of information technologies to enable and enhance the delivery of healthcare services--has been a central point of focus for U.S. healthcare policy since 2007. Both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama outlined bold goals for HIT adoption as a key facet of each of their healthcare reform efforts, promising significant benefits for healthcare providers and patients alike.20 Clinical HIT systems, including electronic health records (EHRs), health information exchanges (HIEs), computerized provider order entry (CPOE), and telemedicine technologies, are seen as critical remedies to the complexity and inefficiency that have long plagued the U.S. healthcare industry.a
Patient portals provide patients with a convenient way to access their personal health information which results in patients feeling more involved in their care and having more informed discussions with their health care provider. In one study, 94 per cent of portal users said they valued viewing their health information online Virtual visits provide patients with the convenience of connecting with their health care provider through secure, two-way digital communications without the need to travel to the doctor's office. A BC study found 79 per cent of patients who had a virtual visit said the quality of care was the same as an in-person visit. Telehomecare allows patients and clinicians to collaborate in monitoring health conditions, which can reduce the need for emergency visits and hospitalization. Electronic health records allow doctors to see patients' complete health information, saving time, reducing duplicate tests, and leading to better patient care decisions.
John Halamka thinks the digital health industry is still "emerging." But it has come a long way and is starting to deliver after years of hype. Halamka, a Boston-based physician and healthcare technology expert, says that's thanks to several coalescing factors: improved technology, more favorable financial incentives for using digital products in healthcare, and growing demand from patients accustomed to tech-enabled convenience in other areas of their lives. "In 2019, the tech is better, but also the alignment of incentives is better," says Halamka, who leads innovation at Beth Israel Lahey Health system and is a Harvard Medical School professor. Over his 30-year career in medicine, Halamka has had a front row seat to advances in healthcare technology, and at times has helped drive them.
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare is finally becoming a reality. According to CB Insights, from 2012 to 2017 more than $2 billion was invested specifically in healthcare AI with companies that leverage machine learning algorithms. Additionally, technology giants Apple, Microsoft and Google are investigating entering the healthcare market, and Amazon's secret health tech team 1492 is exploring a platform for electronic medical record data, telemedicine and health apps. You're not quite going to find doctor Amazon Alexa diagnosing patients in homes – yet, but we are excited by the many advancements in AI to help detect diseases earlier and analyze vast data streams to identify risks and outcomes. AI in this capacity can truly change the healthcare delivery and diagnosis model in the future.