Technology has always played a significant role in healthcare disruption. Innovation is an everyday affair with pathbreaking discoveries happening across the world. Despite rapid innovation, healthcare is facing many challenges related to systemic issues and changing market dynamics. These include:

  • Rising consumerism: Increased use of smartphones, mobile apps, eCommerce platforms, and IoT devices have changed the patient, payer, and provider interactions, increasing the demand for better and personalized experiences.
  • Preventable medical errors: Research1 suggests that there are over 43 million medical injuries or error every year that are avoidable. These preventable errors create liabilities for hospitals and could cost patients their lives. For instance, over a period of 6 years, between 2011 and 2016, misdiagnosis and surgical complications cost New South Wales, Australia, public hospitals over $262M in damages2.
  • Medical information explosion: Research3 estimates that medical knowledge will double every 73 days in 2020. This makes it next to impossible for medical practitioners to keep up with the latest medical literature, leading to the spread of misconceptions based on dated or incorrect information.
  • Slow diffusion of correct medical knowledge: A 2015 article4 states that less than 14% of new scientific discoveries become a part of daily clinical practice. It takes such findings over 17 years, on average, to be accepted. It takes around eight years for a drug to reach a stable level of prescription and approximately 3.5 years to be withdrawn, in case it is found to be unsafe. For patients, new medicines offer fewer side effects, fewer hospitalizations, improved quality of life, increased productivity, and importantly, extended lives

Fragmented and siloed healthcare systems, changing regulations, and limited digitization are key contributors to these challenges. Digital technologies can definitely plug systemic gaps making healthcare more connected, organized, and resilient. Digital technologies can also make it easier and more cost-efficient to meet regulatory challenges without compromising data accuracy.

AUTHORS

 Bhushan Deshmukh
Bhushan Deshmukh
AVP-Senior Director & Head-Product Incubation Cell,
EdgeVerve Systems Ltd. (An Infosys Company)
Abey Kuruvila
Abey Kuruvila
Member of Technical Staff,
EdgeVerve Systems Ltd. (An Infosys Company)
Maheshwar Damojipurapu
Maheshwar Damojipurapu
Senior Product Manager,
EdgeVerve Systems Ltd. (An Infosys Company)

Creating a better healthcare system with digital transformation
Adopting digital technologies can benefit the healthcare system in many ways. Some of these include:

Digitization coupled with the deployment of advanced technologies such as AI/ML, AR/VR, Computer Vision and IoMT can improve the accuracy of diagnosis and reduce the chances of errors recurring in future.
Smart apps on mobile phones and wearable devices are enabling telehealth and m-health initiatives, remote monitoring, and patent administration8 for accessible and affordable healthcare.
Availability of individual’s data, family’s health history, and genome analysis can help medical practitioners provide personalized treatment, including advanced, medication-free therapies based on gene editing.
Building digital solutions powered by AI/ML with visual modules can support clinical trial simulation, modeling, computer-assisted trial design, drug discovery, and development10. Digital adoption has the potential to reduce the cost and time to market significantly
Increased digitization using technologies like AI and automation reduces documentation effort11. Advanced technology-based clinical decisioning support system can make healthcare professionals extremely efficient in helping them focus on high quality and high value tasks12.
Blockchain based trusted networks can enable access to documents and healthcare information securely across the network13. End-to-end visibility across the supply chain helps support drug safety and reduces fraud. Blockchain also helps in streamlining complex clinical trial management.

Given the benefits of digital transformation, it’s hard to believe that the healthcare industry is relatively low on digital maturity – being ranked almost last in a 20155 survey.
The industry, even now, continues to lag in this transformation.
However, investments in digital technologies are on the rise, and industry players need to embark on their digital adoption journey strategically. The need of the hour is to take a planned and incremental approach that is also aligned with an organizational change management journey.

A three-phased transformation for resilient healthcare systems

We recommend that healthcare organizations follow a three-phase journey for digital adoption (See Fig. Below).

The core of the healthcare platform comprises data related to patient records and digitized healthcare knowledge. This includes:
Siloed data, manual processes and workflows, and fragmented applications are some of the key impediments to advancement within the healthcare sector. Suboptimal processes and lack of automation creates inefficiencies and adversely impacts customer experience. We have been helping our healthcare clients overcome these challenges with our comprehensive product suites14 that include AssistEdge15, Infosys Nia16, and Business Apps.
Some of the key areas where digitization and optimization can offer improvements include:

  • Digitize data and integrate systems through data capture, OCR/ computer vision, and crossapplication and environment integration
  • Process discovery and identification of automation opportunities
  • Robotic process automation to improve process efficiency and employee productivity by automating repetitive tasks and AI-enabled business application automation to transform into data-led businesses
  • Intelligent Automation of IT operations with AIOps to monitor disparate IT systems and take reactive, predictive, and preventive actions to manage disruptions
  • Intelligent virtual customer support through chatbots

Many global clients have leveraged EdgeVerve’s products to digitize and automate their business processes across customer servicing, customer interaction management, customer onboarding, partner/vendor management, billing & payments, risk management, reporting, document & content management, workflow management, supply chain management, trade fulfilments, collections, compliance management and planning & budgeting, among others

Case in point
Pharma companies can achieve more than 20% cost savings and 10% efficiency gains by using:

  • Infosys Nia Vision to automatically identify the ingredients from the scanned images of medicine labels
  • AssistEdge and Infosys Nia for Knowledge Modeling, Inference into SOPs and automating them
  • Infosys Nia for predicting failures and maintenance requirements of equipment
To function seamlessly, the healthcare ecosystem needs integration with multiple players like healthcare payers, insurers & public bodies, healthcare providers, pharma companies, manufactures/suppliers/OEMs, diagnostics & labs, wearables & devices, patients & consumers, research institutions, regulatory bodies, and other participants.

Our AI/ML-based TradeEdge platform enables this integration and allows interoperability across players through data cleansing, preparation, and contextualization; easy onboarding; end-to-end visibility; and demand-supply mapping within the ecosystem. An integrated ecosystem brings in predictability, efficiency, and improvements in the end-user experience.

Case in point
Increase productivity by a third in pharmaceutical corporations using:

  • TradeEdge Market connect to acquire data from channel partners & distributors
  • AssistEdge and Infosys Nia for automating manual business processes
  • TradeEdge Distribution Management System to manage the products, pricing and promotions across the network

The third stage of the transformation journey leads to a digitized healthcare ecosystem. Customers become the core of the entire system, and the system focuses on proactive preventive care and services. This also reduces the overall inefficiencies with the ecosystems and brings in transparency.

In this stage:

  • Consumers and patients can avail preventive recommendations and personalized medical administration remotely through AR/VR, Computer Vision, and advanced analytics
  • Medical practitioners and researchers get real time assistance from smart systems during surgical procedures or research activities. Smart systems also help the practitioners stay relevant with information on the latest advancements.
  • Seamless information flow across the healthcare payers, providers, suppliers, manufactures and researchers makes the ecosystem extremely efficient and agile.

A digital healthcare ecosystem

Completing the 3 phases of transformation creates a digital healthcare ecosystem (See Fig. Below) that includes a digital core of healthcare data, clinical decision support system, AR/VR based knowledge enabler, and a blockchain-based trusted network.

The core of the healthcare platform comprises data related to patient records and digitized healthcare knowledge. This includes:

  • Electronic Health Records (EHR) module with digitized patient health care information
  • Digitized Healthcare Knowledge and Literature module that captures body, health and healthcare literature and research in real time and processes it along with digitized historical healthcare knowledge.
A CDSS module leverages patient health records and health care knowledge from the digital core to generate recommendations linked to diagnosis and prescriptions. CDSS can reduce preventable medical errors by helping medical practitioners keep up with the latest knowledge and enabling digital diagnostics. For instance, CDSS can support pathologists, radiologists, and other medical practitioners to prepare accurate summary reports.
This module uses computer vision and AR/VR capabilities to guide medical practitioners in real-time during surgical procedures. Additionally, this platform enables real-time remote surgical collaboration, helping experts interact remotely. This module also supports VR based knowledge transmission and AR-based simulator for training and assessment.
A blockchain-based trusted network can enhance trust and transparency within the healthcare ecosystem by bringing in end-to-end traceability in:

  • Drug research to clinical trials and regulatory clearances
  • From drug manufacturing to distribution of drugs till the endpoint thus simplifying and authenticating the BMR process and reducing fraud
  • Prescription to diagnosis and actual medical administration so it can help validate treatment through a digitized second opinion

The way forward
Embracing digitization to create intelligent and integrated healthcare systems is the only way forward for healthcare companies to stay relevant to customer needs and thrive despite complexities, uncertainties, and cost pressures. What’s needed is a predictable and consistent approach to transformation to boost the success of the digital journey. Are you ready to take the first step?

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References: 

  1. Ashish K Jha et al. (2013) bmjqs-2013-002396. available from https:// qualitysafety.bmj.com/content/22/10/809
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