Want to innovate? No need to reinvent the wheel
When healthcare organisations seek to innovate, it’s important that any resultant change is beneficial and adds value, said Oracle Healthcare Innovation Advisor Peter Williams. They need to ask themselves first: ‘Do I really need this? Do I have something that can do this now?’
Williams was speaking to AHHB at the recent HIC 2018 digital health conference where he was an industry presenter. Part of Oracle’s customer success team, Williams tracks trends, developments in health care and advises healthcare customers on how to approach innovation.
When it comes to innovation, he said it is okay for healthcare organisations to look for inspiration from other industries and organisations. “Innovation doesn’t have to be a totally new invention. It can be something we just haven’t done here,” he said.
Working at the coalface, Williams is privy to the latest industry trends. In his experience, healthcare organisations are seeking four outcomes, often described as the ‘quadruple aim’:
- A better patient experience.
- A better clinical experience.
- Value-based health care lowering cost.
- Population health — focused on prevention, early intervention and self-empowerment.
“We’re also seeing a lot of interest in operational cost savings, especially through supply chain management of pharmaceuticals, prosthetics and product recalls,” he said.
Leveraging technology in health care
One form of technology being adapted for health care is chat bots. Williams noted that UK charity Turning Point uses chat bots to converse with people with mental health issues. “Some people feel more comfortable talking to a chat bot as it’s non-judgmental,” he said.
The chat bot incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse the conversation, offering the caller advice and the option of speaking with a consultant. If the caller agrees, the system then identifies the most appropriate person for the caller to speak to and connects them.
Chat bots also offer resource benefits to the organisation, saving cost on headcount.
Another innovation offering resource benefits is autonomous self-learning databases. “Healthcare organisations are often low on cash and skilled database administrators are a scarce resource,” Williams explained.
Rather than invest in a dedicated resource to manage their database, organisations can use a database with built-in automation to perform maintenance tasks such as security patches and upgrades. He cites Oracle’s Autonomous Database Cloud, saying it is self-driving, self-securing and self-repairing.
Oracle’s analytics capability also has built-in AI that helps interpret the information within it. “Not every clinician is a data scientist. They look at the data and ask: ‘What am I seeing?’ The system produces a narrative that helps explain it to them.”
Williams believes that integrating consumer information into healthcare systems is another growth area.
With health information coming in from Fitbits, mobile devices, apps and so forth, healthcare organisations need a way to capture the information and incorporate it into other systems. Noting this trend, Oracle developed the mHealth Connector, which captures this information from the devices and brings it into systems in a standardised and accessible form.
“It’s a challenge for healthcare organisations to pull together reams of data from different sources and make it meaningful,” Williams said. “It’s the old ‘garbage in, garbage out’ scenario.”
He said that as the digital revolution is data driven, it is essential for healthcare organisations to find a way to manage data so that it can be used for operational, clinical and research purposes, while ensuring there is clear governance around the way the content is accessed and handled.
“Paul Keating said ‘It’s the economy, stupid’. Well in this case, ‘It’s the data, stupid’,” Williams said. “If the information is right, you get the right decisions, and the right outcomes.”
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