Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the Age of Experience issue of Workflow Quarterly.
The healthcare industry is in the middle of a transformation, according to new research from ServiceNow and ThoughtLab. After struggling through the pandemic, hospitals are increasingly deploying tech that delivers faster, smarter, and safer treatments to patients wherever they are. “We’re working to deliver healthcare beyond the four walls of a hospital and to broaden the scope of care,” says Mike Luessi, global head of healthcare and life sciences at ServiceNow. Here are a few trends to look for in the years ahead:
Improve data exchange
In 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finalized a set of rules giving patients greater control over their medical records and how they are shared. Companies like Nuance and DrFirst are building AI-powered apps that facilitate the sharing of healthcare data by standardizing and streamlining recordkeeping. During patient visits, for example, the AI can automatically fill out electronic healthcare records with patient symptoms and other relevant data.
Traditionally, medical staff have trained with cadavers, live patients, mannequins, and actors at hospitals and clinics. During the pandemic, however, healthcare providers didn’t want to put nurses and doctors at unnecessary risk by sending them on-site. Many turned to VR. One system, designed by Oxford Medical Simulation, is already in use at British and U.S. hospitals and medical schools. It allows training via virtual scenarios. Physicians examine the virtual patient’s symptoms, ask questions, and engage in realistic dialogue.
The business of healthcare is built on mundane and error-prone tasks such as invoicing, appointment scheduling, inventory management, and patient flow. Enter robotic process automation (RPA). RPA uses predefined rules and conditions to answer common customer queries, manage inventory, order products and parts, handle insurance claims, and digitize documents to free up humans for more interesting tasks.
Once a patient leaves the physician’s office, they become much harder to care for. This is particularly true in areas without access to full-time hospitals. One solution: medical devices that monitor a patient’s health remotely. Digital wearables track vital signs like blood pressure and transmit health alerts to a patient’s care team, allowing for quick action before a problem becomes serious or results in a costly chronic condition.