Figure 2: Possible platform starting points
Analytics is based on linking different data sources obtain to new insights, it requires significant amounts of data and infrastructure investments to succeed. These investments are slowly starting to pay off as hospitals are starting to use data to predict patterns of chronically ill patients. In the meantime, analytics capability is an excellent stepping stone to evolve into a platform.
Connected health uses healthcare information, technology, and changes, to ease access to and sharing of data, for instance through patient portals. The openness and accessibility delivered through connected health can be utilized and developed further into a platform. For example, the Isala clinic developed a patient portal Mijnisala.nl. Offering a wide variety of functionalities, it bundles all hospital specialties so it can optimally support the patient journey of each individual patient.
E-health is the use of technology in healthcare to support or improve patient health or general healthcare. Apps for example can be valuable tools for delivering additional information for diagnosis and disease progression, at a level of detail and frequency that vastly exceeds what was possible before, even saving lives. New data and insights like these can be a good starting point in platform development. For example, the Parkinson Smartwatch, participant in the Accenture Innovation Awards, cleverly utilizes technology to actively measure the condition of Parkinson Patients. Based on this data, doctors can prescribe treatments specifically altered to each patient.
Where to start?
Multiple care providers have already invested in digital innovation, their experiences help us understand the effective steps to developing healthcare platform solutions. A vital realization is that this isn’t just about technology. It’s a fundamentally different way of interacting with patients and delivering treatments and therefore should be embedded in the heart of the business and its culture.
Healthcare is about patient experience. It starts with creating patient stories from end-users or personas. Understanding the needs, desires and fears of these persona create a highly effective perspective for innovation, and in turn guide the organization in developing services and choosing technology.
The process of moving to a platform model must be flexible and iterative. Focus on developing a business case for services, start small, scale up and design for humans from the start. New design techniques such as design thinking, can be an effective way to enable better and patient centered care. This means deviating from the classic scientific waterfall approach where all details are established before starting. Instead, agile/scrum methodology gives quick and frequent results, showing improvement in small increments through end user input. The small but continuous progress greatly boosts acceptance and business value in the organization. This way, organizations can keep momentum during the transition in a rapidly changing environment.
Patient and Outcome Oriented Healthcare is the Future
Healthcare providers are realizing that healthcare delivery needs to change fast to keep it affordable, meet patients’ needs and allow for innovation. Through VBHC, focus can shift back to the patient and outcomes. Successful implementation will require a shift in organization and culture surrounding healthcare, both from professionals and consumers. Data siloes and rigid IT are currently bottlenecks for change and need to be passed to connect and analyze data, whilst being safe and secure.
Platforms can create ecosystems that unlock siloed data and enable flow and creation of new services around patient centered care. These new ecosystems will extend beyond technology to connect the capabilities, expertise and services that touch healthcare organizations, consumers and clinicians. Through new techniques such as agile/scrum and design thinking, the business is in the driving seat for change. Flexible, iterative development with end-users will result in a patient centered approach fitting to the individuals’ need.