How Healthcare IT Impacts Patient-Centered Care

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Andrea Fiumicelli, vice president and general manager of Healthcare and Life Sciences at DXC Technology, took some time to do a Q&A where he discussed health IT solutions, how the cloud affects patient driven care, and the benefits of telemedicine.

Q: What trends are we seeing in 2020 that impact the healthcare IT space?

A: Several trends will impact the healthcare IT industry in 2020, but two stand out:

  • Artificial intelligence will create better experiences for patients. As the need for high-quality, affordable healthcare mounts, using data to make better-informed healthcare decisions is essential. But this is difficult to do using manual processes. Healthcare organizations will accelerate the use of AI to better anticipate patient needs, improve treatment decisions and reduce health risks in select cohorts. For example, AI can forecast hospital admissions to anticipate spikes in healthcare needs, enabling administrators to more accurately plan staffing. AI can also help administrators better plan the duration of hospital stays by predicting which patients may have issues with recovery and which are at greater risk of readmission.
  • The more data is shared within the healthcare ecosystem, the higher its value will become. The more healthcare data is shared across providers and public health agencies, the greater the potential to improve health and personalized wellness outcomes. However, for the healthcare ecosystem to flourish, we need trust mechanisms that validate both the individual’s right to share data and the enterprise’s right to consume it. Self-sovereign identity standards such as Decentralized Identifiers, verifiable credentials based on zero-knowledge proofs and blockchain-based consent are emerging to address these challenges. Through the combination of AI, internet of things and distributed ledger technology, we will see providers and patients willing to share data in data exchanges.  

Q: How is the cloud impacting patient-centered care?

A: The global healthcare cloud computing market is expected to reach $51.9 billion by 2024, a projection attributed to several factors, including the increasing volume of patient data; the increasing adoption of electronic health records among medical professionals; the evolving approach of government health IT programs; and the increasing active participation of private sector players in industrial development.

The cloud is not only a secure way to centralize and store growing volumes of business and care data; its scalability also allows healthcare organizations and providers to better manage the complex relationships, multiple interactions and sheer volume of information involved in patient-centered care management models. When healthcare organizations and providers turn to the cloud, patients benefit from lower costs, better and more personalized care, more engaged staff, and an improved patient experience. 

In the near and long term, the cloud will allow healthcare organizations to expand into other available technologies — IoT, predictive analytics, AI, blockchain, augmented reality, digital assistants and more — driving the industry’s further transformation and opening up new possibilities for patients. 

Q: What role does DXC see telemedicine playing in relation to healthcare?

A: For many patients, convenience is rated more highly than quality of care, the experience with doctors and nurses, or even insurance coverage. The 2019 Healthcare Consumer Trends Report from NRC Health found that 80% of patients would select their providers entirely on the basis of convenience. This eye toward convenience suggests telemedicine will continue to expand.

In addition to being convenient, telemedicine also makes access to healthcare more equitable: Patients sometimes go without healthcare because they lack transportation, or because there are no providers in their area, and telemedicine eliminates these barriers. It also functions as an ideal way to augment continuity of care; patients can see their preferred doctors both physically and virtually, using webcams or phones if they’re unable to see them in person. 

Q: Healthcare IT security will continue to be important in the coming year. What measures can organizations take to protect patient and hospital data?

A: As the healthcare industry continues to digitize — bringing together electronic health records data with other data about patients from all types of devices — and as the industry shifts to care without borders, interoperability of data will become even more crucial, and so will cyber resilience.

Organizations will need to focus on hardening access to digital assets as opposed to making them inaccessible. This is where the security approach known as zero trust comes into its own. With zero trust, there is no assumed trust of corporate devices or networks versus untrusted public networks or personal devices; the same security checks are performed on users and devices. In other words, everybody is equally suspect, but everybody is also equally able to access the data they need. Access policies are applied wherever data is held and across the interfaces of all systems when they are being accessed.

Such a system might sound onerous to operate, but zero trust is not about putting roadblocks on innovation, collaboration and open exchange; rather, it’s about increasing cyber defense.

In healthcare, zero trust is about finding a solution that can preserve the sharing and giving of information in a patient’s best interest while safeguarding that information.

Andrea Fiumicelli is vice president and general manager of Healthcare and Life Sciences at DXC Technology, a global top 10 healthcare and life sciences provider of integrated technology solutions, innovative software products and agile IT in more than 70 countries. 

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