By Luiz Carlos Lima Nogueira, physician and senior advisor at FALCONI
We are constantly bombarded with news about new technologies and the drastic changes they can cause in traditional business models and aspects of our lives that we have become very accustomed to over the years. What is occurring in the health sector, and especially hospitals, is no different. The changes, which were mild at first, are increasingly faster and far-reaching.
A good example of this is the famous nursing logbook. Those who have been nursing a little longer remember those thick black omnipresent books in inpatient units and emergency departments. Nursing staff used them to record everything: “patient admitted at such and such a time, complaining of this and that, seen by Dr. So and So, given such and such medications. He is currently stable, with no complaints, and is on a drip. Eventually that book, which was used by all the teams, 24 hours a day, got full and a new one was provided.
I was always intrigued by the thought of what was done with these old books and discovered that they were stored in the hospital’s dead files, “in case of an investigation.” How much material, data and information was simply stored in some generally dark and poorly ventilated room, in some corner or annex of the hospital!
Moving forward to the present, we can still see the same situation, but coexisting with another totally different one: the same information is stored in electronic records and can be accessed at any time and place. The data collected about a particular patient can be analyzed using artificial intelligence and warn care teams as to possible complications or side effects of drugs and assist with the patient’s care in various ways. The aggregated data of multiple patients can also be used, and its analysis may indicate patterns, risks, best outcomes and confirm or reject hypotheses or beliefs.
This is only one example of how the reality of care is affected by technology. In hospitals, there are countless examples. At one end of the spectrum, there are what could be called “hospitals of the future”, coexisting with what could rightly be called “hospitals of the past.” We are in time of transition that requires openness to new things, boldness and, often, energy to fight against old laws that do not make provision for or restrict more advanced and disruptive practices that are now viable from a technological point of view.
However, we can identify certain trends that have been solidifying.
Hospitals are increasingly becoming specialized centers of excellence. Few are references in everything they do and most tend to specialize in what they do best. There will be major reference centers for specialties or specific surgeries, with excellent results. This is because the remuneration system will increasingly include the value added by the intervention, and not just its cost.
Hospitals will be used basically for treating emergencies, acute cases, surgeries and more complex procedures. As the population ages, the demand for chronic patient care increases. This will preferably be monitored and treated remotely, or in lower complexity centers. Monitoring through sensors and wearable devices, along with remote access to reference professionals for recommendations and answers to questions, will enable more efficient, practical and less costly follow-up.
Artificial intelligence will help professionals to be less reactive and more proactive in preventing imminent complications, drug interaction effects and worsening of chronic problems (a properly monitored diabetic, for example, will rarely be admitted to the emergency department with a serious decompensation condition).
Care teams will be increasingly interdisciplinary, operating with a systemic vision of processes and results. In addition to technical training, this will require expertise in management tools that make this approach possible.
Technology has been assuming an increasingly relevant role. Topics such as data safety and sharing, artificial intelligence and different types of interaction with patients, besides face-to-face and connectivity-based, will need to be at the top of the agenda of executives in the sector.
Apart from all the aforementioned changes, the reason for being of this entire system – the patient – is also changing. Patients, who in the past were defined as passive recipients of health services, are increasingly becoming “agents”.
Knowledge asymmetry and unequal power relationships where health professionals hold practically all decision-making power is giving way to a more balanced relationship. Better informed, connected and demanding patients are progressively assuming an active role in discussions of diagnoses and proposed treatments, in decisions regarding the therapeutic plan to be followed, and in their experience as customers of services.
To tackle these enormous challenges, FALCONI has an experienced team to provide support to hospitals and other institutions from the sector as they journey toward the future: ranging from formulation of strategies to process optimization and innovation. It also has a network of technology partners that provide cutting edge solutions for major challenges that arise every day. We partner with the protagonists who are building the future of health.
Published on July 20, 2018