So let me start at the end. This is the last image in the keynote presentation, Telemedicine & Robotics In Health Care with Jon Linkous, chief executive officer of the Partnership For Artificial Intelligence, Telemedicine & Robotics In Healthcare at the 2019 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute. A major takeaway: The smartphone will be the locus of health care services in the future.
While everyone in the field has heard much about how technology will change the business model for health care, Mr. Linkous spoke about the tipping point in tech adoption that executives have been discussing for a decade (see Is 2019 The Year Of The Telehealth Tipping Point? and Preparing For The Telehealth Tipping Point). His data on the year-over-year change in the number of consumers receiving health care services remotely had the classic tipping point trajectory.
From his perspective, health care organizations that don’t adopt emerging technologies will soon find themselves disrupted and displaced. “Be wary of your competition,” he said. “If you don’t adopt these technologies, you’re going to lose patients and you’re going to lose market share. I’m sorry, it’s the reality of the world. You’ve got to adapt. If you’re not on the bandwagon you’re going to be left behind.”
Yet technology adoption lags for specialty provider organizations (see How Do You Compare On Tech Spending And Adoption?), which isn’t new. But lack of adoption is increasingly dangerous given disruptive delivery systems, such as Walmart and Minute Clinics in grocery stores that leverage new technologies (see Engaging Consumers Was The Topic For The Week).
Yet even with the more-than-obvious trend data, technology adoption is not intuitive for some provider organization executives. “Health care has been a late adopter of technology in all forms,” said Mr. Linkous, who cited the historic response to the stethoscope when it was introduced. “The question is not the technology but what we do with it. It’s a tool just like the stethoscope in the delivery of health care” (see Do It Now!).
Mr. Linkous was quick to point out how technology is changing the ‘value equation’ in the competition for consumers that focuses on convenience, new services, better data, better quality, and better use of clinical professionals.
Technology has already changed the consumer interface with the health care system. Consider how often consumers use Google to research health services or the volumes of consumer health data collected with apps for diet, exercise, and mental health. “You have all these choices that you didn’t have before,” Mr. Linkous said. “The competition is enormous. For example, machines dispense pills, telesurgical devices perform surgeries around the world, apps enable facial recognition to diagnose mental health issues, robots lead exercise classes and act as aids in nursing homes and pediatric centers, and all types of health care can be provided through virtual channels.
From a practical perspective, technology has prompted or supported the reallocation of tasks among health care professionals – and it has eliminated the need for some. As an example, Mr. Linkous cited the first FDA-approved diabetic retinopathy machine that doesn’t need an ophthalmologist or optometrist because it uses artificial intelligence (AI) and computer diagnostics. A growing number of mental health apps provide bot-based therapy and/or enable synchronous remote therapy, and cell phones can track medication compliance. “Everyone’s fighting to get more responsibilities, from pharmacists to nurses,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing for the consumer because they have a lot more choices, and the technology enables that.”
Mr. Linkous emphasized the difference between AI and augmented intelligence—one replaces health care professionals and the other supports them—and said, “AI won’t replace docs any time soon, but that depends on who you’re talking to.”
In closing, Mr. Linkous referenced big investments in health care technologies and the ever-growing number of start-ups and technology-enabled health care platforms and services. Both old and new technologies face barriers to large-scale adoption, and one of the biggest barriers is payment though interoperability, regulations, and resistance from health care professionals and administrators are also factors.
Mr. Linkous closed with a look into the future. “Medical care is changing, technology is changing, but payment and regulatory systems have not caught up with that at all… The question is how can we do this so the new technologies are patient-centered and helpful to clinical professionals so they can do things they couldn’t do before?”
Learn more about technology implementation with these resources from the OPEN MINDS Circle Library:
- Going From Tech Tolerant To Tech Savvy: How Managerial Staff Can Directly Impact The Adoption Of Technology
- The Five Key Competencies Of Technology & Reporting Infrastructure
- Best Practices In The Shift To Virtual Health: How To Integrate Digital Treatment Tools Into Programs & Treatment Models
- Managing Your Team To ‘Tech Savvy’
- 4 Keys To Make New Tech Work
- Making The Right Tech Investments For Your Organization: An OPEN MINDS Executive Seminar On Technology Budgeting & Planning
- An Executive Guide To Strategic Partnerships That Last: How To Leverage Technology Investments For The Long-Term
- When New Contracts Mean New Technology: 4 Things To Remember
- Using Virtual Care To Improve Your Value Proposition: Best Practices In Integrating Technology Into Your Community-Based Program
- Training Is Key To Getting Tech ROI
To learn more, join us January 28, 2020 at 12 pm for the web briefing, “Beyond The Core 4: What You Need To Survive A Value-Based World – Results Of The 2019 National Behavioral Health Electronic Health Record Survey” with Joseph P. Naughton-Travers, Ed.M., Senior Associate, OPEN MINDS and Matthew M. Dorman, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Credible Behavioral Health Software. And get results from last year’s survey: Investing In Your EHR Technology For Future Success: Results Of The 2018 Behavioral Health EHR Survey.