One area where information technologies are already making a difference is the ICU. As health organizations seek to improve patient outcomes while lowering costs, healthcare leaders often look first at the ICU since it can account for 50% of mortality and a third of hospital costs. A connected ICU is one example of a program that connects doctors to a telehealth team of remote specialists, able to continuously monitor patients and proactively identify deterioration, intervening before they become significant problems. I am excited to say that last week we announced that another four leading US health systems signed on to improve care with our enterprise eICU programs.
Though millennials will likely quite easily adopt wearable monitoring tools and embrace patient engagement tools, one of the biggest challenges – and opportunities – is elderly patients with multiple chronic conditions. The “super-users” of healthcare are not only the most challenging population to manage, they are one of the most fragile – and by far the most costly. While they make up only 5% of patients, they account for up to 50% of all annual healthcare expenditure. It is here where even the smallest of behavioral changes for the better could help the organization see a dramatic cost-saving.
One can easily envision the virtual care center to monitor not only beds in remote ICUs or general wards, but also patients at home. We are currently looking into expanding access to care and connected health resources, bringing together seniors, caregivers and health systems onto a digital hub able to offer personalized offerings by accessing various data sources.
Ironically, it is this data that is both the final barrier and opportunity on the road to successful population health management. Today, more health data is available than ever before, yet health delivery organizations struggle to capture it, normalize it and turn it into reliable, actionable information. Data itself is meaningless without clinical insight, and quantifying patients isn't the same as helping them.