Healthcare is in the middle of one of the most important transitions ever. The COVID-19 crisis has shown how quickly things can change if we work together on digitization, data sharing, and innovation. Everyone agrees that this is the time to push forward and the willingness to change seems greater than ever.
But how? And what is needed to achieve this? Tina Manoharan, Global Lead Data & AI CoE and Digital Research Division, discusses this with Maurice van den Bosch, CEO of OLVG and chairman of Santeon, a Dutch group of seven private teaching hospitals: "Philips is able to bring the data scientists to the table, while the hospitals provide the clinical knowledge."
Maurice van den Bosch has a clear vision on the role of technology in improving hospital care. “We need to create a new 'front door' to the hospital. A digital one that actually keeps people out of the hospital. That means we need to shift our focus from clinical outcomes within hospitals to a greater focus on prevention and wellness. Prevention and wellness are two parts of the care continuum that don't get enough attention and fall outside of hospitals' current business models."
"By focusing more on these areas, we can keep people healthy for longer, reduce hospital overload, and thereby activate care across the entire continuum, while making it accessible and affordable for everyone."
Tina: "We can also empower patients, far more than is currently the case, to manage their own health. Using data and AI insights, we can determine the right point of intervention and personalize care. Is that something OLVG is also working on?"
Maurice: "Certainly. Thanks to smart data and AI, the use of platform technology, and collaboration with health technology companies such as Philips, we as a hospital can increasingly scale up high-quality remote care. A good example of this is medical triage. At present, this is still done at the hospital, but I expect that in the future we will increasingly do this through platform technology that uses algorithms and existing data to determine the correct diagnosis."
"I expect that eventually 80% of patients won't require a hospital stay and can be monitored externally, and 20% can be transferred to specialized hospital hubs for complex care or customized treatment."
What are the main obstacles you experience in this regard?
"Remember, at the moment there are already about 150,000 Amsterdam residents who use digital remote care in one way or another. This includes the MijnOLVG patient portal, video consultations, and our Hartcentrum app, which allows heart patients to be monitored at home."
"We noticed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a much greater need for these types of services, but mainly among early adopters in society, typically citizens who are highly educated and more geared toward the use of technology. A major challenge is the actual onboarding of patients. It takes a lot of time to get people on board the platform. If a doctor or nurse has only five minutes per patient for triage, they can't properly onboard patients."
“In fact, another major challenge of remote care through our digital front door is the business model itself. The profession of doctors and nurses is based on being paid to see and treat patients in hospital. If we want them to embrace remote onboarding and monitoring, we must incorporate compensation for the remote care they provide. One promising development is that the Dutch government is now taking steps to provide compensation for remote triage, which allowed the OLVG, for example, to continue caring for cardiology patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing 30% of patients to be monitored remotely."
What role is there in this development for the collaboration between hospitals such as OLVG and healthcare technology companies such as Philips?
“It is important that we work closely together to co-create digital solutions that meet the needs of both patients and hospitals. "Philips is able to bring the data scientists to the table, while the hospitals provide the clinical knowledge." Together, we can work on determining which key performance indicators (KPIs) are most relevant in measuring whether we are achieving what we want to achieve."
"For example, within OLVG we have worked hard over the past two years to move from a single KPI, namely 'cost reduction', to a fourfold goal: better patient experience, greater transparency about clinical outcomes, cost reduction, and empowerment of professionals and patients, while making care more accessible. The fact that we were able to achieve a 30% monitoring rate during the pandemic is therefore not only an indicator of medical operational excellence, but also a key indicator used to measure the improved patient and staff experience. The hospital's business units and specialisms are now being asked to include these KPIs in their planning and reporting."