At the Heart of Digital Transformation in Healthcare

Earlier this month was the 49th anniversary of the first successful heart transplant, performed in Cape Town, South Africa. I was thinking about that when returning from my annual cardiologist checkup and I came across an interesting article in a Northwestern Alumni magazine about advances in vital monitoring.  The net is that professor John Rogers and associates created in their lab a flexible, stretchable electronic device that can be integrated into the human body.  Rogers is developing a suite of electronic patches like this one, which could someday monitor our vital signs, tell us when we are dehydrated, and alert us when we absorb too much UV radiation and even jumpstart the heart after a heart attack.

Amazing possibilities!

That recent doctor’s visit got me to thinking about the current state of the patient experience and where we might go in the next few years.  Having been in IT and software for more than 30 years I can’t help but ponder the security, integration, data management, and API management issues that progressive institutions are facing as they move into a digital future.  I also think about how we put the patient/user experience first, rapidly prototype applications, and future-proof our systems as more capabilities are brought to market by the likes of Professor Rogers.

The reality, or so it is for my experience, is that while we are moving fast, we have a lot to do as an industry.  Take my recent cardiologist visit.  There are many players involved, all need to be coordinated and data/information has to flow between the parties.  Before seeing the cardiologist, I might have to see my primary doctor, get a history of the meds and dosages I am on, schedule a blood test, schedule a CAT scan, etc.  Then post-visit the results (while posted on the patient portal) still need to be explained.  Questions like “why is this calcium reading high and what does it mean?’, “What can I do about it?”  “What is the long term consequence?”  “How does it compare to prior readings?”

The point is, if we are going to shift to a wellness model, versus a treat the problem model, we need better systems.  Persistent Systems has published a Blueprint for Enterprise Transformation by Design that can guide innovators as they consider how to move forward rapidly and efficiently.  Of note, their recent partnership announcement with “Dell Boomi” brings into play the industry’s best integration software with broad applicability to the healthcare field.

All good… all good… The advances in the 50 years since that first heart transplant have been amazing. But I have a feeling the advances we’ll see in the next five years will be even more amazing… A good start for me is if I can just get all my Fitbit information into my medical records and see the whole picture!

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