How Technology Is Advancing the Future of Preventative Care
Preventative care is focused on initiatives and practices that promote the prevention of disease, disability, and death through public health and population health initiatives. While preventative care has been in existence in some form for centuries, technology has accelerated innovation and improvement of current preventative healthcare approaches in recent years.
Technological advancements will benefit healthcare for years to come. By using the right tools and technology, healthcare providers, care teams, and patients can benefit through streamlined care processes, improved health outcomes, better patient experience, and lower overall healthcare costs. Aligning the goals of preventative care with rapidly evolving technology can make a significant impact on individual-level care, population health, and the overall healthcare system. Many providers are leveraging this technology in ways that are already showing benefits for care teams and patients alike.
What is preventative care?
Preventative healthcare includes initiatives and practices aimed at maintaining good health and preventing complications. This includes annual wellness visits, immunizations, flu shots, and certain tests and screenings. Most health plans cover preventive care services at no or low cost to patients.
Preventative care best practices vary based on patient characteristics. For example, preventative care for children is often focused on wellness visits and immunizations. Preventative care for adults can include annual visits, colonoscopies, mammograms, and flu shots.
For all populations, the goal of preventative care is to prevent serious diseases, medical problems, adverse outcomes, and avoidable hospital use. As a foundational part of the healthcare delivery system, preventative care can help to improve overall health outcomes and comes with a host of other benefits.
How technology is advancing the future of preventative care
Technology can support preventative care and specifically can be an aid in the prevention and treatment of diseases. As new and innovative technologies emerge, the opportunity to improve preventative care strategies continues to grow.
For example, Apple and Stanford Medicine launched an innovative partnership in 2017 using the Apple Watch in a digital health study focused on screening for irregular heart rhythms. The study focused on learning if the Apple Watch can detect atrial fibrillation, which is a heart condition that frequently goes undiagnosed, yet causes 130,000 deaths and 750,000 hospitalizations annually in the United States. The partnership saw significant interest and uptake, with more than 400,000 participants enrolled in less than twelve months.
Offering data analytics and sharing information
One of the toughest barriers for providers in delivering high-value care is a lack of access to comprehensive data. When care teams and providers aren’t able to access up-to-date information about a patient, their condition, and their care plan, things can go awry.
Advances in technology can help to keep providers and care teams on the same page and up-to-date when making treatment decisions. With data-sharing and data analytics, providers and care teams are able to access a patient’s full history and make fully informed care plans. Advances in secure, HIPAA-compliant data sharing across medical providers are enabling providers and clinicians to provide high-value care, improve outcomes, and reduce healthcare costs.
Data visualization informs providers of program analytics and treatment plans across individuals and patient populations. Care Management software like Welkin can keep a team fully informed and on the same page for the patients they serve. Welkin is designed to support coordination across care teams, enabling information-sharing, assigning team members to patient needs and interventions, and identifying clear, actionable tasks and responsibilities. It enables teams to surface actionable insights and identify trends through charts and graphs. Welkin allows care teams to design feedback loops, analyze relevant datasets, and easily export data to external systems.
Predictive analytics include advanced technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). AI and ML can help to analyze patient data, electronic medical records, and provider notes, leading to improvements in matching appropriate preventative medical care and decreases in avoidable hospital use.
Some AI and ML capabilities include predictions around how certain patients may respond to medications, earlier detection of infections based on remote patient monitoring, and identifying patients who may be at greater risk of complications or hospital admissions.
Providers across the country are using AI and ML to support providers and care teams, predict potential complications, and evaluate the effectiveness of specific treatments. Ochsner Health System in Louisiana uses AI technology that allows providers to predict an imminent threat of cardiac or respiratory arrest for patients.
The University of Michigan’s Rogel Cancer Center has a research team developing a blood test to evaluate the effectiveness of a certain treatment for HPV-positive throat cancer. The blood test would reveal results months earlier than typical imaging scans. These tools are increasingly used in technology solutions in healthcare, and are constantly evolving and improving.
Better care to patients and relief for care teams
Leveraging advancements in healthcare technology allow teams to streamline their efforts, reduce duplication, and focus on patient health. Recent advancements in data analytics allow teams and providers to see more data on patients, but can lead to information fatigue if that data is not presented effectively. With the right technologies in place, care teams and providers can spend less time on paperwork and more time on patients.
In today’s environment, there are high levels of clinician burnout. A recent study indicates that physicians devote 62% of their time per patient reviewing electronic health records (EHRs). With the right technology solution, provider fatigue and burnout can be reduced.
Automating touch-points — assessments, check-ins, encouragement, tasks, and even appointment scheduling — eases the burden on clinicians and can help to aid preventative care by ensuring teams are proactive rather than reactive.
Technology also helps care teams make decisions more quickly, and improve patient satisfaction and engagement with providers, as well as overall well-being.
Provide better care with the right technology
In the future, healthcare providers and stakeholders will need to be focused on a single goal: ensuring every person has access to affordable, high-quality care. Preventative care will continue to be a cornerstone of healthcare and play a significant role in ensuring high-value, high-quality care is accessible to all individuals.
The healthcare system has historically addressed public health challenges, mental health issues, diseases, and complications as they arise. Advancements in technology allow providers and care teams to take a proactive approach and work to prevent some of these challenges. To improve population health, these advances need to reach all patients.
Technology will help to achieve this goal and provide patient-centered care. To learn more about achieving patient-centered care with the right technology, check out our Patient-Centered Care Guide.