The Building Blocks of Ambient Intelligence
How Technology Should Fit into Healthcare
Healthcare organizations face competition from a myriad of new market entrants: start-ups, technologies, devices or titans from other industries. But these new entrants are built very differently than traditional provider organizations, so they’re free from the legacy of brick-and-mortar facilities, payor rules and labour contracts.
Technology adoption is accelerating, but it still takes nearly a decade for a new technology to gain widespread penetration. Early adoption happens quickly; tablets achieved 10 percent market penetration in two years, maturing to 40 percent in another two years, and then saturating the market to 75 percent in another four years. The lesson is — in an era when it feels as if we don’t have time — there is time to evaluate new technology, explore the potential clinical application and assess the value.
While it’s easy to become enamoured by the latest advancements, the value proposition isn't to introduce technology just for technology's sake, but to enable end-to-end experiences as patients move through the system of care. Technology doesn't add value if it doesn't address patients’ needs especially if it increases a provider's administrative burden. When looking at technology trends, start with the desired end result — whether it be patient experience, efficiency or clinical quality — and then determine how it can simultaneously meet an end-user need and a business need.
Technology should enable, not drive, experiences as these five shifts reveal.
Digital Health → Digital Therapeutics
Apps that combine behavioural economics, adherence tracking, coaching and peer connections require clinical trials and regulatory approval. This validation is essential to winning the trust and recommendation of physicians. These treatment options could be “prescribed” by a physician, integrated into the care plan and paid for by insurance.
Mobile Apps → Phygital Experiences
Consumers recognize they can’t do everything virtually from the supercomputer in their hand. There’s still value in going places, doing things and interacting with people. Phygital experiences blend physical and virtual environments for a frictionless and enhanced experience, adding value when and where patients come to see their provider.
Big Data → Small Data
While Big Data can reveal behavioural health patterns and generate recommendations, a more individualized approach is necessary to anticipate developing health issues and change behaviour. Wearables connect individuals’ self-monitored health information (“little data” or self-analytics) to population health data, allowing health systems to adapt and personalize to the individual and influence health outcomes beyond the four walls of their facilities in a way that has never been done before.
Quantified Self → Remote Monitoring
Patients who are quick to adopt wearables for health tracking are generally healthy already. Patients who would benefit most are slow to adopt. Advancements in clinical-grade sensors and algorithms now make it possible to remotely monitor patients at home, just as if they’re in the hospital.
Internet of Things → Internet of Actions
Instead of collecting and analyzing real-time data from physical assets, systems and infrastructure, the true value lies in connecting sensors and embedded devices to orchestrate and automate interactions that can be triggered by things like customer arrival, movement through a facility, completing an interaction or a departure.
These trends come together to create an ambient intelligence, technology that is so pervasive and advanced that the user interface completely disappears into the background of our lives — spoken or unspoken. Technology won’t replace face-to-face provider interactions anytime soon because patients still value seeing their provider. But they want it to be a superior experience. Providers need to use technology to better honor patients’ time, add value to their on-site visits, and enhance their interactions with caregivers.
Learn more about healthcare's digital evolution in the "End-to-end Experiences: How Healthcare Can Reach Its Digital Nirvana" chapter in Delta, Volume 2.