Technology is changing the way people receive health care

Technology is transforming the way consumers receive health care, giving providers advanced tools to help them determine patterns of care, predict outcomes and make better diagnoses with treatments that lead to better results.

And while the transformation was already in progress, the pandemic has hastened the way in which tools such as artificial intelligence, predictive analytics and two-way texting are changing — and improving – health care outcomes, says Benjamin Edelshain, MD, vice president of Clinical Engagement and Digital Innovation at Highmark Health, parent company of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

“These technologies have the potential to overhaul the delivery of health care, both in the U.S. and around the world,” says Edelshain. “Using technology to tailor care to an individual can improve outcomes, create a better patient experience, reduce costs and streamline processes.”

Smart Business spoke with Edelshain about how technology is changing the way people receive health care.

How is technology transforming the delivery of health care?

While the transformation has been under way for decades, the pandemic hastened implementation as consumers worried about visiting a clinical setting. While a physical examination is required for some diagnoses, others can be done via telemedicine.

A number of technologies are impacting health care. Predictive analytics looks at data across thousands of patients with similar conditions to predict potential outcomes, examining what happened in the past to see what may happen in the future. This helps providers determine treatment by allowing them to see which treatments have had the best outcomes in similar patients. While providers can still make independent treatment decisions, predictive analytics helps guide decision-making by showing them the proven clinical interventions that have succeeded in the past.

In addition, artificial intelligence is being used in diagnoses and treatment recommendations, administrative activities and patient engagement, especially once they have left a clinical setting. While providers develop a plan of care to encourage positive outcomes, too often patients fail to follow it. AI can help personalize a care plan, taking into consideration factors specific to the patient, increasing the likelihood of compliance.

How can two-way texting improve care plan compliance?

Care plans often include behavioral changes, such as weight loss, scheduling follow-ups and refilling prescriptions in a timely manner, and two-way texting allows for better patient support. While many people won’t answer the phone, they are more likely to respond to text messages regarding wellness, follow-up and health care support. The two-way secure mobile messaging occurs within a secure browser, allowing the consumer to interact with a support person to ask questions and to gain support for continued treatment.

Two-way texting allows caregivers to connect with patients where they are, provide support outside of an office setting and improve communication, allowing for a hybrid model of in-person care and virtual. Patients can respond when it is most convenient, increasing the chances they will do so and saving time for provider staff who previously made calls that went unanswered.

What about privacy concerns?

The use of technology in health care does not compromise privacy, as data used in artificial intelligence and predictive analysis is anonymous. Data is also being used with the patient’s best interested in mind to improve health outcomes. These technologies pose no threat to privacy and allow better patient outcomes by guiding care providers to make decisions based on past experience and outcomes, increase efficiencies and decrease cost, providing a better all-around patient experience.

What does the future hold?

With the tremendous adoption of various modalities of telemedicine, we’ll continue to see sustained utilization of telemedicine, virtual care and remote monitoring. These have begun to accelerate as we prepare for a ‘new normal’ post-pandemic, which will ultimately create a more accessible and positive experience for the patient and members.

Insights Health Care is brought to you by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield