When talking about injecting more technology into healthcare, the conversation frequently revolves around how to bring down the costs in the U.S. medical system.
That is an understandable argument, since Americans pay more for healthcare, without seeing comparable gains, than any country in the world, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The United States spends twice as much per capita as the next-closest country, but life expectancy is dropping.
But it is important to remember that the healthcare “system” is comprised of millions of individual patients, each with their own needs.
“When an individual comes to us, we put all the macro conversations aside, and imagine that man or woman is our loved one,” he told the audience at the Washington Technology Showcase, sponsored by the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) National Capital and The MITRE Corporation. “At a place like the Mayo Clinic, we have a particular North Star – how do we serve each individual patient.”
The connection between those individual patients and advances in technology lies in the data, he explained.
“Large data sets are not new … There have been more data in patient care than the human mind can assimilate,” Decker said. “We can bring them together to develop solutions for patients [with] new algorithms such as machine learning. [We’re] not interested in them for their own sake,” but to find new solutions for the patients.
The Mayo Clinic has played a role in developing new technologies such as Kardia, the mobile device and app to allow individuals to monitor their own heart rhythms.
Other promising areas include precision neurotherapeutics. Mayo “is leading a global initiative for minimally invasive neurosurgery,” he said, describing a video of a woman having brain surgery while she is conscious and playing the piano – because she wanted to be sure she could still play after the surgery.
While physicians are using health IT tools to deliver patient care and patient outcomes, practice managers and other administrators are realizing improvements in other areas of the patient journey thanks to innovative healthcare tech.
“Whether you’re facing a major healthcare crisis, like the ones described by Wyatt Decker, or you’re just trying to get your family to the doctor for back to school check-ups, being able to self-schedule appointments or be automatically added to a smart waitlist without needing to call the office reduces the stress on the patient and frees up both people and resources within the organization to continually put the patient first,” said Michele Perry, CEO of Relatient.
“It’s easy to forget at times what the purpose of healthcare IT is when there are so many innovative solutions hitting the market at the same time,” Perry continued. “For all of us in the field our primary job and that of the technology we’re invested in is to make the patient journey better, which, for me, means being respectful and responsive to the individual patient and prioritize their needs so that taking care of their health is simple,” concluded Perry.
Learn more about how to improve the patient journey with Michele Perry here.