To understand the healthcare needs of tomorrow, we need to take a close look at current demographics and trends. The United States population is aging. This is increasing the demand for services while at the same time, reducing the pool of healthcare workers available to meet the demand.
Chronic and long-term conditions make up a high percentage of utilization. The healthcare system is a relatively siloed system made up of providers, insurers and payees, medical device manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies. Patient records are often buried in legacy systems that don’t talk to each other, leading to quality-of-care issues, redundancies in testing, and gaps.
At the same time, Americans have become more engaged in their wellness and at ease with technology. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of telemedicine, and many patients and providers continue to use these services for routine care. Patient adoption of communication portals helps providers check in with patients and receive answers to their care. Many patients use wearable devices like iWatch and Fitbit to monitor their health and have the desire to share this information with their medical teams.
According to a Deloitte report, tomorrow’s healthcare system will move the patient to the center. Innovations in the data systems and open yet secure platforms will facilitate closer collaborations. The trend for patients to have access to data and be able to share it will increase. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be able to support clinicians by monitoring patient data streams that may include wellness information, vitals, and treatment information. Telehealth will bring healthcare to the patient wherever they are, increasing the likelihood of early detection and treatment and reducing the strain on local labor markets. These innovations are just the tip of the iceberg.
The military health system is setting the foundation for many of these innovations. Private healthcare contracting companies have been partnering with the DOD on the rollout of MHS GENESIS, the Military Health System’s new electronic health record. This new system enhances patient information and the communication and collaboration of providers whether in the Military health system or the private sector. The DOD is also running several studies with active-duty personnel to determine if wearable health monitors would help maintain fitness for duty and reduce stress. Open Notes, a component of the military healthcare information system, allows patients and providers to communicate readily, building stronger relationships.
How Federal Health Contractors Play a Pivotal Role in Bettering Healthcare Technology
Healthcare technology encompasses technology related to diagnosis, treatment, maintaining records, collaboration with providers, scheduling, billing, and financial and operational management. Technology can break down siloes. Siloed systems bog down the efficiencies and prevent providers and administrators from delivering high-quality services with agility and operational efficiencies. Federal health contractors bring expertise and capacity to healthcare improvement initiatives. Here are a few ways that contractors are partnering to realize the promise of innovation.
- Many healthcare contractors are working with the DOD on Human Performance Optimization solutions.
- When patient needs exceed local resources, federal healthcare contractors can provide telehealth solutions. Federal contractors have played a pivotal role in designing the protocols for telehealth.
- Federal Health Contractors are on the front line of improvements to healthcare technology and these improvements set the foundation for even better healthcare technology in the future. For example, contractors have been effective partners in the DOD’s rollout of MHS GENESIS. They have provided project management, implementation support, and staff training and have deployed stakeholder communication plans.
- Contractors are often highly skilled in healthcare operations. They can assess the current level of functioning and develop pathways for improvement by analyzing existing processes to improve efficiencies, reduce waste, and enhance outcomes. Their experience with technology allows them to leverage it for process improvement and better patient outcomes.
The aging population will strain the healthcare system with more needs while there will be fewer providers to meet those needs. And generations accustomed to data will expect more of the information systems and will be looking more towards wellness and quality of life rather than treatment. Innovations today are setting the foundation for meeting tomorrow’s healthcare needs.
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