10 Healthcare Quality Improvement Trends You Can’t Ignore
The healthcare industry has one constant: change. While new medical technologies and scientific advances will improve patient outcomes and quality of life, we here at Prometheus Research believe that innovation in behind-the-scenes activities (such as technology, patient experience, and risk management) will serve as some of the primary drivers of industry advancement for the present and beyond.
In this article, we’ll examine 10 healthcare quality improvement trends that will impact the healthcare industry for years to come.
Healthcare Quality Improvement Trend #1: Augmented Reality Training
Augmented reality is a trend that spans across all industries, but it’s particularly powerful in the healthcare field.
One of the strongest uses of AR is in medical training. By using augmented reality, healthcare providers can see diagnoses and procedures right in front of them and learn new skills and expand their knowledge.
Another advantage of AR is that it makes it possible to train more providers at once. This is important because it could help combat the shortage of trained professionals around the world.
Imagine a doctor being able to have treatment options appear on a screen as he looks at different conditions for a senior citizen during a routine checkup. This doctor would no longer have to spend as much time reading studies to refine their skills. The information they need can simply appear in front of them in real time as they seamlessly treat patients.
Healthcare Quality Improvement Trend #2: Leveraging Data for Healthcare
Data has always been an integral part of healthcare, and comes in many different forms, but new types of data and ways of collecting it will impact the quality of customer service in the healthcare industry. A benefit of automated systems is that they can filter through large amounts of data in real time to provide the best patient experience.
As we mentioned, healthcare data comes in many forms, from post-visit feedback surveys to find out what days and times are the busiest so clinics can properly staff their offices.
Data can predict when a patient will get sick so that preventative action can be taken, create personalized healthcare plans, and potentially limit the spread of diseases before they grow out of control.
It also allows providers to have a more complete view of each patient, which can potentially remove the pre-visit intake questionnaires—one of the most frustrating aspects of healthcare for the patient.
Healthcare Quality Improvement Trend #3: Patient-Customer Experience Personalization
Healthcare patients don’t have time to be sick. They also don’t want to wait around for services they don’t need. With the growth and improvement of data comes the ability to personalize the healthcare experience.
As we move toward the future, healthcare offices will be able to create a completely personalized experience for each customer. Instead of everyone being treated the same, clinics will be able to use data to see what doctors a patient prefers, if they like being seen in person or remotely, their health history, and any potential health issues.
That means that instead of having to navigate through a complicated web of healthcare representatives, a patient’s information will be easily accessible to the right treatment options, preventative care, and recommendations can be made.
While we mentioned that the healthcare industry continues to increase focus on patient personalization, 2018 will be accompanied by a strong emphasis on patient-customer experience. Patients must feel they are in a trusted environment that prioritizes respect and strong, open communication. Nurturing this environment requires organizations to consistently meet excellence standards across a wide variety of performance areas.
Creating a culture that benefits patients starts with happy and engaged employees. We predict an increase in patient culture programs that involve all employees. Additionally, forward-thinking organizations will create Chief Patient Experience Officer roles to lead this shift toward a patient-first culture. The benefits of a culture that encourages open, honest, and direct communication among patients, providers, and staff go directly to the heart of the patient experience.
Healthcare Quality Improvement Trend #4: Using Wearable Devices in Healthcare
Quality improvement trends in healthcare point toward an increased usage in wearable devices.
The most frequent users of wearable devices are people who are less healthy than average and are more likely to need to be hospitalized. Despite this, wearable devices are powerful tools to keep patients involved and invested in their personal health.
In 2016, many were suggesting that wearables were dead. Today, wearables are becoming one of the most sought-after innovations when it comes to digital health. And, the market is quickly diversifying as clinical wearables gain importance and as several important organizations integrate with each other.
Data captured by these gadgets are playing an increasingly powerful role in healthcare. Not only are devices like the Apple Watch more widespread, they are poised to become a valuable tool for incentivizing healthy behavior.
Wearable devices such as activity trackers encourage patients to stay more active and healthier on their own. This can decrease their need to see a doctor, while more advanced devices can monitor patient health metrics such as heart rate, diet, and blood pressure on the go.
Instead of having to go to a clinic for monitoring, patients can do it at home and always be connected to a doctor. If a monitored patient’s blood pressure spikes, the doctor can receive a notification and take action. Wearable devices are a less invasive way to still get great care.
And we are also seeing trends pointing beyond just wearables—there are several apps that can assist providers with remotely tracking patient health, engage patients, interact with them, and streamline care operations. As technology becomes central to healthcare, 2018 will be the year when these apps and wearables boost the patient-physician interaction.
Both apps and wearable devices are an up-and-coming healthcare quality improvement and a much less invasive way to still get great care.
Healthcare Quality Improvement Trend #5: Hospitals Using Smart Technology
Advances in technology have created a new wave of smart technology products to improve patient comfort and care. Using connectivity and automation, these tools alleviate some of the pressure on healthcare providers and once again put customers in control. When it comes to healthcare quality improvement, the trend points toward an increase in smart technology implementation industrywide.
Smart technology comes in a variety of forms to increase comfort and efficiency and decrease risks. Hospitals around the country have started using smart beds that self-adjust to the correct pressure and support for each patient’s preferences and condition.
Other clinics are using robots that can monitor a patient without a human provider being in the room. Smart devices and applications will continue to grow and spread throughout the healthcare field.
Healthcare Quality Improvement Trend #6: Increasing Importance of Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things
In 2018 and beyond, we will witness a good amount of investment from healthcare leaders in the fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). There is going to be an increasing advancement in technology, making the use of technology crucial in healthcare and assist an already unbalanced workforce.
AI and IoT will not only prove instrumental in enhancing accuracy in clinical insights, and security, but could also be fundamental in reducing manual redundancy and ensuring fewer errors as we transition to a world of quality in care.
The computing power of AI will drastically cut the time scientists spend analyzing data and testing molecular combinations as they tweak formulas and develop new ones.
Healthcare Quality Improvement Trend #7: Big Data and Analytics Transforming Data into Health Outcomes
Big data and analytics have always brought significant advancements in making healthcare technology-driven. With the help of big data and smart analytics, we are at a point in healthcare we can make a near-certain prediction about possible complications a patient can face, their possible re-admission, and the outcomes of a care plan devised for them.
Not only it could translate to better health outcomes for the patients, it could also make a difference in improving reimbursements and regulatory compliance.
Healthcare Quality Improvement Trend #8: Interest in Population Health Management Will Grow
Even though many people in the healthcare industry today are talking about population health management, there isn’t a common definition for what it means yet.
This can be problematic for those trying to develop strategies to effectively improve the health of various groups of patients.
Right now, we can use the following definition for population health management: Population health management (PHM) is a discipline within the healthcare industry that studies and facilitates care delivery across the general population or a group of individuals.
Furthermore, it is a proactive application of strategies and interventions to defined cohorts of individuals across the continuum of healthcare delivery in an effort to maintain and/or improve the health of the individuals within the cohort at the lowest necessary cost.
As the risk for a population of patients shifts to the provider, health systems need to know more about the patients they serve.
Healthcare Quality Improvement Trend #9: Technology Will Drive Efficiency
This year will also see the healthcare industry continue its pursuit of efficiency through technology that improves performance and offsets risks. The lines between patient, organizational, and financial risk are no longer separate entities. They are connected.
Hospital organizations need an integrated system to protect and defend across the care continuum.
Organizations prefer smarter integration of disconnected data systems over complex patchwork solutions that seek to decipher information scattered across multiple sources and entities.
Consolidated information means organizations can better analyze and act on insights hidden in the data.
Operational efficiencies are also achieved through consolidated work streams, automating tasks such as routine paperwork, and implementing predictive analytics.
As data continues to assume a central role in healthcare, the correct approach and systems can translate to better health outcomes for patients, improved reimbursements, and a culture of proactive readiness.
Healthcare Quality Improvement Trend #10: Personalized Medicine
Personalized medicine tailored to the unique needs, genetic makeup, and lifestyle of each patient will continue to be an important trend in healthcare.
Moving past a one-size-fits-all approach could lead to fewer ineffective interventions and better outcomes. For example, doctors have known for as long as they’ve been prescribing medicines that no drug affects every patient in the same way. Yet for decades, the standard way of figuring out which drug would work was trial and error. The field of pharmacogenomics aims to understand how genetic variations influence individual responses to medications. Genetic tests for guiding treatment decisions are becoming increasingly available across diverse areas of medical care. These tests get more-effective drugs to patients earlier in their treatment and with fewer negative side effects, and some even reduce costs. Now, a physician can select a treatment based on a patient’s genetic profile that may not only minimize harmful side effects and guarantee a more successful result, but can be less cost-effective compared with a ‘trial-and-error’ approach to disease treatment.
As we move into a healthcare landscape increasingly customized for some patients—both in treatment and service—we must also make sure that we’re expanding access so that more patients can benefit from its advantages.