2 smart healthcare trends that are saving lives (and cutting costs)

Thu, 2016-09-15 15:28 -- Doug Peeples

New technologies and ideas are constantly changing the healthcare industry. Our story explains two trends cities need to be aware of because they can greatly improve the quality of healthcare and its safety, enable patients to more actively participate in the care they receive, streamline the healthcare delivery system and do it for less money. And keep in mind that quality healthcare is a service your citizens expect. It's also a very attractive asset for new and relocating businesses, and that can be a big plus for your city's economy. — Doug Peeples

Prevention is a proven way to reduce your health care costs. Conditions such as high blood pressure are fairly simple and inexpensive to treat if caught at the early stages. If not caught early, those conditions can become extremely expensive and life-changing if they escalate to heart attacks and strokes. The key to successful prevention programs is getting citizens involved in their own health care.

1. Focus on people first
It may seem strange to say "Focus on people first." Medical care is about people, isn't it? Yes, but one major healthcare trend concentrates on getting patients actively engaged in managing their health and working with the physicians and technicians who treat them. So how do you do that?

As Frederick Muench, digital health intervention director for the Northwell Health Department of Psychiatry, put it in a Mobi Health News article, "Patient engagement is whatever the patient thinks it is. If we start at that point, work backward by figuring out the barriers and the fitting technology in, we're able to overcome those barriers and judge success as outcomes." And for that to happen, patients need to be able to manage their care in partnership with their physicians, clinicians and others involved in their treatment.

University of Chicago Medicine considers the patient experience in addition to patient engagement. Sue Murphy, chief experience and innovation officer for the center, describes engagement as the way patients work with their doctors and other care providers and patient experience is about the results of the treatment and the level of patient satisfaction.

Patient engagement is not a simple process and there isn't a lot of information available to guide physicians and clinicians in how to meaningfully achieve it. But the healthcare industry is betting big that putting patients in the driver's seat is the best way to ensure healthier citizens and better treatment and care.

While conceding that coordinating healthcare treatment has its challenges, Susan Wiemeyer, national managing director of Council Lead Partner Microsoft's U.S. Health and Life Sciences, explained "The world is switching to be more patient-centric than system-centric."