Healthcare transformation through technology

24 May 2018

Having practised clinically in the UK and then built a digital health company working with private and public insurers across the US and Europe on technology enabled chronic disease management, I believe the issue of what constitutes healthcare transformation through technology requires further definition. Healthcare transformation through technology is commonly thought to be distinct from transformation otherwise – real people doing real things differently. However, I believe that this dichotomy is false and unhelpful. In fact, all health systems are a rich lattice of intersecting processes with related information flows. Each process exists along a continuum from an entirely bespoke and reactive interaction between two people – a patient and a clinician meeting at a point in time to solve a known or unknown problem – to industrial scale personalised and adaptive processes enabled by machine learning with distinct stages in between these two poles.

I have learned that the secret of enabling transformation through technology involves not just identifying the processes to improve but also seeing such transformation as an extension of existing process engineering. This means appreciating that (in the chronic disease management context) the patient is the producer of their own health and we (as operatives of the health system) are the suppliers of the raw materials for the production and building of an information system intentionally and proactively, rather than as an afterthought.

We are in the swell of a powerful wave of transformation with an industrial revolution of information processing exploding about us. Embracing this energy will require clinicians to work effectively with engineers and data scientists on problems that matter, not just problems that are interesting or available, and all to commit to rebuilding the system from the patient’s point of view. The vision should be a health system that is proactive, personalised and adaptive at national scale, but still feels intuitively like care. What is needed is the leadership, models of collaborative working and incentive structure to do so. This is the real transformation.

Dr Trishan Panch, Primary Care Physician, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer, Wellframe

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