The purpose of transformative health is to change our lives for the better. In our five part blog series exploring transformative health, so far, we’ve introduced what we mean by transformative health and dug deeper into the paradigm shifts in philosophy driving change and the types of product development that are coming from them.
In the industry, there has also been a revolution in the drivers of transformative healthcare innovation, and the companies creating these innovations are our heroes. Traditionally, innovation was all about the healthcare product, but now we’re seeing change across the spectrum, from strategic focus to delivery. So, what are the innovation trends driving transformative healthcare forward?
1. Data-driven innovation
Data-driven insight is behind a wave of transformation across the healthcare industry. It’s been enabled by modern tech such as super computers, artificial intelligence, and mobile connectivity.
Clinicians are already able to tap into the massive processing and AI functionality of networks such as Google Deepmind and IBM Watson. They can process vast amounts of data, far beyond what a human could sift and understand in a lifetime, to gain population-level insights on what variables affect the efficacy of care.
This can then be matched back to individuals, for more personalised and appropriate decision-making about treatment.
This is also set to overturn the traditional model of clinical trials. Apple’s ResearchKit (which works across all its devices, including watches) opens up the floor for studies which are no longer tied to any one hospital, or even one country. Simpler and quicker to achieve a representative sample; plus admin is reduced when data can be collected in an automated way, directly from participants.
Example screenshots of the “survey” module of the ResearchKit
2. Efficiency through technology
Technology is also driving transformations which help health providers to attain greater efficiency and accountability. One example is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging of equipment so procurement can track what they’ve bought more effectively – and healthcare professionals can tell exactly what, if anything, has been left inside a patient, whether deliberately or not.
Computer systems monitor a patient’s care, e.g. their infection control or medicine regime, and combine that with short and long term results. This provides an immediate overview that not only benefits their care but also helps administrators to assess the bigger picture for patient flow, infection and recover rates. Ultimately this helps to identify issues, monitor and reduce costs.
Technological efficiencies also enable machines and processes to talk to each other so, for example, a scan in the x-ray department of another hospital immediately becomes available to a consultant making an assessment about the best course of treatment for his patient. Even simple administrative tasks are being supported through tech, enabling patients to coordinate their own appointment through online booking.
3. A partnership approach
‘Partnership working’ sounds likes a simple term, because it is. The process has been part of the NHS for a while, with care and health organisations working together and numerous public-private partnerships.
In the private healthcare sector, however, companies historically relied on mergers and acquisitions to hit growth targets rather than partnerships. Whilst this is still true of many giants like Medtronic, the trend is now partnerships at every level.
It’s all about tapping into outside ideas and finding ‘lean’ processes to get them to market quickly; something that’s often hard for healthcare behemoths to do internally, due to long-term development cycles and organisational inertia. For example, Novartis are working with the likes of Qualcomm for their experience in data-driven tech. And companies such as Philips and J&J have projects underway with IBM Watson to investigate potential innovation with big data.
Companies have always worked with academia, but not previously on the scale Philips has done with MIT. Philips moved their US R&D centre to Cambridge, Massachusetts to cement that relationship and those with US government bodies.
The partnership advantage goes two ways of course: on the other side of things, non-healthcare giants like Qualcomm and Google are using these relationships with traditional healthcare companies, as well as with start-ups, to break into the business at running pace. Similarly, groups like the 100,000 Genomes project rely on their partnership structure to generate data as well as funding.
As we have already mentioned, the purpose of transformative health is to change our lives for the better. That’s why the companies driving this change are our heroes. They are driven by the desire to make a real difference to human lives through innovation trends in the healthcare industry.
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