Opinion: Innovation can only be fuelled by engagement

Andre Daoud, CEO, Medcare Hospitals and Medical Centres, on why the full potential of healthcare technology can only be realized if there is constant patient engagement

Daoud: For the patient to gain the most from sharing their most personal information digitally, the technology must be secure, safe and interoperable.
Daoud: For the patient to gain the most from sharing their most personal information digitally, the technology must be secure, safe and interoperable.

The healthcare landscape is fast evolving, with rapidly developing technology infrastructure that draws from advanced artificial intelligence (AI), telehealth and connected care. While several solutions based on these platforms are simplifying administrative functions, enhancing patient experience and lowering costs, their full potential can only be realised if there is constant patient engagement. The patient will remain the most important element within delivery of care. Bridging this gap can enable that innovation is more closely integrated with healthcare delivery.

Even at the development stage of any solution, any investment considerations must be made with the aim of offering the utmost user experience and access. By understanding and developing upon what patients want, the platforms can provide real value whilst building on its usability and competence.

For the patient to gain the most from sharing their most personal information digitally, the technology must be secure, safe and interoperable. Strict but at the same time forward-looking, policies must be implemented when it comes to transfer of data. Today in the age of the smartphone, we are already bombarded by a myriad of applications and devices, but it is important that we provide an environment for the technology to ‘learn’ where it can use patient-based information, and to provide the most personalised results and solutions while meeting individual’s needs and expectations. This will enable a more accurate diagnosis, support operational integrity and facilitate more effective collaboration within the healthcare field.

As an industry we must celebrate the long-term benefits that being an early adopter can provide to the business and to patients. For example, electronic appointment schedules made through our AI-health assistants that use algorithms to learn about the patient allow them to choose their specialist while managing other aspects of their experience online including booking, rescheduling and cancelling, permitted by real-time backend database integration. Providing real value through a seamless patient experience that bridges the digital and the physical has been a fundamental way to get more patients on board to using the platform.

It is important for healthcare providers to get better at talking and learning from each other on how we can simplify our day to day processes including administration, safeguarding patient records and working closely with pharmacies and insurers. We need to invest in team education and develop targeted communication programs to encourage a mind-set shift toward digital in order to reap its rewards and to ensure that technological innovation better integrates with healthcare delivery.

Tailoring a pre-existing solution specifically to patient groups will be behind the next wave of adoption, e.g. a children’s clinic will target a different demographic than sports or oncology. The respectful use of data is enabling a niche and focused approach to customer experience than a one-size fits all approach. Imagine the possibilities if we had personalised recommendations with medication reminders, pre and post-procedure instructions, and communications access to our doctors. It would also drastically reduce the physical burden on health care institutions.

We must have a serious introspective of how we can achieve a more open-data access approach that can service this expectation of personalised healthcare innovation. It will not only give technology developers a better understanding of what patients need but also give patients the ability to access his or her own health data safely and securely at touchpoints of their choosing.

In a future that allows patients to access, aggregate, and transfer their personal data at a desired level to their healthcare provider, we can provide a more personalised healthcare experience, with better clinical outcomes.

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