ISVs developing solutions for healthcare need to stay ahead of trends to deliver the right solutions to this vertical market at the right time. Abbas Dhilawala, CTO of Galen Data, shares his insights on applications healthcare providers need today and how those needs may evolve in the future.
DevPro Journal: What are the most important technology trends in healthcare?
Abbas Dhilawala: I see three major trends in healthcare:
- Consumerization of medical technology: We’re starting to see the lines blur between Fitbits and other “wellness” devices with those of more traditional medical devices. For example, the new generation of the Apple Watch has recently updated to include ECG (electrocardiogram) technology, and it was accepted by the FDA as a Class II medical device.
- Changes to healthcare delivery: The traditional healthcare delivery setting has always been a hospital, clinic or lab. However, there are more and more instances of healthcare services being delivered remotely. Telehealth services such as remote consultations are on the rise. So are diagnostic testing kits such as ovulation testing, UTI testing, genetic testing and testing for strep throats. Remote or at-home services are attractive not only because of convenience, but because they have the potential to save costs.
- Intelligent assists systems: Intelligent assist systems use artificial intelligence and machine learning to assess data from a wide variety of sources. These can assist clinicians and patients with building a better picture of what is happening and then make better decisions regarding treatment or therapy
DevPro Journal: Are patients demanding easier access to records?
Abbas Dhilawala: There is definitely more emphasis by the patients to play a part in the healthcare decision-making process. That involves access to information. However, it is important to note that information about one’s health does not always equate to data about one’s health. Raw data can be overwhelming and quickly overbearing. What patients are demanding is more processed data that provides them with enough information to make a decision.
DevPro Journal: Are healthcare providers using customer-facing technology more often?
Abbas Dhilawala: Yes. This is evident both in the consumerization of healthcare where traditional healthcare delivery models are completely sidestepped, but also in the traditional setting where technology that has become mainstream in the consumer world, such as intelligent assistants (Google Assistant, Alexa etc.), Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality etc., are used by clinicians to improve healthcare delivery.
DevPro Journal: How do healthcare organizations use technology to manage more payments coming from consumers rather than insurers?
Abbas Dhilawala: For healthcare organizations, the consumerization of healthcare represents a new paradigm. In the past, medical devices were more targeted toward healthcare providers and payers – now there is a demand for direct-to-consumer products. A good example is 23andMe that is bringing gene testing, something that is traditionally done in a lab and covered by insurance, directly to consumers at a reasonable price point. Technology can help to streamline the patient experience and cost which allows healthcare organizations to skip the insurance process altogether. This does not work for all use cases but can be a significant market for certain kind of healthcare service.
DevPro Journal: Is the shift to value-based healthcare impacting the types of solutions healthcare providers need?
Abbas Dhilawala: Absolutely. With the shift towards value-based care, there is an emphasis on disease management. This includes making sure the patient does not relapse and also that patients with potential with major or chronic problems, are monitored and early intervention is applied wherever possible. Remote monitoring services, home-based healthcare, intelligent system etc. all play a role towards that goal.
DevPro Journal: What are the most important things for software developers to remember when providing solutions for healthcare?
Abbas Dhilawala: Two most important things we focus on are a) User Experience and b) Value proposition. User experience (whether the patient or provider) is important for adoption and retention of a solution. Solutions that don’t mesh with existing workflow for patients and clinicians are quickly forgotten regardless of the value they add. The value proposition is something that needs to be considered when developing a new solution or enhancing an existing one. Unless something truly adds value to the user, don’t include it. This helps in keeping this simple, improve usability and avoids applications that have a lot of features that never get used.