New laws and regulations are being enacted that will transform the health landscape for years to come. In addition, advanced technologies being introduced to hospitals and clinics are rapidly increasing the quality of patient care.
As continuing economic evolutions in the health care industry drastically impact both patients and providers, the need for knowledgeable health administration professionals who are prepared for these evolutionary changes is skyrocketing.
The following are four specific types of changes that health administration professionals might expect to face in the future of health care.
Extensive Patient Data Creating a Need for Health Care Analysis
Consider every bit of data that a hospital or clinic gathers on a single patient on any given day: past conditions, current prescriptions, family health history. Now imagine the total amount of data collected from all patients in a year. Then try to picture how much additional data and information health care practitioners need to organize throughout that same year — for example, how much a particular piece of surgical equipment has been used, the supply levels of medications, or even just the schedules of doctors, nurses, and other medical staff members.
Managing that amount of data and information raises important questions about not only the best way to organize it, but also how to effectively analyze and interpret it to better benefit patients and organizations well into the future of health care.
There is a strong need for analysis of health care data. But in every profession, there is already a limited number of professionals available to effectively interpret data. Writing for CIO, Bob Violino notes that even though there are thousands of data scientist openings expected for 2019, companies often face problems trying to fill those types of because of talent shortages.
The lack of knowledgeable data professionals, as well as the complexities of gathering, managing, and interpreting health care data, presents a golden opportunity for health care administration professionals with a strong background in data analysis and management.
Artificial Intelligence in the Future of Health Care
Consider this scenario: In the United States, a woman wearing a smartwatch starts to receive signals from her wearable device that she is going into cardiac arrest. The smartwatch immediately alerts a nearby EMT who then transports the woman to an ER, saving her life. At the same time a man is receiving his results from his doctor after a standard yearly checkup, in which practitioners have used pattern recognition to identify early prostate cancer. In another location, a team of practitioners and researchers is using automated digital tools to identify patterns and risk factors for a recent breakout of a rare disease in their local region, enabling them to more effectively diagnose conditions and treat patients.
All these examples illustrate the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in the health care industry. But the application of AI technologies and devices will likely become even more widespread throughout health care’s future. According to Engineering.com, AI is poised to improve health care procedures, such as the following:
● Medical imaging. Using AI to detect diseases and conditions by examining a patient X-rays.
● Mental and physical health screening. Incorporating chatbots (conversational AI) to help diagnose conditions during initial consultations.
● Patient care and treatment. Using AI to assist patients at home who may be disabled or have mental health conditions like dementia.
Ultimately, AI will continue to be used in various methods to provide a more personable, higher-quality level of care.
Current and future health administrators need to be well-versed in how AI is impacting health care, so they may be able to provide informed recommendations to staff and help guide their organizations as these technological developments continue.
Data-Driven Services Leading to Personalized Insurance Policies
Think about a person who is experiencing severe discomfort in their right ankle. They are not only unsure if their insurance covers treatment for their condition, but also whether their pain can be addressed by a general practitioner in a clinic closer to home or only by a more specialized professional whose practice is on the other side of town. While insurance providers can gather the relevant information, organizing and presenting it in a way that makes sense to beneficiaries has been difficult.
Data is changing how practitioners and health care organizations treat patients. Insurance companies are increasingly swamped with data and often do not have the resources to effectively analyze it and provide the best or most cost-efficient solutions to patients. “Marrying pricing data with quality metrics and clinical pathways to identify the highest value, lowest cost providers for specific procedures and services is the first battle,” writes Jennifer Bresnick on HealthITAnalytics.com.
The continued integration and application of data throughout the future of health care will have benefits and challenges for health professionals. Health care administrators should become adept in data integration to recommend both to patients and to organizations the specific tools and methods they can use to navigate insurance data effectively.
Blockchain Can Make the Future of Health Care More Efficient
Consider a patient has ended up in the hospital with a strange blood condition that health practitioners have not been able to diagnose. The patient has lived in multiple cities and has consulted with various doctors and specialists over the years, but the hospital staff is having difficulty locating all these records, each of which could play a crucial role in diagnosing the condition. More than that, the hospital staff notices that some of the records came from practitioners who lost their medical license, causing the hospital to question the integrity and authenticity of the records.
Professionals want to know that they have all the necessary data to treat a patient and that the data is trustworthy. Blockchain can be an effective solution to this problem in health care’s future. Blockchain provides a public digital database (a type of ledger) where a person can see where others have adjusted that information. If there was a change in a clinic’s records, for example, blockchain could effectively show what data was changed and how. “Blockchain technology is an excellent counter to these integrity-based attacks, and it’s a good forward-looking tool we might deploy to address them,” writes Robert Lord in Forbes. “With blockchain in place, we’d have an immutable record of changes that could be retroactively examined to see precisely what was changed, when it was changed, and who changed it.”
The potential benefits of blockchain in health care are impressive, but this approach to collecting data is not something that can be easily implemented overnight in health care institutions. There are financial and economic considerations involved, and practitioners and health care staff will need to be educated about how this technology works. Blockchain adoption is a key area in which health care administrators can make an impact. If they become knowledgeable about the benefits and challenges of blockchain, they might also be able to educate other staff members on how it can and should be applied within their organization to improve the future of health care.
Learn More About How to Participate in the Future of Health Care
As health care evolves, so will the demand for professionals who are equipped to grow along with it and implement key changes.
The online Master of Health Administration program at Regis College enables professionals to become effective and intuitive health care managers and leaders who can tackle these challenges and help improve their organizations and the lives of patients. Read more about the program to find out how you can get in on the ground floor of health care’s bright future.