In Sickness and in Health: How Technology is Transforming the Physician Experience

As digital patient data becomes a critical element in medical care, I’m willing to bet you’ve heard more than one physician complain about feeling like little more than a glorified data entry clerk, forced to spend more time interacting with a computer than with the patients they’re meant to treat.

Add in the fact that many doctors simply don’t know where that data ends up — or how it is used — and it’s no wonder that physicians are often cynical when it comes to introducing new technology solutions in a health care setting.

There’s good news, though. Forward-thinking brands are putting greater focus on improving the physician experience using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and Internet of Things (IoT) technology and highlighting how technology can reduce appointment wait times, expedite prescriptions and referrals, increase efficacy of treatment plans, and even help doctors battle mental fatigue and burnout.

How are they doing it? To answer, let’s look at just some of the brands at the front lines of the health care experience revolution.

 

AI-Enhanced Diagnosis

In a typical emergency room in the United States, a radiologist can expect to review as many as two hundred imaging study cases in a single day. That translates to thousands of images and an almost constant onslaught of input that leads even the most experienced and capable radiologists to suffer significant cognitive fatigue. Plus, the sheer volume of imagery leaves little time for physicians to review relevant patient records (leading to less-informed diagnoses).

Enter IBM, which recently launched its IBM Research Grand Challenge aimed at solving this critical problem for a specific subset of the physician community. The project, dubbed Medical Sieve, leverages state-of-the-art AI and machine learning to quickly filter images and detect anomalies using holistic clinical information that doctors would otherwise not have the time to review. 

Although still in its early stages, the project indicates that promising changes are on the horizon. AI-enabled technology is already assisting physicians with diagnoses (CheXNet, an algorithm developed by a team at Stanford, can detect pneumonia in chest X-rays better than many practicing radiologists), but Medical Sieve may be one of the first innovations that is directly targeted at solving a physician pain point as a way of indirectly improving patient outcomes.

With physicians having more time to spend on in-depth reviews of patient histories and records (and more face time to do it), patients will invariably benefit from more human-centered care and more efficient treatment.

 

Hands-Free Dictation

According to a 2016 study, physicians spend about two hours doing computer work for every hour spent face-to-face with a patient — and that’s regardless of the brand of medical software. It’s safe to say that physicians don’t complete nearly a decade of school and spend countless nights studying to have their eyes glued to a screen.

As voice technology and AI continue to advance, however, their applications in health-care settings are becoming even more promising. AugMedix, for instance, promises to ease doctors’ administrative burden by leveraging Google Glass and voice-enabled technology. Physicians using the platform can complete digital patient charts, review medical records, and even write prescriptions in real time and without ever touching a keyboard.

Perhaps most exciting, though, is the smartwatch-turned-medical assistant technology championed by industry newcomer Notable Health. After capturing an audio recording of the visit, Notable’s platform allows physicians to add referrals, labs, and prescriptions in natural language and even prepares these materials for sign-off in the doctor’s office’s EHR. The technology has proven so promising that Notable recently closed $13.5 million in Series A financing to expand its AI-powered platform.

For patients, a lighter administrative burden on doctors means office visits that aren’t centered entirely on a computer, more time to speak directly with the physician, and shorter wait times. Plus, faster and more efficient charting means quicker access to prescriptions or specialists.

 

Advancing Bedside Manner

Because an average doctor’s panel size can range from hundreds to thousands depending on the specialty, it comes as no surprise that patient follow-up, bedside support, and monitoring are constant points of friction for professionals. Even the most efficient docs often go beyond their threshold of effective patient care, leaving them unable to monitor and follow up with patients who want more physician face time. 

This is the physician pain point in Orbita’s crosshairs and the foundation for their in-facility operations and remote patient monitoring technology. By enabling hospital rooms with voice-enabled technology, the Orbita system guides patients through facility information and navigation while allowing physicians to stay in near-constant contact with them. Even beyond health-care settings, Orbita’s remote monitoring tech allows doctors to gather information from wearables, home health devices, and other connected devices to create collaborative care experiences in a patient’s home.

Orbita empowers patients to continue their treatment in the comfort of their own homes, while doctors can ensure that their patients remain compliant with ongoing treatment plans. With up to 30 percent of prescriptions going unfilled and as much as 50 percent of medications for chronic disease not being taken as directed, this kind of connectivity addresses the critical issue of patient noncompliance without burdening patients with multiple follow-up visits.

 

Reimagining the Health-Care Experience 

Now more than ever, physicians’ and patients’ well-being are synonymous — and only the brands that capitalize on the present opportunities for transformation will continue to stay ahead of the curve.

That’s why we make it our mission to help our clients re-platform their legacy systems and reimagine the health-care experience from the ground up. Digital transformation is a prerequisite for continued success in the rapidly changing landscape of health care, and that transformation starts with a vision for a better health-care experience.
 

If you'd like to learn more about how Solstice is transforming the health-care industry, shoot me a note at hshatouhy@solstice.com.