As 2023 draws to a close, it’s time to take an annual collective pause and plan for what’s in store for healthcare in the coming year. In the spirit of tradition and championing innovation in healthcare, here are a few of our observations on the trends that will shape the digital health landscape in 2024.
1. A Measured Approach to Health AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI) was the topic on everyone’s lips this year, but 2024 is shaping up to see the technology implemented in a more measured approach.
Healthcare organizations are starting to realize that the true value of AI lies not in its novelty but in its clinical and operational impact. With nascent generative AI and other technologies flooding the market, many healthcare organizations are taking a cautious approach to point solution adoption. 2024 should see an increased focus on building a secure infrastructure to introduce audio, video, and other sensor-based AI technology safely while improving large-language and other data models to better leverage AI tools.
As a result of this trend, hybrid care models have been on the rise, and their popularity is only set to grow in 2024. These models combine the convenience of remote healthcare staff coupled with the personalized touch of in-person care. Virtual Nursing, in particular, has proven effective as an inpatient workforce multiplier for understaffed hospitals, providing real-time reinforcement to overburdened floor staff.
As telehealth and adjacent technologies continue to advance, expect to see hybrid care models integrated into more acute and nonacute healthcare settings. In the coming years, patients will not only appreciate but come to expect the added layer of care, and healthcare providers will benefit from the improved patient experience and reduced reliance on travel staff.
3. Empowering Patients with Wearable Health Tech
Wearable health technology has been steadily evolving, and 2024 will witness a new era of data-driven insights. From smartwatches and fitness trackers to remote patient monitoring devices, wearables are becoming increasingly sophisticated, offering new sources for real-time health data capture in almost any setting.
In 2024, wearable health tech devices will play a more significant role in chronic disease management and early detection of health issues, both in the patient’s home and in hospital settings. With the adoption of AI technology, wearables will provide even more patient-specific health recommendations and alerts, helping to guide care more proactively.
Caregility CEO Ron Gaboury sees these trends coming together to leave an indelible mark on healthcare in 2024. “AI-enhanced hybrid care sets the stage for emerging home-based care delivery models like hospital-at-home, envisioning a future where highly skilled virtual nurses, alongside bedside clinicians, are empowered by intelligent tools to deliver high-quality patient care directly in patients’ homes.”
From a measured approach to health AI to the continued embrace of hybrid care models, digital health trends continue to redefine the way we approach healthcare. As we step into 2024, one thing is certain: the future of healthcare is digital, patient-centric, and teeming with new possibilities.
As telehealth’s entrenchment in healthcare delivery continues, stakeholders are exploring ways to apply the technology in specialized patient care.
Many of those initiatives seek to improve health access and equity for vulnerable populations such as adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD), aging populations, and other marginalized groups. Interest in condition-specific telehealth programs is also rising as providers aim to improve care for patients navigating treatment for things like cancer, AIDS, mental health conditions, and substance use disorder.
To fund these programs, many resource-strapped, independent, and rural healthcare facilities turn to grant programs. If you fall into this camp, here are several funding opportunities you may wish to consider applying for to support your virtual care initiative.
Federal Telehealth Funding Opportunities
Federal agencies invest millions annually to support better access to quality care for rural and underserved areas.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Rural Health Care Program provides support to eligible healthcare providers for “telecommunications and broadband services necessary for the provision of healthcare.” Supported in collaboration with Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), a not-for-profit corporation charged with administering federal grant funds, the Rural Health Care Program includes two facets:
The Telecommunications Program provides reduced rates to rural health providers for telecommunications and voice services for the use in telehealth.
Additional federal funding opportunities for telehealth and broadband-related programs can be found at Telehealth.HHS.gov. Built by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the site aggregates active funding programs from various outlets including but not limited to:
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)
National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Office of Disease Prevention (ODP)
Several public and private foundations offer annual grant application opportunities. Examples include:
The National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers offers a broader list of current and upcoming funding opportunities available through foundations and within specific regional offerings. Each has either a focus on or a strong potential for telehealth applications.
If you are considering applying for a grant, keep in mind that you do not have to look for grants specifically targeted at telehealth. Most grants encourage the use of technology as part of the solution.
Here are a few additional tips:
Register with sites to receive notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) updates.
Carefully review eligibility criteria to ensure your organization qualifies for funds.
Have a specific plan and well-thought-out program roadmap built prior to applying.
Be aware of all submission requirements, including caveats related to fund matching or precursory Letter of Intent steps you may need to take.
Submit your proposal on time or – better still – ahead of the deadline.
Make sure you’re well-versed in post-award requirements your organization will be expected to meet should you be awarded funding.
Ensure you have cash flow available to cover up-front costs for reimbursement-oriented funding programs.
Develop a plan for program sustainability beyond grant funding.
In the event that your organization does not qualify for grant opportunities or fails to secure funding after applying for one, don’t lose hope! Fleet lease options, pay-as-you-go subscription-based pricing models, and pilot programs through your telehealth partner represent just a few of the other avenues available to bring your virtual care program to life.
90% of physicians believe digital health tools offer significant advantages in patient care.
The digital health tools that garner the most enthusiasm among physicians are tele-visits (57%) followed by remote monitoring devices (53%).
Physicians using virtual visits grew to 80% in 2022, up from 14% in 2016.
Physicians using remote monitoring devices grew to 30% in 2022, up from 12% in 2016.
As virtual and hybrid care models mature, healthcare professionals continue to find new ways to leverage telehealth to drive efficiency and improve patient and clinician experience, particularly in hospital-based settings.
Virtual care is one of the biggest developments to fuel digital transformation in recent healthcare history. What began as a solution to mitigate exposure and maintain ties between providers and patients at home during the pandemic has since spawned a hybrid care movement that seeks to further integrate virtual engagement into the standard of care within inpatient settings.
In 2023, virtual care will continue to carve out its place as a complementary care modality, rather than an add-on or alternative to traditional care. Here are some predictions on what’s in store for virtual care in inpatient settings in the year ahead.
Health Systems will Take a More Strategic Approach to Telehealth
“In 2023, I think we’ll see hospitals and health systems take a more strategic approach to telehealth, in large part to address the staffing crisis, from burnout to the shortage of qualified resources. Inpatient hybrid care models will make virtual engagement available to every patient, giving clinicians and third-party providers remote access to every room. We are rapidly moving to a world where we drop the word telehealth and it just becomes how healthcare is delivered.” – Mike Brandofino, President and COO, Caregility (as quoted in Will We See a Value-Based World in 2023?)
Providers will Consolidate Siloed Telehealth Programs onto Platform-Based Solutions
“Given the tough economic conditions of the past few years, consolidation will be a key driver in health IT initiatives in 2023. Providers will look to centralize siloed telehealth programs onto platform-based solutions that are flexible enough to 1) support use cases across the enterprise, and 2) support integration with innovative connected care devices entering the market. The proper implementation and timely deployment of these resources will play an important role in supporting quality care delivery with a diminished healthcare workforce.” – Ron Gaboury, CEO, Caregility (as quoted in Will Technology Continue to Solve our Healthcare Challenges in 2023?)
Virtual Nursing will Move from Concept to Practical Application
“We’ll see virtual nursing move from concept to practical application as health systems seek to put a dent in workforce shortages in 2023. Hybrid nursing programs introduce virtual support resources and remote work flexibility to nursing teams, which can have a tremendous positive impact on nurse training, clinician experience, and care delivery.” – Wendy Deibert, SVP of Clinical Solutions, Caregility (as quoted in Healthcare Workforce – 2023 Health IT Predictions)
AI and Sensor-Based Tech will Redefine what Care Teams can Accomplish Remotely
“Broader integration of virtual resources into bedside care will create new value for health systems in 2023. Accelerated adoption of virtual workflows in hospitals and home-based care is introducing new use cases for AI and sensor-based technologies that will redefine what care teams can accomplish remotely.” – Pete McLain, Chief Strategy Officer, Caregility
As virtual care and adjacent technologies continue to evolve, they will become vital tools within inpatient care delivery that give health systems new ways to deliver care in a safe, convenient, and cost-effective way.
Virtual Care’s Role in Building Health Equity
In a string of years marred by some of the most challenging times in recent healthcare history, one positive trend is the buzz that has been building around health equity. Recognition of health disparity and the push to reduce it is building.
As providers look to build more accessible and inclusive care models for patients, virtual care has an important role to play. Here are a few examples of how telehealth is helping the cause.
Rural Care Access
Telehealth has long been lauded for its ability to reduce rural health disparity by facilitating virtual access to specialist care for patients in medically underserved areas.
Virtual care encounters also reduce barriers to care for patients who reside far from their local providers. Recent research revealed that patients with longer commute times to care sites were more likely to use telemedicine services, and the likelihood of having a telemedicine appointment grew with increasing commute times. Virtual engagement options similarly improve care access for those who have schedule restrictions and those without reliable transportation, many of whom are also economically disadvantaged.
To mitigate the risk of amplifying health inequity for those without access to broadband or enabling technology, many healthcare organizations are dispensing devices to patients to ensure equitable access to virtual care. Local, community-based outlets are increasingly providing device access, as well.
Engaging with Disabled Patients
One area where virtual care and digital health innovation can play a tremendous role in promoting health equity is within the disabled community. Travel arrangements can be particularly difficult and costly for patients with mobility limitations.
Virtual engagement is ripe for further innovation in disabled care. As advancements in computer vision and precision eye-tracking enter the market, non-verbal patients are empowered to engage with remote clinicians. The incorporation of eye-tracking into virtual care also introduces new possibilities in the field of remote clinical diagnostics for neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s, autism, and Parkinson’s, where problems in the brain can typically be detected in eye function.
Language Interpretation Services
For many patients, healthcare can be out of reach due to communication barriers. This can lead to greater health disparity, particularly within healthcare organizations serving culturally diverse patient populations. Patients with limited English proficiency, or LEP, are at a disadvantage to receive equal access to services due to the language barrier.
By integrating virtual remote interpretation capabilities into telehealth programs, health systems are reducing health inequities for deaf, hard of hearing, and LEP patients. This ensures 24/7 access to high-quality remote interpreters trained to provide culturally competent communication to support patient care. Video-enabled virtual engagement additionally supports ASL-based communication and allows providers to pick up on non-verbal patient cues and body language.
Decentralized Clinical Trial Support
Telehealth is also being used to support greater diversity in clinical trials where minorities have traditionally been underrepresented. Some 50% of FDA trials are conducted in one to two percent of all US zip codes. This limits research into the efficacy of care treatments across diverse populations. Through virtually enabled remote clinical trials, medical researchers can cast a broader geographic net to ensure that the patient sample is more reflective of the population.
Each of these virtual care initiatives plays a part in reducing health disparities and advancing patient care. And we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of what’s possible. As hybrid care and digital health innovation continue to ramp up in the coming years, telehealth will continue to redefine how we think about patient engagement and care.
Providers Weigh in on Digital Health Priorities and Pain Points
Roughly 3,000 healthcare stakeholders recently gathered in Chicago for the 2022 Becker’s Health IT + Digital Health + RCM Annual Meeting. Caregility was on site to join the conversation, which focused on “the future of business and clinical technologies” in healthcare. Here we distill what we learned about the health IT trends that were top of mind among health system executives in attendance.
Managing Connected Health
In an industry where the velocity of digital innovation can be difficult to keep pace with, how do healthcare CIOs and technical teams identify best-fit solutions and prioritize IT initiatives?
Clinical and IT leaders from various health systems shared their approach:
Create criteria to assess the seamlessness of integration during evaluations
Select tools that are scalable over the long term to reduce friction downstream
Consider the level of support that will be needed beyond implementation
Quantify the cost of doing things the old way to understand ROI
Health systems reported having as many as 1,500 healthcare applications in use with well over half of those apps being underutilized. Panelist David Reis, Ph.D., CIO at University of Miami Health System, shared that he works with his team to conduct portfolio rationalization monthly to help determine which apps should be optimized versus sunset. He and his team consider two important factors when making those determinations: 1) Does the app pose a cybersecurity threat? 2) Is there an alternative tool with a broader use case scenario? Risk mitigation and resource consolidation are key influencers.
Migrating to the Cloud
As tech infrastructure gets more complex, health systems are partnering with public cloud hyperscalers like AWS and Microsoft to better support burst capacity, real-time computing, and batch processing. Panelist Andrew Rosenberg, MD, EVP and CIO at Michigan Medicine, noted that as modern methods evolve it can be difficult to find experienced technical staff locally. Hyperscalers have the benefit of offering IT teams dedicated expertise in the areas of resiliency and security.
Many health systems simply “want out of the data center business,” as panelist Neal Patel, MD, CIO at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, put it. He feels his organization is better positioned to manage costs with the cloud. “It’s not cheaper, but cloud metering gives us a better process for allocating where the spend is, which allows us to make more judicious budgeting decisions.”
Several sessions at the event touched on lessons learned as telehealth becomes further embedded in care delivery. Health systems are leveraging telehealth to provide clinical reinforcement, take tasks off clinicians’ plates, and free up in-person engagement for patients who need it most. This includes a push to build inpatient telehealth into patient rooms to create capacity in acute settings.
“The workforce is shrinking, and we’re saying, ‘do more,’” said panelist Christine Vanzandbergen, VP of Analytics and Research at Penn Medicine. “Where can we use [telehealth] in lieu of one-on-one care? Who are the people and skills we need?”
Panelist Dave McSwain, MD, CMIO at UNC Health, made a call for reimbursement models that incentivize hybrid care that blends in-person and virtual engagement. “We need to avoid silos and stop talking about telehealth versus in-person care,” McSwain explained. “It’s integrated care versus telehealth-only care versus in-person-only care. Which is honestly probably best?”
With the relatively immature telehealth platform market largely still in growing stages, panelists encouraged health systems to:
Identify vendor partners willing to let you influence development
Field proof of concept programs to fine-tune processes and establish baselines prior to broader rollout
Be mindful of legal issues like privacy, patient consent, and clinician licensure
Establish a process for virtual care documentation to flow back into the EMR
When assessing success, at a minimum evaluate call responses, downtime, patient feedback or complaints, and utilization. Some health systems are exploring tech centers to ensure patients are comfortable with home health tools.
Where Does it Hurt?
Of the many challenges healthcare organizations are looking to overcome as part of their health IT strategy, staffing shortages were most often cited. “We have to drive an economic bottom line without burning out our team,” said panelist Anthony Moorman, Director of Solution Marketing at Qventus. This means using technology to automate manual steps wherever possible.
Speakers offered unique perspectives on ways to offset workforce hurdles. “Can we do ‘over the shoulder’ nurse guidance for new hires?” posed panelist Meghan Huffman, AVP of Telehealth Field Operations and Programs at HCA Healthcare. There was also a call for digital program reform to modernize clinical education. And as panelist Mohit Bhasin, MD, Medical Director at Sentara Heart Hospital, observed, our industry “doesn’t just lag in tech – we lag in support resources. The majority of nurses are women, yet no one has onsite daycare. We need to mimic other industries.”
Other pain points cited by panelists included:
Validation and governance of patient-generated data
The emerging need for “explained AI” or transparency in AI algorithms
The need for HIPAA, now more than 25 years old, to be rewritten for connected health to ensure we “balance privacy without stifling innovation”
Panelists also encourage peers not to get bogged down in the idea that they are behind. “Shiny object syndrome” and what is picked up by the media “makes you feel like you’re the only health system without all the stuff,” said speaker Michael Saad, SVP and CIO at University of Tennessee Medical Center. “Innovation is different for each health system. Focus on your personal business drivers.”
What’s Next in Virtual Behavioral Health?
Though the shortage of physicians and staff resources across virtually all specialties challenges healthcare organizations throughout the United States, the gap between supply and demand is particularly severe in behavioral health.
According to an article in JAMA, mental illness, including substance abuse, was the leading cause of disease burden in 2015, surpassing heart disease and cancer. Suicides among young people between the ages of 10 and 24 rose 47% between 2008 and 2019, according to a White House issue brief. The anxiety and social isolation wrought by the pandemic only deepened the problem. An estimated 50% of students reported symptoms of depression during the pandemic, while half of women and one-third of men reported deteriorating mental health, the White House brief notes.
While approximately one in five American adults—52.9 million people—experience some form of mental illness, according to the National Institute for Mental Health, many don’t receive adequate treatment. In fact, half of individuals age 18 and older with serious mental illness report that they did not receive needed care at least once in the previous year, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows.
The growing gap for behavioral health services
As healthcare institutions of all sizes and in all geographic locations know well, there simply aren’t enough psychiatrists, psychologists, chemical dependence specialists, and other behavioral health professionals available to treat the plethora of mental health ailments affecting Americans. The gap is substantial and growing. Seventy-seven percent of U.S. counties report a severe shortage of psychiatrists, according to a study by the National Council of Behavioral Health.
With the pandemic’s onset, healthcare organizations scrambled to set up remote medical services in keeping with federal and state safety mandates. Though they’ve learned that virtual visits work better for some types of individuals, conditions, and situations than others, the natural fit between behavioral health and telehealth stood out almost immediately.
Telehealth for behavioral health care, also known as telebehavioral health, telemental health, or telepsych, has quickly become the new normal for many behavioral health professionals and patients. According to a data analysis by consulting firm Mercer, outpatient behavioral health visits conducted via telehealth rose from 1% of encounters before COVID-19 to 50% by the second quarter of 2020 and stayed at that level through the third quarter of 2021.
Recent data shows that although virtual outpatient care has declined since 2020, 36% of patients with mental health and substance use disorders still use telehealth in 2022.
The convenience and privacy of virtual visits
Telebehavioral health continues to show promise as a strategy to narrow the gap between supply and demand now that the worst of the pandemic has passed. The use of virtual care platforms by health systems is helping them address the provider shortage, reduce wait times for care, and reach patients in remote and rural areas who might not otherwise have access to treatment. Virtual care modalities also alleviate the lingering stigma associated with mental illness by allowing patients to receive care in the privacy of their own homes, thus reducing appointment cancellations and supporting improved outcomes.
Behavioral health professionals and patients alike appreciate the convenience and time savings of virtual visits. But beyond these advantages, research reveals that quality is not being sacrificed in favor of ease. Remote services are equally or even more effective than in-person services in the treatment of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress, ADHD, and a variety of other disorders, studies are beginning to show.
At the same time, telebehavioral health offers “a pathway for organizations that want to develop more robust behavioral health programs but lack the staff to do so,” allowing them to expand their reach, says healthcare consultant Howard J. Gershon of New Heights Group in an article in Healthcare Executive. “People are learning that telesolutions in mental health services are readily available and work well. This shot in the arm will help us use these options to treat more people,” Gershon contends.
The widespread acceptance of virtual behavioral health
A recent survey by telehealth scheduling company Zocdoc found that both providers and patients see telehealth as a complement to, but not as a replacement for, in-person visits—except for mental health care. The steady increase in virtual visits for behavioral health care (from 74% in 2020 to 85% in 2021 to 87% in 2022, according to the survey) indicates that the option has gained a level of traction in the field that’s likely to last.
With telebehavioral health’s widespread acceptance, organizations that have not yet developed a telebehavioral health service may want to explore the feasibility of incorporating such a service into their virtual offerings. For organizations that already have telebehavioral care in place, now would be a good time to take a step back and revisit the program to optimize it and see how and where it fits in with their system’s larger long-term digital health strategy.
The 2022 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule lists telebehavioral health services that are permanently reimbursable as well as those that are covered only during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Telehealth News Roundup: Virtual Care Beyond COVID-19
Amid increased safety precautions, office closures, and crowded hospitals, many patients turned to telemedicine during the COVID-19 crisis. According to data from McKinsey, telehealth use has increased 38x compared to the pre-COVID baseline.
However, as life gradually returns to normal, what will the future of telehealth look like? Will patient demand for virtual visits remain high, or revert to a preference for in-person office visits? Will facilities and insurance plans continue to support virtual care delivery?
In our monthly news recap, we explore how providers, patients, and the government expect to see telehealth evolve beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
The purpose of telemedicine has always been to care for patients where they are, but it took the explosive rise in demand in 2020 to bring that promise to fruition. While demand has leveled off, it remains much higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic. As life begins to return to normal, what should patients expect from telemedicine? Experts predict that as much as half of care could be delivered remotely — but much of that depends on if and how government regulations allow for the expansion of telehealth services.
The recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act includes a provision that guarantees that patients with Medicare will continue to have access to telehealth services for at least five months after the Biden administration declares an end to the nation’s public health emergency. The flexibility of telemedicine has played a vital role in improving patient access to care during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this legislation makes important strides toward permanent expansion of telehealth coverage.
New data shows that in December 2021, national telehealth use rose by 11.4%. Researchers believe this increase is related to the rise of the COVID-19 Omicron variant around the same time period. Prior to this, telehealth use had showed a slight decline over the second half of 2021 as COVID-19 cases dropped. The same research reveals some of the diagnoses that make up the largest portion of telehealth claims, such as mental health conditions, acute respiratory disease, and hypertension.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many healthcare providers are considering whether and how to continue offering virtual care. According to a recent Optum survey, 93% of providers indicate they want to continue to utilize telemedicine. For many providers, telehealth offers added convenience, although it also comes with frustrations, mainly around setting patient expectations and managing the technical details of virtual visits.
AI and Preventive Care: New Solutions for More Effective Prevention
Preventive care is a pillar of values-based care and a critical element of patient-centered virtual care solutions. Preventive medicine helps patients avoid the onset of illness, slows disease progression, and reduces the chance of developing severe complications.
Advances in augmented intelligence continually provide new solutions for more effective prevention, improved primary care quality, and lower medical costs. AI-driven preventive care can extend life expectancy and improve quality of life in patients living with chronic conditions, including diabetes, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Preventive Analytics Models
Augmented intelligence uses AI algorithms to enhance clinician understanding and decision-making regarding an individual patient. Predictive and prescriptive analytics are designed to enhance prevention and support positive outcomes.
Predictive models use past patient data to identify trends that suggest future outcomes. Machine learning continuously incorporates ongoing patient data to make individual predictions more accurate. Predictive models help clinicians understand risks and potential paths of disease progression and healthcare requirements so they can design more effective care plans.
Prescriptive models look beyond medical history, incorporating cultural, economic, and environmental factors associated with specific health outcomes. These models support provider decision-making with patient-specific recommendations that make interventions more effective. They also offer guidance designed to empower patients in their health management choices.
The study confirmed that the system accurately identified when patients used an insulin pen (99%) or inhaler (97%). The results also show accuracy in detecting missing steps and inaccurate duration of administration.
Virtual care innovations have the potential to elevate patient engagement and care management. Augmented intelligence provides solutions that increase participation in disease management programs and customize care management options.
The McKinsey model identified a connection between poor medication adherence and increased ER visits in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. Machine learning algorithms then identified patterns associated with willingness to change behavior to improve health.
Those insights help care managers implement targeted interventions to increase medication adherence. Patient-specific guidance for intervention delivery, such as optimal times, frequency, and communication methods (phone calls, email, text), also boost patient compliance.
Diagnostic AI models analyze symptoms to assist providers in accurately diagnosing health conditions. Diagnostic analytics are most commonly used in diagnosing patients who already present with concerning symptoms. However, AI enables diagnostics to play a larger role in preventive medication.
Innovations in preventive diagnostic models can detect serious conditions in their earliest stages, in some cases earlier and more accurately than standard health screenings.
Early confirmation of an NSCLC diagnosis provides the highest chance of effective treatment and reduces the risk of dying from lung cancer. Considering that NSCLS currently has a life expectancy of just five years past diagnosis, Medial EarlySign could dramatically change what this diagnosis means for patients and families.
New advances in AI have placed image-signal processing techniques in the foreground of remote vital signs monitoring. Simple cameras can provide enough digital data for leading-edge machine learning to accurately monitor heart and respiratory rates, blood oxygen levels, and blood pressure.
Like wearable sensors, image-based AI can identify risk factors in real-time, enabling early interventions that help prevent declining health and adverse patient events. However, smartphone solutions, such as this software development kit currently pursuing FDA approval, have advantages over wearables, including lower costs and simplified user interfaces.
Care facilities can utilize in-room cameras to monitor patient vital signs. A 2021 paper exploring contactless, image-based monitoring of hospitalized COVID-19 patients describes AI and machine learning applied to images captured by ordinary cameras. Such platforms detect barely perceptible changes in skin color and subtle body movements to measure vital signs and identify abnormal patterns associated with negative health trajectories.
Preventive analytics have far-reaching potential for value-based healthcare. However, like all technology, they do carry some risk. Ongoing development must continue to address issues arising from inadequate or corrupted datasets, technical and user errors, and over-reliance by providers. Raw data and human bias can compromise prescriptive models, undermining the goal of health equity.
Proactive developers and other stakeholders are working to correct these issues. Nevertheless, providers must remember that AI tools support, but do not replace, clinical experience, knowledge, and critical reasoning skills.
Combining precision AI with provider expertise, however, has already caused a shift in the healthcare industry. As the technology continues to evolve, patients and providers will continue to experience the transformative benefits of augmented intelligence.
Caregility uses data analytics to provide robust decision support for providers in acute settings across the care continuum. Our award-winning, HIPAA-certified, interoperable platform connects all stakeholders, optimizing patient engagement, care delivery options, and clinician workflows. To learn more about how our virtual care platform enhances preventive care, contact us today.
Telehealth News Roundup: Strategies to Combat Hospital Labor Shortages
If COVID-19 weren’t enough of a challenge, hospitals and healthcare systems face significant labor shortages. Some healthcare workers are switching jobs for higher pay and better benefits, while others are choosing to leave the industry completely.
To maintain appropriate staffing levels and continue to provide high-quality patient care, hospitals must look to implement short- and long-term recruiting and retention solutions.
How can providers better understand and address the ongoing staffing shortages? Our monthly news recap explores the strategies that could combat labor shortages and improve staff recruitment, and retention in 2022.
There are several key factors contributing to the current nursing shortage: a lack of nurse educators, limited spots in community colleges, and the Great Resignation. However, there are proven strategies—including increasing diversity, prioritizing workplace culture, and adjusting protocols to meet nurses’ needs— that can increase nurse retention. By executing some or all of these strategies, healthcare leaders can positively change the outlook for the future of nursing.
Experts predict that staffing shortages and increased labor costs will continue to fuel higher expenses and declines in operating cash flow for healthcare systems. According to the American Nurses Association, there will be more than 100,000 registered nursing jobs available annually by next year. Fortunately, there are several factors that may help mitigate the labor shortage in the next year and beyond.
In the midst of labor shortages, hospitals are striving to strike the right balance between maintaining the safety of their staff and their ability to function adequately. With this in mind, the CDC recently reduced its recommended isolation time for healthcare workers exposed to COVID-19 from ten to seven days. Despite pushback from nursing organizations, and mixed evidence as to the period of contagion, systems following these recommendations have been able to ease their shortages somewhat, while monitoring the impact on in-house cases.
In response to the ongoing healthcare labor shortage, several hospitals and health systems have made recent investments in recruitment and retention. Initiatives range from millions of dollars in pay increases, bonuses, and benefit enhancements to investments in education and upskilling programs.