Hospital of the Future & the Race for the Patient Footwall
Budgetary constraints and staffing challenges are compelling healthcare organizations to rethink their operational strategies to find new ways for burned-out care teams to work smarter, not harder.
One strategy that providers are employing to drive efficiency, standardize processes, and elevate the standard of care in inpatient settings is the adoption of hybrid care models. These care models introduce remote clinicians and digital health tools at the bedside. Leading health systems such as Houston Methodist, OhioHealth, and UMass Memorial Health are among those planting the first “smart hospital” and “hospital of the future” flags, introducing high-end technologies in every patient room.
As healthcare organizations bring telehealth, artificial intelligence (AI), interactive patient consoles (IPCs), and other health IT resources to the hospital bedside, the race for a space on the patient footwall is heating up. And hospitals looking to differentiate themselves and improve operations through the adoption of innovative technologies are rightfully being more discerning in their product evaluations.
Increasingly, providers are favoring a platform approach to underpinning infrastructure in an effort to keep solution sprawl and fragmentation at bay. Recent research from the Health Management Academy reveals that 62% of leading health systems want their tech capabilities (across categories) to be met by a single vendor.
Signify Research similarly observed a shift in provider preferences towards solutions that cater to broader use cases. “Historically, endpoint solutions have been departmental, siloed, point-focused products (hardware-centric), however, enterprise-scale solutions with a focus on platform-centric and configurable workflows have become increasingly prominent.” Continuous monitoring solutions are cited as a prime example of this shift from point solutions to comprehensive platforms that not only centralize but also simplify resource administration and management.
The ability of bedside technology to integrate seamlessly with existing hospital systems, especially the Electronic Health Record (EHR), is crucial for securing a coveted spot on the patient footwall. A platform’s ability to seamlessly integrate with a broad spectrum of peripheral systems further supports consolidated solutioning, allowing care teams to pilot adjacent technologies more easily.
Case in point: In the realm of virtual care, new telehealth edge devices like Caregility’s APS200 Duo enable healthcare organizations to introduce AI capabilities using the same device that supports audio and video feeds used for virtual patient engagement and observation. The device’s ability to integrate with IPCs and smart TVs in the patient room allows care teams to leverage existing technology investments during implementation.
As healthcare institutions continue to integrate advanced technologies into care delivery, the importance of unified, platform-based solutions becomes ever more apparent. This strategic approach not only simplifies infrastructure but also significantly boosts care teams’ ability to deliver personalized, efficient, and high-quality care at scale.
Interested in learning more about how hospitals are leveraging enterprise telehealth and IPC platform integrations to support forward-thinking care initiatives? Join clinical experts from OhioHealth, Vibe Health, and Caregility for the webinar “Clinical Workflow Optimization: The Role of Virtual Nursing” taking place on Thurs., Feb. 8, from 2-3 pm EST.
Hybrid Care in the Age of Retail Health
Amazon Clinics and other direct-to-consumer (DTC) healthcare market entrants are “disintermediating the traditional healthcare journey,” as Trilliant Health researcher Sanjula Jain, Ph.D., recently put it. As retail health options flood the field, patients are increasingly by-stepping PCPs in favor of DTC telehealth solutions to address their low-acuity healthcare needs.
For those who can take advantage of DTC telehealth services, there is a clear convenience win. However, some argue that this disruption to the status quo is introducing additional fragmentation that can negatively impact patient care and provider operations.
Implications for Patients: One major question arising from the surge in retail care relates to the handling of patient data exchange. If a patient receives treatment from a retail health provider, how will that care episode be integrated into their primary health record?
Implications for Providers: For traditional healthcare providers, the rise of DTC healthcare models can result in a loss of critical patient insight or potential patient drift to other care delivery sources, eroding health system market share and revenue.
As we watch the debate over whether patients should also be regarded as consumers play out in a literal sense, here’s the reality: We are all patients seeking effective care and consumers demanding modern convenience and responsiveness. The ideal health system is one that delivers on both.
How Providers Can Compete
Competing in a modern healthcare market disrupted by retail health will require some degree of assimilation on behalf of healthcare provider organizations (HPOs). By establishing hybrid models of care that include virtual service offerings, providers can give patients the same easy access to low-acuity care as DTC alternatives, keeping patients within the health system.
Beyond creating clear and convenient pathways to non-urgent care, strategically wielding virtual care across the enterprise poses additional competitive benefits for health systems. When used at the bedside, inpatient virtual engagement tools introduce remote clinical support resources to patients and floor teams, improving patient experience and outcomes in mid-to-high acuity care encounters, as well. Integrated virtual care empowers HPOs to offset staffing challenges while keeping pace with other industries in terms of delivering the convenience and digital access consumers have come to expect.
With an aging patient population and chronic conditions on the rise, these tools will become even more essential to health systems’ survival. Looking ahead, HPOs can anticipate similar outside competition from retail health as Aging-in-Place and Hospital-at-Home programs continue to move the point of care beyond traditional brick-and-mortar institutions. Establishing the virtual care infrastructure now will help providers meet emerging demand by enabling remote monitoring and management of chronic conditions. Here, provider organizations that have the historic relationship and longitudinal patient data to support a more personalized care plan may garner an edge.
A Catalyst for Care Model Transformation
By embracing hybrid care, healthcare organizations can provide more convenient, personalized, and efficient care, which is crucial for competing against retail health competitors and meeting the evolving needs of the patient population.
Perhaps one of the reasons healthcare has historically lagged other industries in terms of innovation has been due to the absence of significant external threats. Whether this is true or not, it’s clear that healthcare as an industry is at an inflection point.
In a world rapidly moving towards direct-to-consumer health models, healthcare organizations can’t remain passive observers. To compete effectively, we must pivot, innovate, and integrate. By embracing hybrid care models, healthcare organizations can honor both the patient and consumer aspects of individuals and secure their place in the future landscape. The era of retail healthcare isn’t a threat; it’s an opportunity to evolve and provide better, more connected care everywhere.