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Healthcare
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7 MIN READ
Liat Kozuch
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Bullish or Bearish: Health IT Leaders Weigh In On Top Tech Trends

Throughout the past year, we interviewed some of the leading minds in digital health on our podcast Patient Journey Pioneers (catch all episodes here or on your favorite listening platform). 

To kick off season one of the podcast, we invited Novant's Angela Yochem, Seattle Children's Dr. Zafar Chaudry, Intermountain Healthcare's Craig Richardville, as well as many other marquee names in the field to serve as our inaugural cadre of "Pioneers".

We've asked each of them to dispense their unfiltered take on the biggest tech trends of the day and deliver their verdict on the current and future impact and value of these innovations to the industry: Bullish (optimistic). Or Bearish (pessimistic).

By aggregating their responses, we've produced what is, quite possibly, the most transparent and forward-looking overview of these emerging technologies from the mouths of those who will ultimately decide whether or not they will ever truly take hold.

Let's dive in.

Bullish Or Bearish?

Telehealth: Bullish

The adoption of telehealth skyrocketed with the onset of Covid-19 in the US and continued to soar throughout 2021. Now, as the curve has truly been flattened, the question remains: will telehealth retain its critical role in providing remote access to care? 

According to most of our Pioneers, the answer to that question is yes, but with two caveats: 

  1. In a post-pandemic world where patients get to decide again on the type of care they wish to receive, telehealth can no longer be a standalone offering as it was only two years ago when there were no other available alternatives. To sustain its viability, it must be fully integrated into the health system's broader care strategy and serve as one leg of a more holistic patient journey. 
  2. Telehealth reimbursement models must be clearly defined and financially rewarding or attractive for physicians to remain incentivized to offer this crucial path to care.

Why Edward Marx, CEO of Divurgent and previous CIO of Cleveland Clinic is bullish on telehealth:

Augmented Reality (AR): Bearish

Although all of our guests could see the potential for Augmented Reality (AR) in healthcare, most are of one mind that the tech just isn't there yet, and might not be for at least another five years. To put it more bluntly, in the words of Patient Journey Pioneer and VP of Digital Health at Baylor Scott & White Health, Tom Bowen Wright: “I think there's more hype than anything else.” 

Edward Marx, CEO of Divurgent and previous CIO of Cleveland Clinic, adds, “Bullish eventually. It’s going to take a while. I’ve done some [very successful] things, in early stages - but I’ve love what I’ve seen. Lots of organizations are doing experiments like what we did, [such as] kids getting their cancer treatments while walking around an [AR] zoo! [We’ve also done] some patient reconstructional surgery where AR was really important to [ensure] a good outcome. So we’re gonna see more of it, but I think it's going to take a while longer.”

Why Tom Bowen Wright, VP of Digital Health at Baylor Scott & White Health is bearish on Augmented Reality (AR):

Remote Patient Monitoring: Bullish

Our Pioneers were unanimously bullish about remote patient monitoring and its positive impact on patient satisfaction. HonorHealth's Chief Transformation Officer, Dr. James Whitfill, believes that the right payment models need to be put in place for this tech to fully take off, but like the rest of our guests, thinks it has real potential to keep patients out of hospitals at scale. 

Why Craig Richardville, Chief Information & Digital Officer at Intermountain Healthcare is bullish on remote patient monitoring:

Wearables: Inconclusive 

Our Patient Journey Pioneers were split on the actual value of wearables. On one side of the argument stand wearables optimists like UPMC’s Chief Medical Information Officer Robert Bart, who believes that “the opportunity in the wearable space will skyrocket.” On the other, wearables pessimist and Divurgent’s CEO Edward Marx thinks that clinicians don’t want to waste their time sifting through the heavy amounts of raw data that flows through these devices.

What Robert Bart, Chief Medical Information Officer, Health Services Division at UPMC thinks about wearables:

Conversational AI: Bullish 

Our Patient Journey Pioneers were all extremely optimistic about the role of conversational AI in healthcare, with Divurgent’s Edward Marx emphasizing that this technology is key to the future of digital care, especially due to patients becoming more digital-savvy than ever. Several guests shared their excitement around voice AI and stated that once perfected, this subset of conversational AI could have innumerable applications in both remote and on-premise care.

Why Tom Bowen Wright, VP Digital Health at Baylor Scott & White Health is bullish on conversational AI:

Bonus Round: Our Pioneers’ Tech Wishlists

We asked our Pioneers what health tech they would want to see developed and implemented first thing tomorrow morning if they had an unlimited budget and no red tape involved. Here’s a peek into their wishlists:

Dr. Zafar Chaudry, Senior Vice President, Chief Digital Officer & Chief Information Officer at Seattle Children’s Hospital, wants medical equipment and devices that actually impact patient outcomes:

Jared Johnson, Consumer Transformation Champion and Podcast Producer at Shift Forward Health, wants to see a class of tools and technologies that engage patients between their visits in a meaningful way:

Taylor Hamilton, Senior Vice President and Chief Consumer Officer of Ballad Health, would spend every cent on making access to healthcare easier and more accessible than ever.

More Where That Came From

There are so many more takeaways to devour if you enjoyed these. Grab your headphones and join our Patient Journey Pioneers as they discuss emerging technologies, digital acceleration, and innovative strategies that are pushing the patient journey to new heights. Check out all episodes here or on your favorite listening platform.

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Liat Kozuch
January 11, 2023
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