Posted on 10/08/2017 by David Burgess
Thomas Zenty suggests those once-futuristic technologies are now closer than many realize. And it’s only a matter of time before Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri come to a hospital near you.
CHICAGO -- As hospitals and health systems leverage information technology, healthcare executives must advocate for caregivers to improve provider satisfaction, be prepared for a telehealth explosion, embrace machine learning and artificial intelligence, incorporate the Internet of Things, and prepare for more cyber-attacks, said Thomas Zenty, CEO of University Hospitals of Cleveland.
Zenty delivered today’s keynote address at Allscripts Client Experience, the EHR vendor’s user conference here.
The wellness of providers, the degree to which they are satisfied with their jobs, is key to operating a hospital or health system.
“Physician satisfaction is at an all-time low,” Zenty said. “The things we now have to do with our EHRs. We have to do more work at home than ever before. The promises of efficiencies and effectiveness and time savings are not being realized. So we have to advocate for our caregivers. Do everything we can for those physicians and other caregivers.”
Collection, aggregation and interpretation of data is critically important, Zenty added. But provider wellness cannot be overlooked. “We can’t just assume because we have an EHR it’s going to be automatically adopted,” he said.
Telemedicine is an area of health IT that has been around for quite some time, and is starting to see a growth spurt. More providers are embracing the technology and more insurers are paying for telehealth services.
“Tele-, virtual-, digital health, are things critically important to the work we are doing,” Zenty said. “History will prove me right on that. And policy follows money. Once we begin to get paid for telehealth, tele-psychiatry, tele-stroke, we will see an explosion in this part of information technology.”
Machine learning and artificial intelligence are other technologies that are sparking interest in healthcare. They enable computers to handle greater amounts of work than human beings can undertake and will become increasingly important in the era of consumerization.
“We’re in the early stage of a big wave,” he said. “How do we answer phones, how do we engage people through digital means with ML and AI will be so critical to the work we do. We know through best performances what people will need to be doing to serve patients, and the more accurate we can be with AI will be important.”
Zenty added that it’s only a matter of time before voice technologies like Siri and Alexa will play a role in hospitals.
The Internet of Things is another area healthcare executives must prepare for. Zenty said in 2015 there were 15 billion installed things on the IoT, and that in the next five years the number of devices on the IoT will grow to 51 billion.
“When we think about the number of things, this will be critically important to the work we do,” he said. “It’s far more than just remote monitoring. We can expect this will be a major growth area.”
And with the IoT comes more cybersecurity issues. The threat level is high already. Imagine what will happen with 51 billion connected devices.
“We all have read about ransomware, we read about it all the time, that is only going to increase,” Zenty said. “Think about ransomware in the context of the Internet of Things. If we have 51 billion things, people will be able to access our systems. We are going to be a bigger target than ever before.”