Technology Record - Issue 27: Winter 2022

152 V I EWPO I NT Healthcare has come a long way in recent years, and we must continue embracing technology to create better and more inclusive experiences for all S A L LY F RANK AND T I M GRAY : M I C ROSOF T Innovation in a post-pandemic world While many lament the rough days of the Covid19 pandemic, there were some notable achievements that bode well for innovation in healthcare. Tom Lawry, US national director of artificial intelligence for health and life sciences at Microsoft, cites a few examples of this innovation in his 2022 book titled Hacking Healthcare. For example, the Covid-19 Open Research Dataset fused together 47,000 scholarly articles and studies in a matter of weeks to provide a unified body of knowledge. Telehealth technologies also helped to reduce patient surges, opened access to care, conserved personal protective equipment and reduced disease transmission, growing by 38 times at its peak, according to a McKinsey & Company study. In addition, ‘hospital at home’ scenarios were tested by several health systems for the first time. Despite these lessons, and multiple others that were learned during the pandemic, there are still many economic issues facing providers today. Consultancy firm Kaufman Hall noted in its 2022 National Hospital Flash Report that US hospitals are facing some of the worst margins since the pandemic started. Simultaneously, labour costs are increasing due to a labour shortage, while outpatient procedures, which often generate significant revenue, have also dropped precipitously. Adding to the complexity is the consumerisation of healthcare, underscored by the different patient experiences that each generation expects. Younger, healthier members of Generation Z often have no primary care physician, opting to use retail outlets and urgent care centres for typical, non-fatal situations. On the other end of the spectrum is the World War II generation whose members are eager to have a meaningful relationship with their primary care physician, due to their cultural perspective and more chronic healthcare needs. And then there are the retail health clinic providers entering the market, like CVS, Walgreens, Kroger, and Best Buy in the USA. With all these pressures on our healthcare providers, what is the right course of action when bringing innovation to healthcare delivery? From what we’ve been reading and what my customers are telling me, leading providers are innovating first in areas that automate staff-intensive, nonclinical workflows. Minimising repetitive administrative tasks reduces burnout, frees up staff for more patient-centric work, and improves both patient and staff satisfaction. For example, Baptist Health in Northeast Florida “ Leading providers are innovating first in areas that automate staff-intensive, non-clinical workflows”