Collaborative, intuitive, predictive: the future of healthcare technology

Dr. Sarah Matt, Vice President, Healthcare Markets, Oracle Health | January 19, 2023

Back in November, I had the pleasure of joining Oracle Health Chairman David Feinberg, MD, in an engaging discussion during Becker's 10th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable. In our session hosted by Brian Zimmerman at Becker’s Healthcare, we explored key themes related to the evolution of the healthcare IT industry and the future of technology in healthcare. As we look ahead to a new year, it’s pivotal that we address, improve upon, and execute the below themes we discussed during our roundtable session.

EHRs must foster collaboration, not siloed data sources

As physicians, we’ve both leveraged electronic health records (EHRs) in our careers. David made a great point during our roundtable: It’s easy to overlook the importance of the EHR. By digitizing the medical record, patient charts are no longer left at home or locked in a doctor’s office, and we’ve solved handwriting issues. EHRs have revolutionized care delivery and health information- sharing. This provides patients visibility into their health like never before and gives clinicians unprecedented insights into patient care.

Though a transformational technology, the EHR nevertheless often provides a cumbersome user experience and results in the administrative burden that plagues many providers and administrative staff. The EHR experience isn’t necessarily an intuitive or user-friendly one, but that’s simply because it was never designed with the end user in mind.

Rather than aligning focus on producing better care, for years the priority of EHRs was to add more functionality into the digitized record. Over time, EHRs have resulted in silos—disparate data collection systems that limit interoperability and increase administrative workloads. In fact, research shows doctors spend nearly twice as much time on administrative work as they do engaging with patients.

This must change if we hope to improve health for all involved. These staggering numbers only serve to highlight the critical need to prioritize EHR usability. In doing so, we can better enable patient-focused care, streamline workflows, reduce clicks, and enhance the provider, administrator, and patient experiences. When EHRs are easier to navigate, it’s easier to run an efficient health system and share this digitized data with patients to empower informed decision-making. 

Within healthcare, there are countless systems that capture and process valuable health-related data. In addition to the EHR, we can include human capital management (HCM), inventory management, enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain management (SCM), and financial, among others.

This data is siloed, and it’s problematic. Because although we may have great reporting for just our health system’s clinical data, or for just our health system’s financial data, as we look toward the future of healthcare, it’s essential that we aggregate this information—clinical, financial, operational, and so on—for better insights. In this future state, siloed, disparate data sources will no longer be good enough.

It’s time for intuitive, predictive technology

Hospitals and health systems are under extreme financial pressure, face an ongoing workforce crisis, and—as previously stated—are tasked with reducing clinician burnout. More intuitive and predictive healthcare technology can solve for these problems through AI, machine learning, and business process automation.

For example, hospitals may review the previous year’s flu season records to make predictions regarding when this year’s peak will occur and how many staff should be on a shift. But what if we could do better? Can we build on these algorithms, and can they be automated, to more easily understand how many nurses will be needed on the floor today versus tomorrow, and tomorrow versus next week?

Advanced technologies can help staff better understand supplies and staffing resources, leverage voice recognition software, and streamline reporting and analytics to automate administrative work and enable providers to make better predictive decisions. To evolve as we look toward the future of healthcare, we must consider how we can make existing historical data work today, and how we can leverage new data generated every day and make it work tomorrow.

There’s immense opportunity to learn from other industries, including finance, retail, and manufacturing. Like healthcare, these consumer industries are incredibly complex as they also use unstructured data. But unlike healthcare, these industries discovered and implemented consumer-centric tools and strategies 10 to 20 years ago that have greatly improved the consumer experience. Your patient portal likely isn’t as intuitive as your banking app, and it’s probably not as seamless as consumer websites that understand customers’ preferences before they even begin shopping.

Consumer-grade experiences are now expected, but healthcare is lagging. We can do better. Now is the time to identify ways to capitalize on these learnings to make things better for providers, patients, and employees.

Evolution of an industry’s technologies

Healthcare has no shortage of data, but how are we utilizing this information? At Oracle Health, we’re building a cloud-based health platform that brings together disparate data sources from across the ecosystem—EHR, SCM, HCM, claims processing, clinical trials software, and so on. The operating system will provide intelligent information without multiple interfaces that disrupt the flow of data. We’ll leverage predictive analytics and algorithms to identify real-time trends and evolve the healthcare experience—ensuring usability is a primary focus to provide a seamless, human-centered experience for providers, administrators, and patients. Lastly, we’ll address issues within deep platform and infrastructure layers so we can decrease the cost of ownership while providing reliability, security, and performance.

As David said during our session, we’re now much more than an EHR company; we’re an open, intelligent, interoperable platform that connects data across disparate systems to provide a holistic experience for patients and their caregivers. That’s our vision, and we’re prepared to execute.