Deloitte has taken a big step to integrate Apple technologies across its global ConvergeHEALTH Patient Connect solution. I spoke with the company's general manager, Brett Davis, and its life sciences global digital and patient engagement leader, Chris Zant, to understand the significance of its plans.
The age of digital therapeutics
“We see so much opportunity to help patients with digital platforms like Patient Connect connected to disease specific apps,” explained Davis.
Deloitte believes the combination of platforms, consumer-focused apps and health platforms will improve quality of life and health outcomes.
“We are building our practice to not just be ready for the age of 'digital therapeutics,' but to actively make that day a reality soon,” Davis said.
Digital health evangelists have long said that putting the patient at the center of their treatment and empowering them with appropriate solutions will improve health, but there have been challenges.
“The unfortunate reality from a data and information perspective is that [it] just isn’t the case. Life science organizations now have the ability to engage directly with stakeholders to create targeted therapies with services to treat the whole patient, ultimately increasing patient health outcomes,” Davis explained.
‘Transformational’ benefits to healthcare
New digital health technologies are informing stakeholders across the healthcare value chain.
Solutions such as Apple Health Records are part of this.
“Patients are taking control of their data, connecting with other patients and their providers through digital platforms and are now actively involved in their treatment decisions,” Davis said. “The benefits to the patient and the broader healthcare system are tremendous and potentially transformational."
He added: “For the patient, the combination of the health app, combined with the services provided by ConvergeHEALTH Patient Connect, can help with things like better medication adherence, the collection of biometric and patient self-reported data outside of a clinical setting (to help clinicians make better decisions with their patients), and improved patient engagement in their health and disease. The solution also helps to drive better care team coordination.”
The need for interoperable standards
While the situation has improved in the recent past, one of the challenges to unlocking the potential of digital healthcare has been the lack of interoperability between Electronic Health Records systems and a lack of common frameworks and standards.
These silos have hampered health innovation.
“We have joked in the industry for some time that the ‘great thing about healthcare IT standards is there are so many to choose from,’” Zant said.
This is changing, and that is due in part to Apple.
“Many of the major electronic health vendors and Apple have agreed to adopt a single standard that is now, for the first time, truly empowering the patient with their electronic health data,” he said.
Deloitte recently found that 90 percent of pharmaceutical companies are investing in Real World Evidence systems.
These systems gather data from real patients in real situations – precisely what Apple's bundle of health-related apps can provide.
“While lack of standards and incompatible EHR systems were a major obstacle in the past, we believe we are at the tipping point. New standards, new players and richer patient centric capabilities will change the game in patient centric care,” Davis said.
This move to adopt a shared standard, as well as Apple technologies (including HealthKit, CareKit and ResearchKit), are enabling a profound change in the types of data that are being created and the way in which this can be used, Zant said.
All this data is providing medical researchers with a body of evidential-based tools that should help identify new treatment plans and unlock in-depth analysis across the life sciences industry.
“This includes not just traditional electronic medical information, but also data being generated and collected by an exploding ecosystem of biometric devices as well as apps in which patients can self-report incredibly valuable information for care, and future insights for research,” Zant said.
There are also powerful implications in healthcare.
“We now can create platforms and applications around the patient to support them, not just in a traditional clinical setting, but increasingly by integrating into their daily lives and at home,” Zant said.
What will be normal tomorrow
“We think we will look back in 10 years when it is commonplace to have digitally connected support ecosystems of caregivers, devices and apps around a patient and recognize this moment (the adoption of a single standard for healthcare data) as the inflection point where all of it started. This holds the promise to really move the needle on more efficient access as well as personalization for patients,” Zant said.
Behind all of this is the move to embrace standards across health records.
Davis said: “Apple has definitely been pushing the industry to move toward a single standard.”
Now that inflection point has been reached, the two Deloitte health leaders seem to think we should anticipate innovation across the healthcare industry as the promise of personalized patient health and access to care through digital technology finally becomes realized.
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