In a newly published report, KPMG outlines its vision of a digitally transformed and truly connected health system allowing patients to experience a seamless healthcare journey connected across channels and care settings, delivered by empowered healthcare workers in more efficient healthcare organizations.
That vision, says KPMG, is closer than we think.
Digital and Systemic Transformation
According to KPMG, the pandemic has changed what patients expect from their health systems, almost overnight. With the pandemic has come a proliferation of new technology solutions and virtual healthcare services that patients, even in Canada’s public healthcare system, have come to expect.
In Alberta, for example, the health ministry worked with a telecommunications company to roll out online personal health records integrating primary and secondary care, empowering patient editing rights and featuring secure messaging functionality. In the US telemedicine visits increased by 50 percent in the first month of the pandemic and virtual visits are predicted to top 200 million in 2020. Globally, health systems have leveraged digital technologies to deliver care through new channels and support the monitoring and contact tracing of disease.
The pandemic has also highlighted the need for more integrated systems, spanning all levels, in order to deliver stronger, patient-centered care, and the need for innovative and agile workplaces that will empower their workforces.
While COVID-19 has highlighted extreme workforce shortages globally, it has also accelerated change within healthcare workforce systems, with widespread reforms to practice legislation, professional regulation, remote working and work flexibility.
Furthermore, since the onset of the pandemic, common conceptions of healthcare workers seem to be on the rise, with greater appreciation placed on the importance of healthcare wellbeing. This progress means that future developments to the healthcare workforce must be coordinated in such a way to deliver an empowered workforce, says the report. Hand in hand with new human capital developments must be enterprise wide innovation enabled by the application of emerging technologies that support the transformation of middle and back office functions.
Finally, to function effectively and create sustained value, healthcare leaders must leverage and connect increasing volumes of data to inform their decisions, in near-real time. The critical importance of data, says the report, may be the most important change to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, in both responding to the pandemic and in looking forward to the future.
Health Systems Must be Re-Designed to Deliver Patient-Focused Care
In a 2019 Forrester survey, KPMG International (KPMGI) asked four hundred health leaders to outline what they felt were the most important changes coming to healthcare and how they were preparing for these changes.
The survey found most respondents listed patient centricity as a high priority, but that barriers and gaps in health system capabilities limited patient centricity, with only ten percent of respondents truly believing that they consistently exceeded patient expectations.
COVID-19 has placed a spotlight on the high levels of fragmentation and poor coordination preventing patient-focused care in many health systems. According to KPMG, the pandemic has demonstrated the need for more integrated care systems spanning primary, secondary, acute, and community settings, as well as middle and back- office functions, particularly as they relate to supply- chains, workforce and finance.
New, patient-focused and technology-enabled service models have also emerged in a variety of care settings as a result of COVID-19, with virtual access to primary and secondary care and app-based self-assessments for COVID-19 just two examples of the innovations driving change toward a better patient experience. In countries such as Canada, Australia, the UK, US, Italy, China, and Singapore, among many others, new care models have been designed and implemented quickly, in some cases with field hospitals of unprecedented scale with full-scale EMRs developed in a few short weeks.
Today and the Future
In order to make sense of all the technological innovations available to them, and to properly assess and evaluate the opportunities that emerging technologies can bring, healthcare leaders must apply structured, outcome-led considerations of how technology can support their health system strategies.
By ensuring they have the right technology architectures, supported by digitally enabled operating models that leverage new innovations in clinical care and health system practice, health leaders will deliver higher quality care to patients now, and long into the future.