Emerging Trends in Healthcare – Improving the Quadruple Aim through Contactless Biometrics
With the continuing shift to value-based care, healthcare systems are increasingly sharpening their focus on the quadruple aim. Improving clinical outcomes, reducing costs, increasing patient satisfaction, and increasing the caregiver satisfaction, are all top of mind for healthcare leaders. The healthcare systems that discover or implement new ideas, practices, and technologies, will be better positioned to improve the quadruple aim, and survive in the ever-changing healthcare environment.
I have been very fortunate in my career, having the opportunity to work and partner with healthcare leaders across the country, and the global health technology industry. Traveling across borders and observing the amazing work being done in a wide array of healthcare systems reveals emerging trends and shifts. Healthcare is a space that is rapidly evolving, constantly testing new technologies and methodologies, and striving for continuous improvement. Particularly, as hospitals have battled COVID-19 over the past few months, there is an evident need for the ability to flexibly adapt their operations.
Disruptive technologies, such as AI and biometrics, are not only becoming more mainstream in the commercial space but are prepping for a rapid permeation into healthcare. The intelligent application of contactless biometrics, especially, has both immediate and long-term potential to help healthcare systems drive the quadruple aim in a COVID-19 & post-COVID world.
Increasing Caregiver Satisfaction
As higher demands are being placed on caregivers, ensuring caregiver satisfaction is one of the latest focuses of healthcare leaders. Caregiver burnout, retention, and efficiency are all impacted by their experience, and increasing their satisfaction is paramount for world-class care. Emerging contactless biometrics will simplify access to tools for caregivers (i.e. Single Sign-On portals, software, and systems), and improve their ability to monitor, manage, and communicate with patients admitted in the hospital, or being treated remotely. Caregivers will be automatically alerted if a patient in the waiting room needs critical attention, if a remote patient begins deteriorating, or if the family of a pediatric patient needs to be notified with status updates on a complex procedure when they return from the hospital cafeteria. Caregivers also need to feel safe and secure in their environment, as all patient care and operations stems from them. Contactless biometrics can help serve as a guardian angel, watching over caregivers to reinforce physical and emotional security. As these contactless biometrics mature, predictive indications of caregiver burnout or fatigue are soon to follow, through evaluation of facial micro expressions, gait analysis, or response times during procedures.
Increasing Patient Satisfaction
As we continue to observe the consumerization of healthcare, patient experience and satisfaction become increasingly important to healthcare leaders. Contactless biometrics will help these leaders, and their institutions, manage and improve the overall patient experience by controlling patient waiting times, facilitating quick triage, and providing better communication to patients. Contactless biometrics will be able to help determine whether a patient has been waiting too long, where to send them in the event of capacity issues, and even when to notify the patient or their family (via SMS) with critical updates. Sick patients with an increasing temperature can be prioritized and treated quicker to ease discomfort and decrease the likelihood of further deterioration, and caregivers will know the location of a patient or their waiting family in order to better time face-to-face updates or discussions.
Contactless biometrics, alone and in combination with RFID, also opens the door for a revolution in reducing costs through inventory control. Imagine being able to identify what equipment or consumables are being used by which employee or caregiver for which procedure or application. Are materials being used excessively? Are there consumables that are repeatedly being unused or expiring in an operating room core? Are inventories running low enough that an automated order should be generated for additional supply? Can we automatic patient and staff temperature screening to mitigate creeping costs in scenarios such as COVID-19? The ability to identify people, equipment, movement, and physiologics is primed to deliver cost savings to healthcare providers. Further applications of contactless biometrics to reduce costs include streamlining hospital payroll, badging, security, and vendor credentialing, through contactless clocking & physical access. Additionally, utility management and the ability to intelligently automate consumption of electricity, lighting, heating, and cooling in low-traffic areas is further poised to reduce total operational costs for healthcare systems.
Improving Clinical Outcomes
Contactless biometrics will have a significant impact on improving clinical outcomes as the technology is deployed and matured. Potential immediate applications include using contactless biometrics to streamline patient triage and identify hospital needs for patient capacity shifting, providing contact or patient tracing to reduce hospital-acquired infections, and feeding real time operational data to providers to observe and manage clinical operations (i.e. measuring actual door-to-balloon times for catheterization procedures). Other applications of contactless biometrics that warrant evaluation by health systems include identifying early onset of illness or predictive indicators of deterioration, such as elevated temperature detection for patients & employees, and decreasing time to treatment by correctly identifying patients, and automatically admitting, discharging, or transferring patients throughout their hospital stay.
In sum, emerging technologies will continue to change how players such as health systems, caregivers, payors, and patients interact with the healthcare market. Certain technologies, such as contactless biometrics, have both immediate and long-term potential to impact the quadruple aim, and provide measurable benefits to these players.