The Future Of Artificial Intelligence & Analytics In Healthcare

August 15, 2018

As a company invested in the future of work, but also committed to healthcare, we pose this question: What does the future of healthcare look like?  This question likely has many divergent, interesting and potentially controversial answers, especially depending upon who is asked. Konica Minolta, through close collaboration with our Business Innovation Center’s Healthcare Advisory Council, has attempted to answer this question by introducing our Value Based Care Platform  to deliver better care at lower costs.  These two objectives are closely aligned with Triple Aim of Care: enhancing the individual experience of care, improving the health of populations and reducing the per capita cost of care.  This initiative, begun by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)1, was driven by our exploding healthcare cost and eroding quality.  So, before we illustrate the exciting advances in technology, and how it’s helping to meet the IHI’s critical objectives, let’s take a moment to reflect on the many changes that are occurring right now that are driving this new landscape of healthcare. 

Healthcare’s Influence on the US Economy

Let’s start with the sheer size and quality of our healthcare system. Today the United Stated spends nearly 18% of our Gross Domestic Product on healthcare, which translates into over $3.2 trillion dollars (that’s as much as Germany’s entire economy!) according to a report in The Commonwealth Fund2.

On a per capita basis, we are spending $8,700 annually (per person) on healthcare, and the burden of those costs is beginning to shift progressively to the individual.  All the while, our delivery of medical treatments and disease outcomes lag behind many other developed nations3.  The explosion of chronic illnesses, including Diabetes Type II, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and hypertension (high blood pressure) also loom large, and are quickly becoming the leading cause of death in the US.  So we’re spending more and getting less2.

Who Pays?

Further, the method by which hospitals and physicians are paid for their services from Medicare and commercial health insurance payers is moving from a fee for service model driven by volume of services delivered, to a method of payment where reimbursement of those services is more heavily weighted toward quality of care rather than quantity. This is turning the industry on its side, and requiring health care practitioners to track outcomes and cost. And there’s only one way to do this – data, technology and innovation.

All of this comes on the heels of a healthcare system that has been implementing electronic health records (EHR) over the past 8 years, but still remains too dependent upon paper, manual processes and legacy IT systems.  So that’s the bad news.  The good news is that things are beginning to evolve, and the future looks very different.

Enter Artificial Intelligence

Technology adoption, the cloud, mobile are all ubiquitous in our society, and across most industries.  And while the healthcare industry has been resistant to travel down this path historically, the journey has finally begun – nudged forward reluctantly by the changing reimbursement policies – but also by the motivation to deliver a higher degree of patient care.  Technology advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are beginning to have a significant impact on our lives, and healthcare is no exception.

AI is being applied to a vast amount of data now available given the adoption of EHR, and incredible outcomes are emerging.  The healthcare system is now beginning to rationalize processes and attempt to reduce the cost of care and improve quality. Newer technologies, including data analytics, AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) will play a critical role in the extraction of contextual and meaningful insights from otherwise voluminous and complex data residing in static, unstructured documents.

With advanced analytics capabilities, we can quickly group all patients suffering from congestive heart failure, Diabetes Type 2 and COPD, for example, to better determine their course of treatment thus far, identify gaps in that care, as well as social determinants that may be contributing to a lack of adherence to their present course of treatment (i.e. lack of transportation making it difficult to make follow up appointments.) From this data, we can develop a care protocol, in line with best practices, that will most effectively manage these conditions.  All of this data can be consolidated and presented to the clinician at the point of care, or distributed to a care team responsible for reaching out and engaging patients after discharge.

Patients can now leverage the cloud to communicate critical health and wellness metrics back to their healthcare provider using any number of wearable, portable devices, including Fitbits, apps on their iPhone or Android, as well as other medical and remote monitoring devices.  And finally, patients and their care providers can now more readily connect virtually through telehealth technology from their computer, iPad or phone for virtual exams.

As patients take on a higher burden of the cost of their care, and demand quicker and easier access to their healthcare provider, the tools are now available for the healthcare industry to respond, and finally join the Future of Healthcare. Konica Minolta is excited to be a part of this revolution and assisting our customers in their journey toward a more digital, connected and better brand of care delivery. Be on the lookout for news detailing the Konica Minolta Value Based Care Platform, the technology behind it, and the partnerships that power the solution that will help our customers navigate this new digital age of care.

1Institute for Healthcare Improvement

2The Commonwealth Fund

3US Spending on Healthcare – LA Times

Joe Cisna, MBA, MHA
Director, Healthcare Solutions

Joe Cisna manages the healthcare strategy for Konica Minolta Business Solutions and has more than 18 years of healthcare provider and payer sales and marketing experience in electronic health records and medical cost containment services. He is responsible for supporting the Direct and Dealer Sales Channels with marketing, training and sales enablement tools and initiatives to drive healthcare solutions for our customers. Joe holds an MBA and a Masters’ in Healthcare Administration and is a Certified HIPAA Professional (CHP). He loves to run and play guitar, but not at the same time.