Tech-Based Solutions for Patient-Centric CareBy Miriam Bello | Wed, 03/16/2022 - 08:39
Aging and growing disease rates put pressure on health budgets. Patient-centric care models aim to be the perfect alternative for health systems to offer more tailored solutions to patients with one or multiple diseases. To adopt these, however, health providers need to change their traditional approach.
After the first waves of the pandemic, hospitals, medical devices and pharmaceutical companies realized that they were “largely focused on the immediate crisis,” says Sandra Sánchez-Oldenhage, President of PharmaAdvice Consulting. “The priority was to ensure that the delivery of high-quality patient care kept going and, for pharmaceutical companies, to maintain the supply of critical drugs to prevent potential drug shortages in the future.”
The insufficiency of this approach has been a catalyst for companies to finally commit to a patient-centric commercial model. This can be defined as care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs and values. This approach considers education and support for patients to make decisions and actively participate in their own care.
For patient-centric providers, tools and data play a major role. “Patient-centric practices know the only person around for 100 percent of an individual’s care and appointments is the patient,” according to Mercury Healthcare (MH). The right tools can allow for shared decision making, patient feedback loops and multistage care plans. MH explains that these tools should enable the patient to access and control their own records in an easy manner, while factoring in security and trust concerns. With the proper approach, this can improve patient engagement and drive better care in and outside health facilities. However, this requires technology and a vast amount of digital data from numerous connected sources, such as medical devices or patient data apps.
A combination of cloud, cybersecurity, social media, analytics and mobile technologies is helping providers launch valuable, disruptive products to the market. For patients with diabetes, for example, “devices that connect to computers and smartphones to keep track of blood sugar, sending the information directly to the doctor, allows physicians to offer the most personalized diagnoses and treatments,” says Gabriela Allard, President of the Mexican Association of Diabetes (AMD).
Cloud solutions are playing a major role in facilitating the use of this data. “Data presents the greatest opportunity in the medical and life sciences industry by providing deeper insights and distributing them to the right people so they make better decisions in real time,” says Esteban Lopez, Market Lead for Healthcare and Life Sciences at Google Cloud Americas. Nevertheless, for cloud-based solutions to work at their full potential, they need to adhere to the highest levels of security, compliance and respect for user privacy.
Medical professionals can also benefit from digital solutions as these can support their diagnoses, while helping to identify a variety of indicators that might be impacting the patient’s disease, such as mental health issues, treatment adherence and socio-economic risks. For this analysis, data transfer and interconnection are crucial. “By enabling the storage and computation of massive data sets, healthcare organizations can easily store, integrate and analyze vast amounts of data,” says López. He adds that the Harris Poll shows that 86 percent of clinicians say that greater data interoperability will significantly reduce the time required for diagnosis and help improve patient outcomes by 95 percent.
Patient Centricity in Mexico
In Mexico, CONAMED has listed several health conditions in urgent need of a patient-centric approach, including overweight and obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, breast cancer and cervical-uterine cancer. Nationally, states such as Jalisco have called for a policy that drives patient-centric models at the local level. The National Institute of Cardiology has also launched programs to spread awareness of this model among the doctors at the institute.
Mexico already has a national standard for hospitals to promote patient-centric models and one of the hospitals that has benefited the most from this is Médica Sur. Based on the official government standards, the hospital created its own model based on respect for the values, preferences and needs of the patient; physical comfort and pain management; emotional support; relief from fear and anxiety; involvement of family and friends (if appropriate); continuity; and access to care.
Médica Sur’s actions have lately been reinforced by the complete digitization of its facilities. “This was a huge step for the hospital but our patient-centric mindset made us seek a safe solution that would best cover patients’ needs — needs that evolve with time and that reshape according to society. Bringing the hospital to patients is one of these needs, which is why it was our duty to develop the safest telemedicine offering possible,” says Misael Uribe, president of Médica Sur. Through investment in artificial intelligence, computer systems, databases and communication technology, the hospital has ensured its services are available 24/7 to address any issue.
While standards are already in place, these need to be revised as technology becomes predominant in the sector. In the meantime, Cesar Marrón, Director General of Cardinal Health, recommends prioritizing relationships with customers and patients, adopting a consultative and integral sales approach, investing in new technologies to centralize customer data and strengthening the customer service experience to start a company’s transition to a patient-centric model.