Given how hospitals are operating now, what must be changed urgently?
First of all, we have to be much more data-driven, and we have to be focusing on automation. I would start with reimagining patient flow, one of the biggest challenges in hospitals.
We try to manage hospitals as best as possible, but we lack many opportunities that you might see in other industries and are much more efficient than healthcare. We must strive to capture electronic data from all hospital operations, run sophisticated analytic tools, including those using artificial intelligence, and automate workflows so that the hospital becomes much more efficient while the quality of care and patient safety improve considerably.
In order to streamline workflows, hospitals need a control tower or command center – a central location for process management. It can be virtual and should embed data and analytic tools to improve all clinical, operational, and administrative decision-making. This would lead to substantial cost savings and improve the quality, patient safety, and patient experience.
But the hospital of the future also needs cultural change because the hospital business and the healthcare business are very traditional. It’s not easy to change the behavior of doctors, even if you present an analysis that demonstrates that current workflows must be reimagined. Cultural transformation is a critical milestone healthcare must go through.
And finally, as we all saw during the coronavirus crisis, we have to create a virtual mode of clinical care. In the next few years, healthcare must be hybrid, provided virtually – at home – and in a physical location like a hospital or a clinic.
The future of healthcare will be without an address – medical and care services will be provided everywhere: at home, at work, and in a clinic.
But first, we have to define the line between online and on-site care, right?
Yes. I’m sure chronic care, rehabilitation, and post-acute care will soon be primarily hybrid. Of course, acute care will always be provided on-site, in a clinic, or by mobile teams at patients’ homes. At Sheba, we already have hybrid wards where some of the beds are actually virtual. A patient can be hospitalized at the hospital – if their condition requires it – or at home by our remote care staff through virtual means. This hybrid model is going to spread over the following years.
At Sheba, we already have hybrid wards where some of the beds are actually virtual
Although this vision sounds promising, the shift you described also requires a transformation in healthcare, including the reimbursement system.
The payment system – and healthcare policy – will have to adjust. It’s unavoidable if we want to take the patient’s best interest seriously. And we know that patients prefer to stay home instead of go to the hospital. We can’t ignore it anymore – patient-centricity is about delivering care where and how a patient wants it.
Sheba Medical Center has created the ARC – The Center for Digital Innovation. Is it a means to navigate digital transformation?
With 140 partners from almost 30 different countries, ARC has become an accelerator of change! What started at Sheba has now become a global platform where various stakeholders can share their vision of what the future of health should look like.
Recently, ARC contracted with Deloitte in order to considerably scale up our efforts in implementing the ARC model across healthcare institutions globally. With Deloitte’s consultancy power, global reach, and ARC’s vision and methodologies, we believe ARC will become an agent of global change, ultimately impacting millions.
ARC was built to leverage innovation, prove that it works, and then do large-scale implementation – not just across one hospital like Sheba Medical Center, but as a collaboration among hospitals worldwide. One of the goals is to engage innovative technology companies to build the future command center. We are experimenting and looking for solutions to help us better manage the hospital, using data to turn operations from intuition-based to evidence-based.
It’s about an ecosystem of like-minded organizations aiming to transform healthcare and harness that transformation. It’s not a hobby or something we do because we have nothing else important going on. We simply cannot continue doing healthcare the way we’ve done it for many years. Otherwise, our health systems will be at risk of collapse.
ARC is also an ecosystem of digital health startups. Does Sheba Medical Center implement the solutions developed by innovative companies?
New solutions grow from know-how, collaboration, and passion. ARC is a laboratory of ideas where startups can develop and test their solutions. It’s as simple as this – if the solution works and shows cost-effectiveness benefits, we implement it on a large scale.
Building a capacity to work with startups that work on cutting-edge technologies can be a game-changer for every healthcare facility. This way, you can ensure that the innovations align with local expectations and bottlenecks in healthcare. At Sheba, we develop new solutions nationally but look for inspiration internationally. For example, recently, we started to partner with General Catalyst, a US-based venture capital firm. This partnership will propel us toward proactive, preventative, and cost-effective healthcare. If you want to lead digital transformation, you have to be able to work with innovation from outside. We call it open innovation.
Now we are facing an utterly novel innovation: large language models. Will they also impact healthcare?
LLMs will have a critical impact on healthcare. One of the things we’re going to see is the ability of generative AI to take away many of the repetitive tasks being performed by doctors or nurses today. This kind of change is urgent since we lack healthcare professionals. And this is a global problem.
On the other side, generative AI will provide completely new solutions for patients, enabling them to search and find healthcare-related knowledge, improving the accessibility to care when and where needed. The first applications of gen AI are already being tested in clinical settings, and we are all excited about this new technology.
Imagine it’s 2028. What does the patient journey in the hospital look like?
Most of the journey will not take place in a hospital unless we need an operation or a medical procedure.
But otherwise, we will receive most of the care virtually from our home or day-to-day environment. But even when we will have to go to the hospital, the overall experience will be pretty different because hospitals will manage patient flow more seamlessly. Many processes will be automated and well-planned: patients won’t have to wait in the waiting rooms or walk from one room to another for lab tests. Most vital signs will be gathered on the go and analyzed by AI continuously.
Doctors will be there for patients, not to do paperwork. The visit to a hospital will be just one of the stages of care well-coordinated with the entire patient pathway, including post-procedure monitoring and patient-reported outcomes to continuously adjust the care to what is happening with the patients.
But such a future must be strategically orchestrated – it will not happen by chance.
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