Digital transformation is no longer a revolutionary or hypothetical prospect in healthcare; it's a mandate. But with advances in AI around both clinical R&D and care delivery, the potential for bias and inequity is also all too prevalent. The next major role in healthcare will need to focus on the voice and agency of the patient — perhaps a role of chief health equity officer or chief patient officer will emerge to capture the importance of this trend.
As a future grounded in value-based care becomes more and more inevitable, providers and payers will need to re-orient around health equity and ethics and offer the patient a critical seat at the table.
Hospitals and health systems are experiencing more patients, fewer open beds and workflow chokepoints — an issue made worse by the pandemic. Command centers have proven to help. Commonplace in industries such as military, space and aviation, but somewhat new to the health care industry, command centers feature real-time decision support tools enabled by AI and analytics and interpreted by a clinical expediter (CE), a new position that merges clinical and data expertise. As interest in command centers continues to rise, so will the need for hospitals to hire CEs.
The CE plays a key role inside a hospital command center to support real-time health care, monitoring the insights created by command centers and then instructing the other care teams how to respond based on the data. It's an interesting role that's a blend of an experienced clinician and someone who can interpret data and insights to respond accordingly, streamline operations, reduce bottlenecks, get patients in and out of the ER or OR faster, coordinate early discharges so beds are freed up faster, reduce wait time for imaging and more.
Currently, there are about 20 CEs supporting 300-plus hospitals in the U.S. However, with the rise of command centers across the country, GE foresees the position of CE growing in demand. And, once all of the U.S. hospitals adopt command centers, that number could increase to 5,000.
A unique role, the CE is a wonderful combination of AI and people which is key considering that any health system that wants to succeed in the future of health care must merge clinical data science and medicine.
It took over a decade to define the product leader role in many of the first technology companies. Over time, that role was instrumental in delivering the best consumer products versus just "building tech." Health care companies would do well to start looking at product management as a core function in their organizations.
By doing so, health care organizations will be able to move away from "business defining technology" and instead move towards building seamless products that deliver business value. I would expect to see more heads of product and CPO roles, similar to those of the most innovative non-health care companies, that take a global view of technology and services in order to start breaking down the unnecessary boundaries within the health care experience today.
Over the last decade, we've seen health care data grow exponentially — and the technologists in health care have predominantly focused on managing and securing that data. Teams within health organizations have deployed EHR systems, CRM systems and more — and now data is moving to the cloud. The big digital transformation projects are completed or well underway for many. Health systems are operationally more effective thanks to technology.
The next decade will be defined by finding clinical insights from the data. The role of clinical informaticist, which has expertise at the intersection of data and life sciences, will come to the front and center. Clinical informaticists will help apply the data for clinical analysis, leading to advancements in diagnosing rare diseases, designing care pathways, comparing effectiveness and safety of different therapies and studying adherence to medications. These advancements will lead to saving lives with data, which is our vision for Truveta.
EVP, Chief Transformation and Digital Officer at Novant Health
Digital sits at the intersection of deep tech and design, data and economics, commerce and society. And since it's nearly impossible to separate digital advance from the evolution of health care, it's reasonable to expect that we'll see more roles in support of innovation in this digital spectrum emerge. My own role is an example of that.
Additionally, we've designed new executive roles to help us tackle critical areas of focus, such as maintaining an engaged, informed and motivated team, discovering and developing new business lines in adjacent spaces to our core business and looking after the growing digital health practice. Even our traditional tech teams are developing rapidly — our cognitive and data science teams continue to expand as demand grows, and we are rapidly evolving in robotics, AI-related capabilities and in emerging competencies required to prepare for potential impacts of the arrival of quantum computing and other "deep tech."
Allowing for this organizational progression requires us to think differently about how we categorize the capabilities we must have in place to support the outcomes we desire. It forces us to plan with an extra layer of abstraction, managing to capability maturity as opposed to organizational maturity in the traditional sense. But this extra step is worth it — it allows us to be nimble, and very precise, in how we operate in support of making our communities healthier, one patient at a time.
Kevin McAllister ( @k__mcallister) is a Research Editor at Protocol, leading the development of Braintrust. Prior to joining the team, he was a rankings data reporter at The Wall Street Journal, where he oversaw structured data projects for the Journal's strategy team.