Face Off: Evaluating the impact of technology and innovation on the healthcare sector

Face Off: Evaluating the impact of technology and innovation on the healthcare sector

2023-09-18T15:55:49-04:00September 18th, 2023|Economy, Face Off, Healthcare, Tampa Bay|

Writer: Jerrica DuBois

2 min read September 2023 — Technology and innovation are at the forefront of the healthcare industry, and as more is introduced into the sector, the more apt medical professionals can be to save lives. Cultivating technology in the healthcare realm can also improve results and, in many cases, enable the patient to recover in the comfort of their home. This also allows for lower costs in the long run, shortening hospital stays and reducing financial stress for the patient and their family. 

Innovation can also have a greater impact on the elderly population, as 56% of total healthcare spending is made up of those over 55 in the U.S. However, they only make up 30% of the total population. Meanwhile, Japanese researchers are exploring the concept of a “Smart City”, where digital technology monitors data including steps taken and blood pressure. According to initial research, this could save a person in their 70’s over $2,000 in healthcare costs per year.

As a healthcare hub, Tampa Bay leaders are maintaining focus on all that the industry continues to research, explore and produce. Invest: spoke with Stephanie Conners, president and CEO of BayCare Health System, and Jyric Sims, president of the West Florida Division of HCA Healthcare, to discuss their views on the impact of technology and innovation, health literacy, affordability and value-based care.

How has technology and innovation impacted your operations?

Stephanie Conners, President & CEO, BayCare Health System: “Technology is critically important. When you look at the opportunities in healthcare, it is pretty traditional. We have policies and procedures, clinical pathways and ways of doing things that science tells us will improve the health of our communities. We do not necessarily think big and bold about what the future can hold around these technologies. For example, everyone is concerned about what AI will mean. If we use it in the right way, though, it can have a massive impact. At BayCare, we are co-developing an AI tool called Medical Brain that will allow nurses to use voice technology to enter patient information directly into electronic medical records at the bedside. That means their attention can be on the patient instead of focused on documenting. We are also considering how we deliver the right care at home because the last thing you want to do is travel when you are sick. The healthcare industry needs to allow itself to be innovative and bold. We have a lot of leaders who recognize the art of the possible. Innovation is the future of healthcare.”

Jyric Sims, President – West Florida Division, HCA Healthcare: “If you look at technology and innovation across our industry it is phenomenal, from AI to how we think about and process data. If you were to conduct a comparative effectiveness study, a time period that would take us a month to six months to aggregate the patients needed for that study would take other institutions years because they do not have the patient numbers. Our ability to use technology and scale to bring value and innovation is one that other systems just do not have access to. This comes down to our ability to access patients and caregivers. We are the largest robotic utilizer in the country and implement technology in a majority of regular functions in order to bring that scale and value to patients.”

How does the role of health literacy factor into the modern patient experience?

Conners:Patients are their own greatest advocates. Health literacy starts with the education from the provider – the clinicians, nurses and multidisciplinary teams. It’s important to help patients best understand the situation they are in and how to treat it. Everyone talks about preventative health but what is that? Is it just ensuring you are getting your colonoscopy and mammogram? Not necessarily. When you are looking at the health of your loved ones, you are focused on what they are eating, whether they are getting exercise and sleep and their mental health. BayCare is the main acute care facility in the area focusing on behavioral health. We believe we are treating more than just a disease; we are treating the whole person beyond the disease. Mental health goes beyond a physical diagnosis, for example. We have to think about how a healthcare situation can affect one’s mental health along with addressing their condition.”

Sims: “Individuals are searching for symptoms and going to “Dr. Google” for answers. People are no longer waiting for the Sunday paper to know what is going on in the world; they are so connected to what is going on. We have the ability to educate by putting information out there where they are and it needs to be accessible in terms of being multilingual and digestible for a normal person to understand and not filled with medical jargon. We have a campaign called “We show up” to address issues like health literacy and food scarcity in our local communities.”

How do you hope to see the healthcare industry evolve when it comes to affordability? 

Conners: “There are misperceptions in cost of care. Hospitals are in challenging situations because the cost of care is rising. Costs of labor and supplies have doubled at rates we have never seen. When we look to resolve the issues of total cost of care, we have to ensure we have care available at home, at the hospital and in-between. It’s about making sure your patients are getting care at the right place, at the right time, with the right provider and optimizing care outcomes. Every healthcare-committed individual focused on delivering excellence pays attention to ensuring we are utilizing the right resources but, ultimately, the cost of care is high because of where we are post-pandemic. We all have to rally to ensure we are lowering the cost of care without losing sight of serving our community and improving their health and well-being.”

Considering the challenges in the healthcare industry, where does the industry stand with regard to the shift to value-based care? 

Sims: “There have been shifts from prospective payment systems. There are a lot of cycles that happen not only in other industries but in healthcare as well. When you think about the healthcare system in the United States, paying on a per click or episodic care modality has been pervasive for decades. Now, we are shifting toward a value- or outcomes-based method. This modality takes into account satisfaction, experience, quality and the amount of value being delivered. Regarding HCA, you can stack our outcomes against anyone else in the country. We deliver value. Payers are latching on and driving much of this. We are seeing them choose hospitals and physicians based on the value provided.” 

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