It’s okay to talk SMAC about healthcare – Social, Mobile, Analytics and the Cloud
Social.Mobile.Analytics.Cloud. Individually, they are four technological approaches to data and information that have revolutionized the way companies do business. Together they form SMAC, an impressive juggernaut that promises to deliver efficiencies across the board in a variety of sectors including healthcare.
All around the world, the healthcare industry has been wrestling with shrinking margins and rising costs. The United States faces the additional burden of an uncertain legislative landscape surrounding the Affordable Care Act, which translates to pressure to deliver better quality service at a lower cost.
A SMAC approach delivers just that. Whether it’s by sharing preventive care tips through social media, allowing patients to access their health records on mobile devices via the cloud or matching a patient to the right senior-care provider through analytics, SMAC leverages data to deliver efficiencies and cut administrative costs while also improving patient outcomes.
According to analysis from Deloitte in its paper, SMAC: Better together, a hospital that improves care coordination using SMAC tools can save up to $3.7 million per 1,000 patients per month. Here’s a closer look at three significant ways SMAC ensures health tech firms and care providers focus on what matters most: the patient.
The use of SMAC increases a patient’s access to information, allowing for greater control in their own healthcare journey. For example, they may opt to receive medication reminders via text message or use a wearable device that monitors their activity levels.
Paid apps like Heads Up Health can be downloaded by patients to their mobile devices to aggregate all of their information for a data-driven approach to health. Through customized dashboards, alerts, trends, reports and other analytical tools, patients can adapt their lifestyles to optimize their health.
David Korsunsky, Heads up Health founder and CEO, says consumers are able to see how lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise can affect clinical markers of health. “We’re educating consumers, and that takes a load off of the healthcare system because people might not need as many services,” he says.
Social media is also serving as an opportunity to connect consumers with others going through similar health experiences. “There are Facebook communities with thousands of people working on specific dietary interventions and these are people figuring out better solutions for themselves,” explains Korsunsky. “They learn from others in the peer group and often share the data with their doctor.”
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Improving patient outcomes
While many aspects of healthcare legislation are in flux, one element that is not going to change is the emphasis on the patient, says Julie Smith, CEO of Homewatch CareGivers.
A SMAC approach is helping her company — a franchise that provides home healthcare for seniors — put a measurable number on the liklihood of achieving a positive “outcome”. Her company’s proprietary cloud computing healthcare technology platform, Care+, allows providers to track seniors’ walking and cognitive abilities, and delivers this data to their doctors and family members. Smiths says that Care+ has made the organization a great partner within the healthcare continuum because of its ability to show physicians and other health providers measurable and quantifiable metrics from the home or hospice.
SMAC healthcare tools have also helped franchisees of Homewatch CareGivers administratively as the patient metrics it tracks can be used to efficiently match caregivers with patients. For example, a patient who scores low on cognitive abilities can be connected to a provider who is skilled in caring for dementia patients.
Cloud computing in healthcare is changing the way patients access information and how providers disseminate data. It has the capability to improve efficiency, drive down costs and encourage collaboration, but at it’s most basic level, it can ensure the correct information gets into the hands of the people who need it.
Yext, a New York City tech company that helps businesses manage public facts about their brands online, does just this by making sure that doctors’ online information is constantly updated and is correctly displayed across multiple websites. “If the patient can’t find the right information about a doctor or a medical provider online, that’s a bad patient experience but also a bad mapping experience for the health system,” says Carrie Liken, head of industry for healthcare at Yext.
A Yext survey this year found that 71 percent of people use voice search on their phones at least once a day, and if given the option, nearly one in three would prefer to use a voice search device to search for health information. Because contact details need to be manually updated across multiple websites, this information is often inaccurate and doesn’t always show up reliably when users search for it. Yext’s cloud-based system fixes these discrepancies and makes sure consumers have access to the right medical provider information.
As Yext demonstrates, not all four components of SMAC need be harnessed simultaneously or in equal parts to achieve positive patient healthoutcomes. For example, Homewatch Caregivers relies heavily on advanced analytics, but a smartphone platform for improving health, such as Heads Up Health, would rely more on the social and mobile components of the equation.
Throughout healthcare, SMAC is being used to improve the patient experience, improve health outcomes and cut administrative costs. Equally important, SMAC is giving providers and healthtech firms the necessary white space to further focus on delivering high-touch care. As Smith of Homewatch Caregivers concludes, “We use technology to boost, not replace, person-centered care. Delivery of healthcare is still about one-on-one relationships with some of the most fragile people. And we always use that as a leading indicator, not data.”