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The U.S. healthcare system was in crisis even before COVID-19 turned the world upside down. Despite spending more on healthcare than other industrialized nations, the U.S. had the highest number of preventable hospitalizations and avoidable deaths.

“Even before the pandemic, HIMMS research was talking about the fact that likely 25% of rural hospitals would fail,” said Mary Edwards, president of the Provider Division at NTT Data Services. “Fast forward only a couple of months from that, and research being published across the industry [shows] outpatient revenues are down 11% year over year, inpatient revenue down as well, labor expenses up by nearly 18%.”

Edwards spoke with Stu Miniman, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, during Upgrade 2020, the NTT Research Summit. They discussed the virtualization of healthcare.

Disruptive change rocks healthcare

U.S. healthcare providers knew change had to happen; but like everyone else, they didn’t expect it to happen so fast. “Prior to the pandemic, health systems were happy if they could get to 10% [telehealth],” Edwards aid. “Overnight, virtual care went to 40%-50%.”

As an expert in future trends, NTT’s provider practice is supporting the healthcare industry to reshape around a digital future. “You can’t enable those digital front-door strategies unless you do things like get your applications to the cloud,” Edwards said.

By introducing robotic process automation and artificial intelligence to workflows and operations, NTT is helping healthcare providers increase efficient and reduce costs. Edwards described the NTT project known as Nucleus for Healthcare. The platform is a “digital front door” that can deliver scheduling, virtual care visits, care coordination and payment, “all integrated across the digital fabric in order to accelerate the industry and certainly our health system partners achievement of that digital front door vision and the full digital future for healthcare,” she said.

Advanced technologies enable ‘no-shore’ task allocation

Noting a trend toward outsourcing back-office tasks to lower-cost nations, known as offshoring, Edwards makes the case for no-shore — the application of automation and advanced analytics into operations.

“I love that concept of no-shoring and really using technology to position humans for their best possible work, solving the harder problems that we face as an industry,” she said.

NTT has been working on implementing smart city technology with the City of Las Vegas, and Edwards is excited about the possibilities of applying that technology to healthcare. “It’s certainly about patient observation and creating safe spaces where doctors and nurses don’t have to travel in and out of rooms when there’s a high contagion rate,” Edwards said. “But it’s also about using AI, not just to watch the room, but to allow AI to alert when there’s something very significant happening.”

Patient well-being is another area where NTT is using advanced technologies to make improvements in care. The company’s Disruption Division has developed a social robot named Jibo, which has been used as a social companion in children’s hospitals.

“There are lots of applications for that kind of technology, especially in a pandemic time, when most of our patients are isolated and craving some human interaction,” Edwards stated. “These capabilities can be like that. They can be companions, and they can provide the social interaction that really leads to health and well-being.”


Autor(en)/Author(s): Betsy Amy-Vogt

Quelle/Source: Silicon Angle, 28.09.2020

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