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Emerging Technology Could Help Fill Healthcare Gaps

Healthcare that is accessible, affordable and available to all may not be all that far off thanks to advancing technology.

On Thursday, Bisnow Seattle Future of Healthcare 2018 event panelists discussed how evolving technology can help bridge gaps that prevent equity in the way care is applied. There is a major shift in the industry that puts the emphasis on preventing illness rather than reacting to it.

B+H Advanced Strategy Director and co-founder Bryan Croeni, UW Medicine Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Flum, Virginia Mason Health System CEO Dr. Gary Kaplan, TGB Architects' Lois Jean Broadway, Swedish Health Services CEO Dr. R. Guy Hudson and OpenSquare Director of Workspace Consulting Rhonda Pollard, who moderated

Technology is the key, if properly applied, The Polyclinic Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marc Miller said. Technology, and the data collection made possible because of it, can expose gaps in an individual’s care that can then be addressed.

Currently, the healthcare system is built on a payment structure that pays providers for giving care to sick patients. Thanks to technology, that trend is shifting from fee-for-service to a set fee for everything included, Vera Whole Health Chief Revenue Officer Jennifer Sargent said. In that scenario, wellness becomes more of a priority and, thanks to advances in technology, more affordable.

Technology can help with tasks like collection of patient data and vital statistics. 

“Let technology do the easy stuff and let the providers do the hard stuff,” she said. “Technology can’t replace the face-to-face care that a human can provide.”

One problem is that all this technology takes up precious space in hospitals and doctors’ offices.

“In 1976, when some of the hospitals were built, there were no personal computers, no robotics, no CTs,” CHI Franciscan Health Chief Operating Officer Ian Worden said. The current rooms aren't designed to handle the heat caused by all the machines.

The Polyclinic Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marc Miller, Microsoft Director of Health Strategy Benjamin Shobert, OAC principal Derek Rae, Vera Whole Health Chief Revenue Officer Jennifer Sargent, PAE Consulting Engineers associate Daniella Moreano Wahler, CHI Franciscan Health Chief Operating Officer Ian Worden and Abbott Construction Project Executive Kyle Raschkow, who moderated

Evolving technology will always be a challenge, but buildings need to be constructed to handle the changes, OAC principal Derek Rae said. The healthcare construction industry needs to figure out a way to develop buildings that will allow for flexibility as technology changes.

Buildings can be renovated to utilize technology that helps them operate more efficiently, and it is not always that expensive, PAE Consulting Engineers associate Daniella Moreano Wahler said.

“I’ve seen buildings where the boiler and cooler are running at the same time,” she said. “That is not efficient. There are some really easy fixes out there that can save a lot of money.”

When it comes to providing care, applying technology can be tricky, Microsoft Director of Health Strategy Benjamin Shobert said. 

“Right now we are at an interesting moment,” he said. “The hope is that more healthcare technology is going to make things better. But technology misapplied can also make things much worse. It can shine a light on healthcare issues, but can’t always solve those issues.”

Related Topics: Microsoft, healthcare technology