Awareness, new tech applications vital to improving population health

By Dave Muoio

For years, there has been a growing movement to consider patients’ time outside of the healthcare system as a key determinant of their health. As more and more technologies allow providers to apply new passive sensors, digital interventions, and other novel strategies, some experts are urging stakeholders in the health industry to remember those who may not normally be in a position to receive continuous care or practice healthy lifestyle habits.

“I’m not sure you can place the entire blame on the individual — actually, I’m pretty sure that you can’t,” Vik Bakhru, COO of ConsejoSano, said. “You really have to think beyond what the choices are that individual is making, you have to think about their daily life. They’re working two jobs, they don’t have good access to transportation, they have cultural barriers or language barriers, they’ve got childcare issues — how can we start talking about the fact that they need to be spending two hours a day on meal prep to make sure that they’re eating healthy foods, because … purchasing foods from Whole Foods is just not an option in that particular person’s case.”

Bakhru will be speaking at the Digital and Personal Connected Health event at HIMSS18 about the insufficient quality of population health efforts within a relatively well-funded US healthcare system. Specifically, he’ll tackle the importance of looking beyond an individual’s specific interactions with healthcare, and why working to improve daily health for all patients can benefit the system as a whole.

“Our healthcare system needs to be thinking about the home setting and the daily lives of the people that we’re trying to care for. Care needs to extend beyond the inpatient hospital setting and beyond the timeline in disease evolution when it’s too late to have the types of impact you can have with far fewer dollars — there’s a true ROI here as well.”

Of note, Bakhru stressed the importance of awareness and new technologies in solving this issue. The latter, he said, will be an especially vital tool when it comes to scaling care and learning about patients’ habits and needs.

“We have to find ways where we can communicate with groups of patients, where we can receive information back and deliver very customized patient experience. That’s important, that the patients still feel all of the love under the sun, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we need 20 times the number of healthcare practitioners. It’s really about finding efficient ways to deliver this approach, and that’s where technology can play a role, through artificial intelligence, machine learning, some of these concepts that are just now starting to be applied.”

Bakhru will be presenting in the Wynn's Alsace room from 3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on March 5.