This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Healthcare has witnessed an innovation boom over the past decade. And today, it seems to be accelerating. In fact, the digital health market is expected to reach around $780 billion by 2030.
With continued expansion of everything “digital” in healthcare, what challenges should these innovations focus on? And how can organizations benefit the most from these new technologies?
In this episode of the Memora Health Care Delivery Podcast, our guest Sameer Berry, MD, MBA, co-founder and Chief Medical Officer at Oshi Health, talks about the current state of digital healthcare, where it’s going, and the several pain points it needs to help address.
Innovation moves slowly in healthcare — but things have changed for the better
As an industry, healthcare is often critiqued as outstandingly slow to adopt new and exciting innovations. And there’s some validity to it. For example, CMS only recently announced a pending change to begin accepting web-based Medicare CAHPS survey responses through email — a roughly 40-year-old technology.
Despite this traditionally measured approach, Dr. Berry suggests healthcare's unique attributes give good reason for caution.
Dr. Berry says, “[Providers] are very risk averse, and I think we should be. You do not want clinicians, decision-makers at large, or healthcare institutions to just jump at the new shiny object. This is not financial technology or digital entertainment. People’s lives are at stake. You can’t just move fast and break things.”
As Dr. Berry argues, it’s also important to consider that while existing health technologies still leave a lot to be desired, they’ve made significant improvements that are integral to the clinical experience.
He explains, “If you’ve ever worked in an institution where the EHR shuts down and you have to do everything by hand, it makes you miss your EHR very quickly … I believe healthcare technology has made a tremendous impact so far.”
Effective digital health technologies need to put patient experience at the center
If the focus of technological advancement in healthcare over the past decade has been cataloging patient data (EHRs), the next several years’ innovations will need to put patient experience at the center.
Dr. Berry says, “Healthcare’s broken because patients aren’t getting the care that they deserve. Full stop. Period. That’s all that really matters.”
That’s why he argues that forward-thinking care delivery technologies will need to be developed to consider all of the friction points patients encounter with their providers, and how to support care teams by streamlining their outdated workflows.
Dr. Berry adds, “One of the best ways that we can drive change is bottom up. Creating a new model, trying to work with the incumbent system the best we can, but also trying to keep everything within this blank, new canvas so we’re not reliant on traditional … workflows that just make it hard to get patients the care they deserve.”
By equally helping patients and their clinicians, intelligent care enablement has the potential to be the game-changing technology healthcare needs to achieve these goals.
Healthtech can help improve care delivery and make operational sense
Digital health needs to prioritize improving care delivery for both sides of the coin. But the best healthtech innovations can also streamline operations and support the entire system to be more efficient.
Using gastroenterology as an example, Dr. Berry remarks, “What [digital health solutions] can do is help gastroenterologists focus on delivering the type of care they’re trained to do very well — like making new diagnoses, managing complex patients, and doing procedures — and help off-load some of the patients … who need 45-minute visits, need a visit every two weeks, need to chat back and forth with their care teams every other day.”
By addressing ongoing low-level care needs for patients who need higher-touch care, high-tech digital platforms can reduce the burden on providers to handle frequent questions and concerns. For many organizations facing declining staff levels and increasing patient demands, the time has never been more ripe for these types of solutions.
Dr. Berry explains, “Most brick and mortar GI practices aren’t set up to handle that type of volume. I work at a brick and mortar practice once a week in New York City. There’s no way we could see our patients every two weeks … It’s about triaging patients exactly where they need to go, which is what drives improved outcomes and reduces the unnecessary cost.”