Technology has progressed significantly in the past 15 years and rarely does a week go by without some technology news headline. During this time, a quieter revolution has been brewing in the life sciences space. We have seen this on the global stage through the world's concerted effort these past 15 months in the research, development, manufacture, and deployment of a COVID-19 vaccine. That effort would have taken much longer, been less effective, and ultimately extended the pandemic without the efforts of teams leveraging great technology toward the goal. Research hubs, innovation labs, incubation co-ops, and more support systems have been built out around the nation years before this event. More projects, investments, and start-up companies have been pushing overall healthcare modernization to new heights. We pulled together some of Improving's expertise from Healthcare, Medical, and Life sciences teams. We will explore how companies have been able to leverage new technologies to make a difference for patient care and outcomes.
The medical and life sciences space is bursting at the seams with innovation, but often it is quiet and not talked about because of the Hype curve problem. If you are thinking to yourself, "What is a Hype curve" take a look.
Gartner originally developed the hype curve to help communicate the complexity and business viability of emerging technologies. This is important to balance expectations with Medical Modernization due to the impact of inflated expectations for providers and patients. Often this gets summarized by generic, banal platitudes like "Raising patient care while lowering costs," and those are easily dismissed because of the lack of detail. Unfortunately, those statements hide huge complexity, effort, and honest wins for the quality of life. Let's take a look, starting at the end of the hype curve.
When we look at the overall view of technology in healthcare, we are often looking at digital transformation that has already reached the Plateau of Productivity. These are the systems that we have come to expect in our healthcare platforms and interactions. Innovation in these areas is more about incremental gains realized over time than earth-shattering changes.
An easy example of a solid foundation built on technical innovation we can point to is a company called OzSystems; they lead the way in pioneered newborn screening and reporting. The goal was early detection and intervention for all issues that disproportionally impact newborns and present quality of life impacts. They broadly pushed the technology envelope and regulators to mandate this type of tracking. The result, a drastic reduction of untreated early childhood issues across many states and countries.
That may sound like an odd example of technological innovation due to the inclusion of regulatory updates. In the medical platform space, the addition of regulatory mandates becomes the hallmark of innovation that has successfully reached pervasive implementation and traversed this phase.
Living on the "Slope of Enlightenment" is a great place for companies that are leading the market. Adoption is growing, and the market is updating to understand the new best practices. This type of innovation is driven by both for-profit and non-profit companies. A couple of examples in this show up in raising the standard of care through the application of technology.
Next Wave Connect
The first is a company called NextWave Connect. They are bringing the idea of secure communities to the providers of different healthcare associations. They are creating a platform for communities that can safely, securely, and privately share best practices and lessons learned. This type of social media combined with cybersecurity allows for a more open discussion of practices and protocols. Seeing the standard of care inch up over time and the creation of space to innovate collaboratively has been great. Helping to build that platform in partnership with NextWave Connect, we have heard the stories of impact and better outcomes from their most active communities.
Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council (SETRAC)
The second example is the non-profit Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council (SETRAC). They have been building analytics for healthcare institutions to compare data between each other, breaking down several industry walls by allowing a non-marketing-driven comparison of care in certain spaces. While they focus on cardiac, stroke, trauma, and neo-natal, the potential for data-driven analysis of care is huge. Some of the biggest barriers to this have been both technical and organizational. The technology has to be good enough to find the solution in the data, and the organization has to be trusted to handle the multiple hospital system data. SETRAC has threaded that needle and continues to expand into more pattern recognition and likely into machine learning soon.
These tools and companies, along with the trust in each of them, have been pivotal in the past year. NextWave Connect provided a platform for groups of healthcare workers to seek community and ease the burden of stress that COVID-19 cases were causing. Similarly, SETRAC provided the system-wide analysis of bed usage and capacity analysis for the Houston hospital environment across all the systems. The trust in each of these was built on solid technology understood and applied well. That trust-building and broad adoption is the epitome of the slope of enlightenment.