74% of Healthcare Organizations Are Confident Data and AI Tools Will Be the Key to COVID-19 Treatment

The following is a guest article by David DeAngelis, Healthcare General Manager at Dell Technologies.

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the pace of digital transformation in several industries. From retail and manufacturing to technology and financial services, every market sector is working to adapt to ongoing disruptive circumstances. Healthcare providers continue to face unique challenges as they balance the delivery of safer patient care with financial realities, while improving work-from-home capabilities for clinical and business staff and virtual care options.

At the same time, the worldwide population continues to age with more than 700 million people over the age of 65 today (9% of the global population) with one in three suffering with one or more chronic conditions such as cancer, chronic lung disease and heart disease. As chronic disease management and treatment is imaging-intensive, the need to better manage and gain intelligent insights from this growing patient data becomes even more critical. With new data types and the changes in healthcare that COVID-19 has brought, healthcare organizations are quickly moving into a new phase where they need to manage the short-term spikes in activity with continuous patient care.

Keeping safety at the forefront while expanding patient care delivery options across the care continuum has contributed to additional investments in virtual health and telehealth solutions. According to the Dell Technologies 2020 Digital Transformation Index, 43% of healthcare respondents stated that they have successfully accelerated their digital transformation strategies for remote patient care and diagnosis, ranking third on the overall list against other industries.

With virtual health services becoming increasingly prevalent, patients and healthcare providers are taking note of its benefits. In a recent report by McKinsey & Co, 76% of patient consumers are interested in using telehealth services, up from just 11% one year prior. That trend will continue as telehealth is anticipated to grow at an annual compounded rate of 38.2% until 2025.

In addition to virtual patient care, the healthcare industry has seen transformation of their in-house medical practices. When hospital admission is necessary, caregivers face the challenge of effectively treating and monitoring patients while avoiding high-risk infection. To combat this, video-enabled programs now provide caregivers the ability to interact with patients to avoid contact.

In the Dell Technologies 2020 Digital Transformation Index, 55% of healthcare respondents stated that they have successfully implemented, or are in the process of implementing, emerging technology—like robotics or VR—to support safe treatment of patients at a distance.

There’s also been a stronger focus on how data can be used to diagnose and track patients utilizing innovations in remote monitoring, IoT, artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics technologies. These capabilities leverage hospitals’ vast amounts of data and enable healthcare providers to make recommendations based on hundreds of thousands of data points rather than the few data points that may be garnered through an office visit. This in turn provides a more complete, holistic picture of a patient’s medial status.

According to Healthcare Global, the deployment of AI and automation technologies have already improved the overall efficiency of the healthcare ecosystem by 10 to 15%. Additionally, in the Dell Technologies 2020 Digital Transformation Index, 74% healthcare respondents expressed confidence that the use of their organization’s data and AI tools will help support accelerated efforts to develop medicines and technologies to fight COVID-19.

As healthcare organizations focus on the road ahead, they need to make smart investments that build agility and accelerate digital transformation to support new clinical workflows including:

  • Modernized Technology: Transforming your IT efficiency is critical for innovation in healthcare, creating a foundation which enables healthcare organizations to rapidly, cost-effectively and securely deploy multi-cloud, health IT infrastructure and high value workload solutions as data volumes grow, new regulatory requirements come into play, and new user expectations are created around health data access. In addition, cybersecurity and data protection defenses need to be strengthened.
  • Connected Workforce: Many clinicians are no longer working at the hospital site – but at the home office – providing patient care. You can imagine the significant data requirements they now have and the bandwidth they need as they work from their home offices – remote radiology, pathology and cardiology – and the need for a secure environment that is also easy to deploy and manage.
  • Virtual Health: Virtual care presents the opportunity for healthcare organizations to expand their reach with a larger set of patients and the ability to offer enhanced services for new revenue streams, such as virtual specialty consults in new geographies; scaling remote engagements with home-based diagnostics and treatment for patients with chronic diseases; and expanding telehealth to post-acute care.
  • Personalized Health: Data has become a key asset for healthcare organizations to gain a full patient view, and data pools will only continue to grow. Tools that help transform these data pools into insights can help make life changing care decisions for patients and populations. For specialized areas of care such as genomic research, healthcare organizations need to continue their investments in high performance computing (HPC) architectures that enable faster, more agile management of large volumes of genetic patient data.

Looking forward, the healthcare industry is transforming at a faster rate than ever before—however, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Armed with an extensive partner ecosystem, resources, services and industry experts, Dell Technologies is here to support healthcare leaders as they navigate the road ahead.