Industry Focus: Care Planning
Digitization has barely left any industry untouched, and healthcare is arguably one of the biggest markets that has observed changes due to digital technology. What is significant about these changes is that aside from the obvious winners that are patients and health providers, job seekers too now have myriad opportunities to demonstrate their skills and find well-paid employment within the various sectors of digital healthcare. In this article, we take a close look at one such sector—that of care planning—and also outline the job roles and career paths that have developed concurrently, as well as the skills and education associated with them.
How Has Digital Health Impacted Care Planning?
Care planning has traditionally been a big obstacle for the healthcare community. Lack of proper care planning for patients with serious illnesses and for those at the end of their lives is both expensive and unpleasant for the patient since many of their needs go unmet and unrealised. But with the ongoing shift toward value-based care and reimbursements in the healthcare industry, digitisation of solutions has presented a promise of more efficient care coordination.
Digital Technology Improves Communication
By using digital technology as a means of driving patient communication and collective insights-based decision making, patients, caregivers, and providers can pave the way for ideal outcomes. For reference, a research document by experts Karen Detering and Maria J Silveira indicates that advanced care planning increases compliance of patients’ wishes, reduces hospitalization at the end of life, increases utilisation of hospice services and palliative care, improves quality of life for patients and their family, and decreases hospital death in favour of death at the patients’ preferred location.
According to Stephanie Neiman at mobihealthnews, digital health companies that, among other things, gain the trust of patients and engage patients and families on issues that are uncomfortable and difficult are likely to have the biggest impact. Furthermore, solutions that are scalable and patient-centric have a higher chance of flourishing. As the practice of care planning grows, many vendors have already developed such solutions. It is expected that care planning will continue to transform alongside developments in digital health technology and its adoption.
What Are Some Real-World Care Planning Solutions in the Industry Today?
By and large, innovators and entrepreneurs have been recognising the burgeoning demand for digital solutions in the care planning aspect of healthcare. According to a Statista report, the global digital health market has been forecasted to reach USD 206 billion by the year 2020. Needless to say, investments are soaring and startups have been embracing this window of opportunity to design and implement their solutions. Below are some examples of success stories in care planning. If you interested in behind the scenes insights to a startup dedicated to care planning we recommend our interview with award-winning Buddy Healthcare.
Care Planning Solutions For Medical Professionals
- Caremerge. Caremerge is a collaborative platform that utilizes cross-enterprise workflow automation technology to allow flow of information at the appropriate times for providers to make necessary decisions. It brings together several involved parties – hospitals, seniors and patients, doctors, accountable care organizations, managed care organizations, and other caretakers – so that they can coordinate care.
- Iris Plans. For patients with serious medical conditions, Iris Plans facilitates professionals who discuss and help implement complex advanced care planning decisions. Conversations are coordinated mainly using video conferences, and these conversations provide patients and caregivers with the education, guidance, and support needed to navigate important care-related decisions in a comfortable environment.
- Oncora Medical. This company specialises in precision radiation oncology, integrating data and machine learning to allow doctors to deliver tailored radiation treatments to patients. Valuable quantitative data and analysis ensures that doctors are able to design balanced radiation treatment plans, ones that prevent unnecessary toxicities and side effects while also being strong enough to contain or cure the tumors.
- Vital Decisions. A true pioneer in the caring sector of digital health, Vital Decisions employs specialists for patients with serious illnesses to talk to, concerning care-related matters. It provides a safe space for patients to communicate their preferences and helps create a plan to implement them thereafter.
- Vynca. Vynca offers multiple healthcare providers with tools to optimize end of life care planning. Using the Physicians Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment paradigm, it ensures that patients’ wishes are met, resulting in empowered patients, reduced costs, and personalized care. By merging information across a number of providers, from hospitals and hospices to family members and payers, it optimizes outcomes for all.
- Wellframe. With a team composed of experts trained from the likes of MIT and Harvard, Wellframe is a solution that helps mobilize health care plans and care delivery organizations. It leverages a combination of mobile technology, artificial intelligence, and human-centred process design in order to sustain care plan engagement, increase management efficiency, and save medical costs.
Patient Engagement and Patient Communication
- Emmi Solutions. Using online interactive multimedia programs and interactive voice response, Emmi Solutions helps drive and optimize patient engagement. With technology-based solutions and a human-centred approach, the company helps save time and money and allows the most in-need patients to receive priority care. This, along with its expertise in behavioural and educational science, has created proven results across clinical, financial, and care-planning objectives.
- Get Real Health/AdVault. Through a platform called MyDirectives, patients can communicate their own emergency, critical and advance care plans to their families, doctors, and other caregivers. Easy to create, share, and update, it ensures that patients’ needs and desires are met should they be unable to express those needs and desires at later critical times. The InstantPHR tool promotes a collaborative approach by using an interactive user interface for optimal decision-making and communication.
- WiserCare. WiserCare offers an interactive patient decision support platform that helps drive smarter decision-making through key insights on patient preferences, goals, and barriers. The company boosts patient engagement by coordinating with patients in their own time, and creates individualised outcome profiles with a patient-specific view of likely outcomes, risks, and benefits. Care teams and patients both benefit from the resultant transparency and sharing of insights.
Care Planning Solutions Focused on Specific Diseases
- CareSync. Caresync is a chronic disease management platform that helps better track and navigate treatment and care. It helps patients better understand the realities of their condition and facilitates more effective engagement with doctors. For providers, it offers care coordination services and software to create the best care plans for their patients. Family and other caregivers too can be added to the system to view critical data and weigh in on decisions.
- DreamitHealth. For patients battling chronic diseases such as diabetes, DreamitHealth offers Dbaza Health, a digital onboarding platform that helps manage conditions and reduce costs. It allows creation of patient profiles and customisation to evaluate and regulate conditions. The solution is in the form of a Software as a Service (SaaS) mobile platform.
- Rimidi. Rimidi focuses on diabetes care management with its cloud-based solutions platform. It helps improve self-management by delivering relevant information to patients, enhances decision support by bringing together patients and physicians in decision-making, and helps close gaps in treatment delivery by tracking and analysing key performance metrics across diabetic populations. Monitoring patient data, stratifying patients according to risk, and engaging with patients becomes a lot more effective.
How have Developments in Digital Health Affected the Job Market?
The creation and success of solutions such as those listed above represent not only scope for digital healthcare platforms in today’s context, they also indicate a boom in employment. As startups and tech companies launch and then proceed to manage their companies and projects, they create a line of job roles and positions in their wake. Furthermore, the health facilities that integrate solutions offered by these vendors too require employees adept at implementing solutions properly.
In the United States, a report by the American Health Information Management Association put forward that up to 50,000 jobs were created in health informatics alone in 2017. The same patterns are echoed globally, as providers and patients across the globe begin to adopt digital solutions. Here are some of real-world job areas that have become available:
- Data science or analytics. A lot of data is generated using digital health tools, but employees are needed to analyse and make meaningful use of them.
- Software development/design. The majority of digital solutions created are centred on software applications that address relevant health issues.
- Web application development/design. Web applications are crucial for companies to enhance performance and may serve as solutions in themselves.
- Mobile platform development/design. With ever-growing use of mHealth apps, employees who can develop or design mobile solutions are of great use to companies.
- Application/Cloud Operations. Many vendors and providers use cloud-based platforms, which require acute understanding of how to operate and integrate tools effectively.
- Health/Clinical Informatics. Electronic medical record systems are being more popularly opted, thus creating a need for suitable administrative support.
- IT Support/Security. Employees who can identify and resolve tech issues and help prevent data breaches or other security violations are valuable to companies.
Other Related Jobs
- Human Resources. With the number of employees in digital health growing, jobs in recruiting, hiring, and supporting these employees too are expanding.
- Research Science/R&D. Innovations in digital health are not likely to stagnate, and there is need for research and development to predict, create, and upgrade solutions for the future.
- Project Management. Companies need employees who can oversee projects and coordinate different groups and elements.
- Regulatory Affairs. Digital health solutions need to be in accordance with national and/or international regulatory laws, so experts who can offer insights are highly sought.
How Can Job-Seekers Enter the Digital Healthcare Industry?
For digital health companies and the businesses who consume them, there is a want for skilled applicants who are both tech-savvy and able to deliver important insights into healthcare issues and ways to solve them digitally. While job opportunities are proliferating, the very nature – sensitive, high-stakes, and potentially very lucrative – of developing healthcare-related service tools means that positions are highly competitive and likely to be granted to only the most qualified applicants.
However, just as there are many jobs available, there are also many avenues through which to obtain the required qualifications. To get an idea of the universities in the UK that offer pertinent courses, take a look at this brief list of examples below (note that these constitute only some possible options; a quick search for degrees on the web will show you numerous programs across the region):
Study Programs Focused on IT/ Data Science
- Computer Science/Information Technology— University of Cambridge, University of Warwick, King’s College London, etc.
- Cyber Security— Lancaster University, Royal Holloway, University of York, etc.
- Data Journalism/Science— Cardiff University, Birmingham City University, Birbeck University of London, University of Derby, etc.
- Digital Innovation— University of London, London School of Economics, Southampton University, University of Warwick, etc.
- Digital Media Development— University of Brighton, University of Winchester, University of Leeds, Edinburgh Napier University, etc.
- Math & Statistics— University of Oxford, University of Southampton, University of Canterbury, etc.
- Mobile Application Development— University of Kent, University of Derby, University of the West of Scotland, Staffordshire University, etc.
- Networks and Computer Systems Security— University of Greenwich, University of South Wales, University of Wolverhampton, etc.
- Software Engineering— University of Glasgow, Staffordshire University, York St John University, etc.
- UX Design— University of York, University of Dundee, University of Portsmouth, etc.
Study Programs Focused on Health
- Biomedical Science— University of Manchester, University of Edinburgh, University of Surrey, etc.
- Digital Health— University of Strathclyde Glasgow, University of Cumbria, Glasgow Caledonian University, etc.
- Health Informatics— University of Leeds, University of West London, Kingston University, etc.
For industry hopefuls, certification in such areas (usually at the graduate or postgraduate level, depending on the job) will mean eligibility for certain positions at different institutions. Interested graduates and professionals can start by looking over vacancy announcements and job openings on websites of digital health companies operating fully or partially in the region.