Reaching the Next Frontiers in Healthcare


September 30, 2019

Our nation’s healthcare system faces many challenges, including aging infrastructure, disconnected data collection and transmission, and high costs. In honor of Health IT week, we are proud to share a few examples of how we are meeting those challenges every day. Whether we are promoting industry standards in interoperability, transitioning legacy health records to the cloud or introducing cutting-edge humanoid robotics into clinical care, Cognosante is committed to keeping pace with the ever-changing new frontiers in healthcare.

Promoting Industry Standards in Interoperability

Many of us remember the days of paper health records. Federal agencies, states, and healthcare providers have made significant strides in establishing electronic health records (EHRs) and promoting the efficient and secure exchange of health data. The idea of a fully interoperable healthcare system was once unimaginable because it involves numerous stakeholders, multiple data standards, and massive amounts of clinical and administrative data that must be securely transmitted from Point A to Point B.

We are proud to join other industry leaders in founding the HL7 DaVinci project, a private sector initiative to accelerate the adoption of HL7® FHIR® as the standard to support and integrate value-based care (VBC) data exchange across communities. Our industry experts are currently developing a seamless process to move data between two data standards (HL7 and X12) without any loss of integrity. Thanks to the HL7 DaVinci project and other initiatives like it, the infrastructure and common data standards needed to support full interoperability are now within our reach.

Transitioning Legacy Health Records to the Cloud

Have you heard of MUMPS? No, not the disease, but the Massachusetts General Hospital Utility Multi-Programming System. This is a unique programming and database system that originated before 1989. This system is the underlying Extract, Transfer, Load (ETL) and database system for many financial and medical systems. Its code is prevalent in the U.S. healthcare system, but the developers and engineers that built these systems are rapidly exiting the workforce – making it costly and time-consuming to keep these systems interoperable with other, new programs in the health IT ecosystem.

Recently Cognosante migrated a MUMPS-based Electronic Health Record (EHR) to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud for one of the largest government healthcare agencies in the country.  The shift to cloud technology represents yet another frontier in healthcare, one that will continue to generate cost savings, improve security and create modern redundancy. It allows data to become more centralized and standardizes data elements and business processes before they are migrated to new EHRs.

Introducing Humanoid Robots into Clinical Care

So where do we go from here? We believe that the next frontier lies in innovations that combine the benefits of interoperability, cloud technology, and customer service to improve health outcomes and the patient’s care experience.

Innovations like humanoid robots, when connected to something like the Sequoia Project’s e-health exchange, can result in a powerful tool to collect, analyze and communicate healthcare information with patients and allow them to connect more meaningfully with providers. From a clinician’s perspective, it is a valuable resource that allows providers to focus on clinical care without compromising a patient’s emotional needs. It is also a source of secure data collection that can be fully integrated into an electronic health record ecosystem. Although they are not yet widely used in the United States, humanoid robots are being used around the world to improve health outcomes for patients with chronic conditions.

How are Robots Impacting Healthcare Currently?

A growing number of use cases position robotics as everything from “medical assistants” to emotional support. Robotic medical assistance is effectively increasing the number of patients a nurse can monitor at once – improving operational efficiencies in how care is administered. Children and seniors, in particular, are also known to have developed behavioral bonds with robot companions that are tied to positive changes in emotional state and ultimately better health outcomes.

Current Use Cases

Examples in which humanoid robots have yielded positive results outside of the U.S.

  • In the Netherlands, robots have been used to help children manage diabetes. The robot acts as a trainer and plays interactive games to help kids make the best decisions about what to eat, and how to manage their care. Developers extended the interaction through a mobile app. During the study, patients demonstrated improved knowledge of disease self-management, more consistent wellness visits and increased patient compliance.
  • In Belgium, the Pepper robot serves as a guide and information kiosk, answers non-medical questions, and frees clinical staff to perform other work. Pepper can walk hospital corridors with patients who need to move around following surgery, guide patients to labs for follow up procedures, and even offer comfort to patients in a maternity ward!
  • In a Canadian hospital, child-like robots are comforting children through flu shot season, pain coaching and general anxiety related to hospital visits. For example, a robot will talk to an anxious child as a friend, offering breathing exercises and comfort during a procedure and has shown positive clinical results from early hospital studies.

Applications within the U.S.

Based on their success abroad, we believe that the time is right to begin deploying humanoid robots in the United States. Here are two examples of where they might have a positive impact:

Fighting Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is a national epidemic. In 1974, 5% of children ages 2-19 were considered obese. By 2010, 16.9% fit that category.[1] Robot “medical assistants” can educate patients about how to make healthier choices and can track fitness and dietary choices using a mobile app. Secure data collection and integration with the electronic health record allows states and providers to measure their success in improving patient health outcomes.

Supporting Interoperability

States and other providers are under increasing pressure to demonstrate positive health outcomes. Recent initiatives in the Medicaid program (such as MIPS or the Integrated Care for Kids model) encourage investments in health populations. Robots and their robust data collection and processing capabilities can help states to maintain the patient records needed to support these initiatives and are fully interoperable with the electronic health record.

This is an exciting time for health IT. Interoperability, cloud, and robotics all have the potential to truly transform healthcare as we know it. We have the technology, the knowledge, and the innovative spirit to make them successful. By continuing to push the boundaries of what we think is possible, we expand our horizons and reach new frontiers.

Want to learn more?

Click here if you would like to learn more about robotics at Cognoante.

 

[1] USC Rossier 2018.