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Here, five health systems leaders across the country answer the question, “What was the most impactful health technology innovation in 2021?” “

Editor’s Note: Answers have been edited slightly for clarity and style.

Aaron Martin. Chief Digital and Innovation Officer at Providence (Renton, Wash.): Optimization of access to health care. Aggregate patient demand, direct patients to the right place of care (doctor, retail, emergency care, telehealth, emergency department, etc.), then balance the load of the clinician’s time supply to increase access and patient satisfaction while reducing clinician burnout. In 2022, it will be patient engagement – creating opportunities to provide healthcare services, education, and products to patients between episodes of clinical care to truly build a long-term relationship with the patient.

Karen Murphy, Ph.D., IA. Innovation Director at Geisinger (Danville, Pennsylvania): The most significant healthcare technological innovation in 2021 has been the scalable use of remote patient monitoring. We have seen an increase in 2020 due to COVID, but over the past year the industry has started to understand the potential of connecting digitally with patients to monitor their health. Remote patient monitoring brings a huge value proposition. Monitoring patients at home provides essential information to providers. Warning signs can alert providers to intervene to prevent disease progression. Interventions such as medication adjustments may be made to avoid further exacerbation. Remote patient monitoring, when used correctly, will reduce the total cost of care by avoiding emergency department visits and potentially hospital readmissions.

As the use of remote patient monitoring increases, it will be important for technology companies to integrate with additional systems such as the EHR. This will improve ease of use for providers. As technology advances, patients will be better able to engage in self-management in a way that will improve clinical outcomes. The use of this technology will most certainly become common in the future.

Thomas Graham, MD. Director of Innovation and Transformation at Kettering Health (Dayton, Ohio): I believe the biggest driving force behind the Needle of 2021 has been the transition of virtual care from a peripheral technology to an essential tool. Of course, the advances in precision medicine, diagnostics and therapeutics, medical devices and data analysis are impressive; However, the biggest impact was seen when we were finally forced to flip the switch and embrace what was new as a vital instrument in our daily care.

The familiarity (both physician and patient) that has developed from our pandemic experience will shift the paradigm of healing, give rise to a myriad of spin-off technologies, and even change the regulatory / legislative landscape. I’m just as inclined to seek out the next ‘shiny metallic object’ as the next innovation thought leader, but every now and then we have to recognize a stylish recalibration of a technology that has been reused by the time we needed it most. I believe that “Telemedicine 2.0” is here to stay and will provide a solid foundation on which to build the advances of tomorrow.

Jeffrey Sturman. Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer at Memorial Healthcare System (Hollywood, Florida): In the face of COVID, I think it should be said that all virtual health capabilities have developed considerably and evolved further in 2021, so that has the most impact on what we do. Through virtual health, we have continued to care for patients, improved our ability to engage consumers in new ways, created more entry points, and matured with a focus on value-based care. Virtual health broadly includes telehealth, electronic consultations, electronic visits, electronic intensive care unit, remote monitoring of inpatient and outpatient settings, and many other areas in which we have helped our suppliers engage. effectively consumers.

There are many other innovations that we have launched that will increase to create huge continuing impact. Namely, the focus on artificial intelligence and the automation of robotic processes helps reduce staff shortages, create cohesive care delivery, and automate much of the revenue cycle. Our introduction to creating an omnichannel experience for our consumers, by putting much more decision making and capabilities in the hands of consumers through voice, chat, text, email and self-service, is a game-changer for the health sector. Finally, a focus on intelligent voice assistance to increase provider and patient satisfaction.

Mark Kandrysawtz. Director of Innovation at WellSpan Health (York, Pennsylvania): The most significant technological innovation of the year was the growing attention to the application of AI in healthcare, both for the business functions of the company and the delivery of care. We’re seeing a rapid growth in attention across the landscape: from innovators in Silicon Valley to ongoing research in universities and medical schools and experimentation at the community health level. At WellSpan Health, we’ve invested in clinical and consumer AI and are experimenting with the use of AI to transform our business to make care more affordable, efficient, and easier to use.