Article | April 7, 2020
The last time the world experienced a pandemic on the scale of COVID-19 was the Spanish flu pandemic from 1918 to 1920. All told, 500 million people were infected, and an estimated 35 million people succumbed to the virus. That’s because over a hundred years ago, the medical technology needed to fight that disease was non-existent. There were no lab tests to isolate the virus and no vaccines to treat it. What medical experts did enforce back then were the closures of schools and public places. Citizens were told to stay indoors and were advised against close contact with other people. Instead of placing the thermometer under the tongue or in the ear, the operator simply scans a person’s forehead to obtain an instant temperature reading without any physical contact.
Article | February 27, 2020
One off implementation services often take additional time to build, are more brittle and susceptible to failure, are less performant, and can impede realizing full value from your ERP investment. Productized integration means that there is ongoing coordination of the ERP application, the interface design, and the EHR, and that the interfaces are optimized for performance and tested prior to release. Productized integration delivers value faster and more reliably than one off implementations. For example, Infor Clinical Bridge is a product and subject to the exacting product design and testing process required for product release.
Article | September 4, 2020
A digital twin is a digital representation of a real-world entity or system. The implementation of a digital twin is a model that mirrors a unique physical object, process, organization, person or other abstraction. For healthcare providers, digital twins provide an abstraction of the healthcare ecosystem’s component characteristics and behaviors. These are used in combination with other real-time health system (RTHS) capabilities to provide real-time monitoring, process simulation for efficiency improvements, population health and long-term, cross-functional statistical analyses.
Digital twins have the potential to transform and accelerate decision making, reduce clinical risk, improve operational efficiencies and lower cost of care, resulting in better competitive advantage for HDOs. However, digital twins will only be as valuable as the quality of the data utilized to create them. The digital twin of a real-world entity is a method to create relevance for descriptive data about its modeled entity. How that digital twin is built and used can lead to better-informed care pathways and organizational decisions, but it can also lead clinicians and executives down a path of frustration if they get the source data wrong. The underlying systems that gather and process data are key to the success for digital twin creation. Get those systems right and digital twins can accelerate care delivery and operational efficiencies.
Twins in Healthcare Delivery
The fact is that HDOs have been using digital twins for years. Although rudimentary in function, digital representations of patients, workflow processes and hospital operations have already been applied by caregivers and administrators across the HDO. For example, a physician uses a digital medical record to develop a treatment plan for a patient. The information in the medical record (a rudimentary digital twin) along with the physician’s experience, training and education combine to provide a diagnostic or treatment plan. Any gaps in information must be compensated through additional data gathering, trial-and-error treatments, intuitive leaps informed through experience or simply guessing. The CIO’s task now is to remove as many of those gaps as possible using available technology to give the physician the greatest opportunity to return their patients to wellness in the most efficient possible manner.
Today, one way to close those gaps is to create the technology-based mechanisms to collect accurate data for the various decision contexts within the HDO. These contexts are numerous and include decisioning perspectives for every functional unit within the enterprise. The more accurate the data collected on a specific topic, the higher the value of the downstream digital twin to each decision maker (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Digital Twins Are Only as Good as Their Data Source
HDO CIOs and other leaders that base decisions on poor-quality digital twins increase organizational risk and potential patient care risk. Alternatively, high-quality digital twins will accelerate digital business and patient care effectiveness by providing decision makers the best information in the correct context, in the right moment and at the right place — hallmarks of the RTHS.
Benefits and Uses
Digital Twin Types in Healthcare Delivery
Current practices for digital twins take two basic forms: discrete digital twins and composite digital twins. Discrete digital twins are the type that most people think about when approaching the topic. These digital twins are one-dimensional, created from a single set or source of data. An MRI study of a lung, for example, is used to create a digital representation of a patient that can be used by trained analytics processes to detect the subtle image variations that indicate a cancerous tumor. The model of the patient’s lung is a discrete digital twin. There are numerous other examples of discrete digital twins across healthcare delivery, each example tied to data collection technologies for specific clinical diagnostic purposes. Some of these data sources include vitals monitors, imaging technologies for specific conditions, sensors for electroencephalography (EEG) and electrocardiogram (ECG). All these technologies deliver discrete data describing one (or very few) aspects of a patient’s condition.
Situational awareness is at the heart of HDO digital twins. They are the culmination of information gathered from IoT and other sources to create an informed, accurate digital model of the real-world healthcare organization. Situational awareness is the engine behind various “hospital of the future,” “digital hospital” and “smart patient room” initiatives. It is at the core of the RTHS.
Digital twins, when applied through the RTHS, positively impact these organizational areas (with associated technology examples — the technologies all use one or more types of digital twins to fulfill their capability):
Clinical communication and collaboration
Next-generation nurse call
Alarms and notifications
Integrated patient room
Digital Twin Usability
Digital twin risk is tied directly to usability. Digital twin usability is another way of looking at the issue created by poor data quality or low data point counts used to create the twins. Decision making is a process that is reliant on inputs from relevant information sources combined with education, experience, risk assessment, defined requirements, criteria and opportunities to reach a plausible conclusion. There is a boundary or threshold that must be reached for each of these inputs before a person or system can derive a decision. When digital twins are used for one or many of these sources, the ability to cross these decision thresholds to create reasonable and actionable conclusions is tied to the accuracy of the twins (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Digital Twin Usability Thresholds
For example, the amount of information about a patient room required to decide if the space is too hot or cold is low (due to a single temperature reading from a wall-mounted thermostat). In addition, the accuracy or quality of that data can be low (that is, a few degrees off) and still be effective for deciding to raise or lower the room temperature. To decide if the chiller on the roof of that patient wing needs to be replaced, the decision maker needs much more information. That data may represent all thermostat readings in the wing over a long period of time with some level of verification on temperature accuracy. The data may also include energy load information over the same period consumed by the associated chiller.
If viewed in terms of a digital twin, the complexity level and accuracy level of the source data must pass an accuracy threshold that allows users to form accurate decisions. There are multiple thresholds for each digital twin — based on twin quality — whether that twin is a patient, a revenue cycle workflow or hospital wing. These thresholds create a limit of decision impact; the lower the twin quality the less important the available decision for the real-world entity the twin represents.
Trusting Digital Twins for HDOs
The concept of a limit of detail required to make certain decisions raises certain questions. First, “how does a decision maker know they have enough detail in their digital twin to take action based on what the model is describing about its real-world counterpart?” The answer lies in measurement and monitoring of specific aspects of a digital twin, whether it be a discrete twin, composite twin or organization twin.
Users must understand the inputs required for decisions and where twins will provide one or more of the components of that input. They need to examine the required decision criteria in order to reach the appropriate level of expected outcome from the decision itself. These feed into the measurements that users will have to monitor for each twin. These criteria will be unique to each twin. Composite twins will have unique measurements that may be independent from the underlying discrete twin measurement.
The monitoring of these key twin characteristics must be as current as the target twin’s data flow or update process. Digital twins that are updated once can have a single measurement to gauge its appropriateness for decisioning. A twin that is updated every second based on event stream data must be measured continuously.
This trap is the same for all digital twins regardless of context. The difference is in the potential impact. A facilities decision that leads to cooler-than-desired temperatures in the hallways pales in comparison to a faulty clinical diagnosis that leads to unnecessary testing or negative patient outcomes.
All it takes is a single instance of a digital twin used beyond its means with negative results for trust to disappear — erasing the significant investments in time and effort it took to create the twin. That is why it is imperative that twins be considered a technology product that requires constant process improvement. From the IoT edge where data is collected to the data ingestion and analytics processes that consume and mold the data to the digital twin creation routines, all must be under continuous pressure for improvement.
Include a Concise Digital Twin Vision Within the HDO Digital Transformation Strategy
Digital twins are one of the foundational constructs supporting digital transformation efforts by HDO CIOs. They are digital representations of the real-world entities targeted by organizations that benefit from the advances and efficiencies technologies bring to healthcare delivery. Those technology advances and efficiencies will only be delivered successfully if the underlying data and associated digital twins have the appropriate level of precision to sustain the transformation initiatives.
To ensure this attention to digital twin worthiness, it is imperative that HDO CIOs include a digital twin vision as part of their organization’s digital transformation strategy. Binding the two within the strategy will reinforce the important role digital twins play in achieving the desired outcomes with all participating stakeholders.
Building new capabilities — APIs, artificial intelligence (AI) and other new technologies enable the connections and automation that the platform provides.
Leveraging existing systems — Legacy systems that an HDO already owns can be adapted and connected to form part of its digital platform.
Applying the platform to the industry — Digital platforms must support specific use cases, and those use cases will reflect the needs of patients, employees and other consumers.
Create a Digital Twin Pilot Program
Like other advanced technology ideas, a digital twin program is best started as a simple project that can act as a starting point for maturity over time. Begin this by selecting a simple model of a patient, a department or other entity tied to a specific desired business or clinical outcome. The goal is to understand the challenges your organization will face when implementing digital twins.
The target for the digital twin should be discrete and easily managed. For example, a digital twin of a blood bank storage facility is a contained entity with a limited number of measurement points, such as temperature, humidity and door activity. The digital twin could be used to simulate the impact of door open time on temperature and humidity within the storage facility. The idea is to pick a project that allows your team to concentrate on data collection and twin creation processes rather than get tied up in specific details of the modeled object.
Begin by analyzing the underlying source data required to compose the digital twin, with the understanding that the usability of the twins is directly correlated to its data’s quality. Understand the full data pathway from the IoT devices through to where that data is stored. Think through the data collection type needed for the twin, is discrete data or real-time data required? How much data is needed to form the twin accurately? How accurate is the data generated by the IoT devices?
Create a simulation environment to exercise the digital twin through its paces against known operational variables. The twin’s value is tied to how the underlying data represents the response of the modeled entity against external input. Keep this simple to start with — concentrate on the IT mechanisms that create and execute the twin and the simulation environment.
Monitor and measure the performance of the digital twin. Use the virtuous cycle to create a constant improvement process for the sample twin. Experience gained through this simple project will create many lessons learned and best practices to follow for complex digital twins that will follow.
Article | March 10, 2021
2020 was very challenging for those working in the healthcare sector. As Covid-19 is looking unlikely to go away anytime soon, healthcare marketing strategy is crucial in 2021. Do you know that one in every 20 Google searches is health-related? Also, almost 90% of 18-24-year-olds trust the health information they get on social media channels.
Consultations and appointments are being carried out online. Information on all medical things is available digitally and things in the medical industry are changing rapidly. Updating yourself and adapting healthcare marketing trends is more than a necessity. This blog provides some of the useful healthcare marketing tips for you in 2021 in light of Covid-19. These tips will help you stay ahead of the competition in these chaotic times.
Be Aware of the Covid-19 Impact on Healthcare Marketing
Due to the unexpected effect Covid-19 had in the healthcare sector, healthcare marketers have to integrate the latest healthcare marketing trends in 2021 in their campaigns. Here are some tips:
Demand for Healthcare Information
There is a huge demand for healthcare information, especially related to the pandemic. Engaging people with relevant informational and educational content is crucial. This content can be made on handwashing, mental health, being safe, staying healthy at home, etc.
Reputation is Key
The key to healthcare marketing is reputation building. Encourage and make patients leave positive feedback online. Learn and improve if you get any negative feedback. Almost 90% of patients use online reviews before consultation or booking an appointment. So, it is vital to have a safe and robust reputation in 2021.
Being transparent, you can become a trusted source of information. You can achieve it by keeping your patients updated on any scaling back of operations and policy changes. Answering the queries of patients online will also increase your reputation.
Invest in SEO
The demand for relevant user-generated content and organic searches has not gone away during the pandemic, it has just shifted. Many businesses reacted to the pandemic by pausing marketing campaigns. In 2021, you will have to keep adapting to the new normal in your healthcare marketing. Since the pandemic outbreak, most consumers are using search engines to look up symptoms, checking reviews of various healthcare providers, and making appointments. Here are some tips for ranking highly on search engines in 2021:
Linking the business website with other quality websites of the same category will increase your reputation and rankings on search engines.
Mobile optimization of your healthcare business website is essential in healthcare marketing. It is more important than ever in 2021 to stay connected with your patients on the go. So, if your website is not mobile-friendly, you will miss out on a massive number of patients, especially during this pandemic time.
Another essential thing in healthcare marketing is to create engaging and relevant content for your potential clients. Engaging, informational, and educational blogs will increase your online visibility in the healthcare industry and rankings in the search engines.
People searching for something, including healthcare providers, ‘near me’ is a trend. Optimizing your healthcare marketing content and being visible on Google My Business platforms will help you get ranked in search engine result pages.
Create a Seamless Patient Experience
The global pandemic has drastically changed the way the world works during 2020. These practices expect to be with us in 2021, too, perhaps even beyond. Therefore, the patient experience also has changed hugely. The pandemic has brought out new customs like online appointments due to recent social distance and other safety measures. As an effective healthcare marketing practice, it is essential to communicate with your patients in time to make any changes to your healthcare procedures.
Update your website
Ensure you update all the essential information about scheduling, appointments, new procedures, and phone consultations clearly on your business website. You can even add a Covid-19 section with FAQs on your website. FAQs can be about what patients can expect and how you are operating safely.
Personalize email and text notifications
Sending out new safety protocols, appointment reminders, and any changes to your policy via email or text is the best way to communicate with your patients. It can be an effective way of healthcare marketing during the pandemic. It will also ensure that you do not leave out any patients.
Mobile app experience
Creating an app for your healthcare business will provide your patients with an excellent customer experience. It allows patients to see test results, schedule appointments, chat with consultants, and upload images. Moreover, it will be a great healthcare marketing initiative as it will be valuable in the future of healthcare marketing too.
Update your social media
Updating your social media channels regularly with how you are operating during the pandemic will create a clear communication channel with your patients.
Healthcare content is key
Creating reliable, educational, and informative content for meeting user demand is critical for healthcare marketing in 2021. The best way to engage and inform patients is through video content. Video content is also easily accessible for potential customers to consume. It can be in the form of explaining a healthcare issue, what to expect at your appointment, or a Q&A with an expert. Educational, informative, and engaging video creation and distributing it in various channels can be an effective healthcare marketing tactic in 2021.
You can also publish statistics, studies, blogs, and news articles to project yourself as an expert in the healthcare industry. Healthcare marketing is all about building a strong reputation and driving up potential customer engagement.
The priority in 2021 is to stay on top of your healthcare marketing. We at Media 7 offer bespoke services for the healthcare industry. We generate leads, convert them, and make them your happy customers forever. To know more, visit Media 7 website.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does social media help in healthcare marketing?
Social media is a practical means to establish and manage public awareness and reputation. As part of an overall healthcare marketing plan, social media helps healthcare marketers interact with the public to attract new patients.
How do you create a successful healthcare marketing strategy?
The first step in creating a successful healthcare marketing strategy is to understand your target audience. After understanding the audience, you can have a step-by-step online marketing process, such as building a website, making your presence on social media, etc.
What are the benefits of healthcare marketing?
Some of the benefits and advantages of healthcare marketing are improved competitive advantage, networking, visibility, absence of misinformation, creating, communicating, and providing value. It also helps in building up a sustainable relationship with patients.