During my time at eHealth week in Amsterdam the last few days, I noticed that when it comes to healthcare and IT, the conversation is changing. In the past, IT was pushed down the priority list and funded at the end of budget cycles. Now it’s being seen as one of the most important levers for the transformation that needs to happen in healthcare.
Technology is peer to policy for creating a healthier future
It’s something I hear not just in Europe, but everywhere I go. Health leaders the world over are looking for ways to meet the ever-increasing need for health services and improve population wellness, while reining in costs. And they’re realizing that health IT is now a full-fledged peer to policy when it comes to addressing their challenges and creating a healthier, more sustainable future.
Four steps to healthcare transformation
So during the eHealth week plenary session, I was honored to discuss how Microsoft works with our partners to bring solutions to bear that can help health customers achieve the four core pillars of healthcare transformation:
- Engage patients. People need to be connected to their health information and care system. Increasing transparency and creating high levels of knowledge for those who can make the biggest difference to healthcare—the patients themselves—is essential.
- Empower care teams. Health is no longer a solo sport with the doctor at the head of a hierarchical pyramid. It’s a team game. Healthcare has to be delivered in a collaborative way, which means that care teams need to be able to coordinate easily to provide cohesive, connected care for patients. And people who are making decisions along the care continuum need to be empowered with not just data, but actionable insight for more preventive and proactive approaches to health.
- Optimize clinical and operational effectiveness. To provide better care to more people at lower costs, health organizations have to be more efficient and effective than ever. They must connect information, people, and processes across the health ecosystem to streamline processes. And they need to empower health professionals and patients with quick, convenient access to insight and resources.
- Transform the care continuum. Healthcare must evolve from a “sickness system,” where care is reactive and episodic, to become a true “health system,” where the focus is prevention and wellness management.
The transformative cloud
To accomplish the four pillars of transformation, it’s vital that health organizations take advantage of cloud services. Cloud-driven solutions can dramatically reduce costs and improve efficiency by simplifying information management and sharing. They can also significantly enhance security in the modern healthcare context and allow for better data analysis to inform and improve treatment paths.
In Europe, I see some countries that are embracing the cloud, but I still see some that have yet to take that step. So my closing question to the plenary session audience was: If you’re truly dedicated to transforming healthcare, how can you not be fully dedicated to transformative technologies like the cloud that will make that possible? As my colleague Elena Bonfiglioli, Senior Director, Health Industry Europe Middle East and Africa, Public Sector, Microsoft wrote in a recent blog “Empowering health with a cloud we can trust” accelerating cloud adoption is key in delivering innovation in European healthcare.
To my readers, I pose the same question. Please reach out to us and share what’s stopping you if you haven’t fully embraced the cloud. And if you have, how are you using cloud services to transform healthcare? Let us know via email, Facebook, or Twitter. Please also contact us with any questions or comments.