As their first product developed specifically for the healthcare industry, Salesforce announced on September 2, 2015 their new Health Cloud which is being proclaimed a revolution in health IT and also in how care is delivered.
Healthcare IT Yesterday and Today
In order to understand just how big this news is, it is vital to first look at health IT. It has long been known that older technologies have hampered innovation in how patient care is managed. Ironically, whilst medicine has made inroads in precision and sophistication, Information Technology hasn’t grown alongside those innovations. As a result, IT systems have appeared archaic and for good reason – they are. Citing such innovations in modern medicine as drugs that can target a specific cancer to gene therapy, it is easy to see how current IT health systems are lagging behind the times.
One of the reasons why this has been the case is thought to be the fact that healthcare providers are also number crunchers. That is to say, they need to look at their bottom line. Systems that monitored and inventoried body parts and procedures were necessary for fee-based services. This type of delivery of care is likened to taking a vehicle in for repair. It left patients feeling more like a movie prop than a human in need of care that often entailed a process that should have been quite intimate. As more and more procedures and tests were administered, the more those providers could charge.
This led to IT systems that were developed to manage revenue in the ‘70s and ‘80s and this led to what we today refer to as EHR, Electronic Health Records. However, at the turn of the century there were new developments that forever changed the IT landscape and this is what we know as ‘The Cloud.’ Amazingly, healthcare never seemed to make an effort to catch up to the times.
Consumers Are in Control
It is now possible for consumers to purchase anything online from theatre tickets to viewing their customer histories on e-commerce sites as well as viewing and paying bills over the internet. As a backdrop to social sites and mobile technology is the Cloud which enables consumers to better interact with brands and puts them in complete control of where and how they spend their money. This is especially important if they are unhappy with the services or products provided.
This leads to another very important point in the news regarding the release of Health Cloud and that all ties into how reimbursements are tied into outcomes because of the Affordable Care Act. For the very first time, patients are being viewed as customers. Whilst this might tend to sound frightening, it really is good news. This means that patient care is a top priority and that healthcare will be relationship based as opposed to being reduced to a statistical analysis of records and management systems.
Patients Are the Bottom Line in Health Cloud
The beauty of Health Cloud by Salesforce puts patients at the centre of a management solution that is based on a relationship. Salesforce states that it is immersed in their global strength as the leading CRM corporation. Health Cloud enables providers to develop relationships that are one-on-one with their patients for healthcare decisions that are ‘smarter’ and it also enables them to connect with their patients no matter where they may be at any given moment.
Health Cloud features such things as a screen entitled ‘Today’ that is meant to alert a patient’s caregiver on issues that are important in that moment. Other features are entitled ‘Timeline’ and ‘Patient Profiles’ that offer views of easily read patient history and clinical data. Another screen is entitled ‘Private Communities’ that enables coordinators of care to more easily collaborate with others in order to assign duties over a network of caregivers. Salesforce Shield is meant to enable healthcare providers to audit, manage and then archive the relevant patient data.
Salesforce recognises that they didn’t develop this completely independently of help but rather had some of their clients help with the design. They specifically mention:
- DJO Global
- Centura Health
- Radboud University Medical Center
They also state their reliance on a comprehensive ecosystem for Health Cloud that includes:
- Deloitte Digital
- Persistent Systems
Each of which will aid in the extension of Health Cloud’s capabilities and functionalities as it is integrated with other medical devices and services.
Salesforce sees this as the first step in getting back to what healthcare is all about and that is providing personalised care to patients. It puts them back where they belong, off charts and back into the doctor –patient relationship that is so vital to patient care.