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Designing future health care through innovation

Innovations like telehealth and virtual visits are changing the care experience

In any business including health care, true innovators must be willing to try new things and learn from their successes — and failures — to build and position their organization for growth.

Innovation has become a major focus as health care organizations seek new ways to ensure quality and patient safety, improve access to care, increase efficiency, eliminate waste, lower costs and improve patient outcomes.

Disruptive versus incremental innovation

Health care innovations range from small changes that improve methods to major shifts that affect the entire industry.

Smaller change, or incremental innovation, refers to minor improvements made to an organization’s existing services or processes to improve their core business.

Disruptive change is when business models are fundamentally challenged, changed or reinvented. It often produces new products or services that are less expensive, simpler and more convenient. Recent health care examples include:

  • Retail primary care clinics, staffed by nurses and nurse practitioners in pharmacies and grocery stores
  • Home monitoring devices for people with diseases such as diabetes
  • Oral chemotherapy regimens

Innovation driving health and wellness

Both incremental and disruptive innovations are improving the patient experience and helping consumers on their wellness journey at Advocate Aurora Health, one of the 10 largest not-for-profit, integrated health systems in the United States. Technology-based innovations such as wearable sensors, mobile computing technologies and remote patient management systems are used in various health care settings to promote health and wellness.

Advocate Aurora entrepreneurs have developed innovations that are changing the care experience. These include offering 24/7 remote access to care providers through telehealth and virtual visits and using technology to support patient engagement and self-management of health.

For example, when someone feels ill and is weighing whether to seek medical care, a digital concierge can help them make that decision. A chatbot called Symptom Checker — powered by artificial intelligence (AI) — provides them with possible symptom causes and suggested options for the most appropriate level of care, right in the palm of their hands.

Symptom Checker uses AI to understand natural language and the user’s intent. If the user types “I have a fever,” the bot will ask appropriate follow-up questions about the patient’s symptoms. Symptom Checker then offers possible causes and suggests an appropriate treatment venue, such as going to urgent care, seeing a primary care provider or simply staying home to rest. If the user decides to seek medical care, the person can click through to reserve a place in line at an Advocate Aurora urgent care location.

Offering the right care, in the right place, at the right time

Innovation promises meaningful, continuous change in areas such as:

  • Preventative care in population health, directing resources to those who are well, along with treating those requiring medical intervention.
  • Personalized, targeted treatments tailored to a patient’s specific genetic profile.

Greater innovation will be driven by the need to address:

  • Our aging population, who require more health care resources.
  • A shortage of key care providers, especially in primary care in certain geographical areas.
  • Increasing prevalence of diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases.
  • Pressures to reduce costs while improving patient safety and outcomes.

Technology will increasingly play an important role in innovation, creating new business opportunities. Organizations, like Advocate Aurora, that continue to nurture a culture of innovation — by fully understanding the patient experience and engaging both consumers and team members — can transform health care.

Want to explore ways to bring Advocate Aurora’s innovations to your organization, improving your employees’ health and well-being while lowering your medical costs? Visit Advocate Aurora’s Employer Solutions for a solution customized to your company that could include employer clinics, wellness, occupational health, employee assistance programs (EAP), executive health programs and more.

Advocate Aurora Health is one of the 10 largest not-for-profit, integrated health systems in the United States and a leading Midwest employer with more than 70,000 employees and the region’s largest employed medical staff and home health organization. The system serves nearly 3 million patients annually in Illinois and Wisconsin.

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