Participatory health is a simple concept with powerful implications. It is firmly grounded in patient engagement and patient-centered care. The health system of the future will be consumer-centric, wellnessoriented, care everywhere and digitally connected. Participatory health can reshape the demand for health care by giving people the right tools to manage their health, lifestyle choices and chronic conditions in vastly different ways. Participatory health can ultimately drive a healthier population through prevention and wellness. Emerging technologies including patient engagement tools, virtual care, smart homes and artificial intelligence (AI)-powered analytics underpin this model. The challenge for health organizations is to create new models of care that mitigate risk and control costs while, at the same time, delivering best-practice outcomes and an exemplary consumer-patient experience

If healthcare organizations want to succeed in an environment of digital transformation, they must bring about participatory health.

That shift will require providers to be grounded in patient engagement and patient-centered care—by being “on-demand, connected and data-driven.”

That’s the contention of a new report from the American Hospital Association’s Center for Health Innovation, and EY, which examines how digital health technologies are shifting the care location to anywhere, anytime and the care model to preventive, personalized and participatory.

“To avoid being on the wrong side of this emerging and disruptive trend, providers will need an appetite for ambitious transformation and the will to tackle hard choices around the legacy organization—where to divest, revitalize or pursue innovation,” according to the report.

Future health systems will be digital, personalized and population-focused, state the authors, and to thrive they must “deeply” understand the transformative impact of digital health technologies.

“Virtual health, or the use of technologies such as apps, wearable and environmental sensors, video and chat platforms, is becoming integral to the health system,” finds the report. “Novel sources of data and information support care delivery outside of traditional health settings including anywhere anytime care in the home and on the go.”

In addition, the authors say “hospitals leveraging smart technologies to monitor patients at home is a natural step toward anywhere, anytime care.”

At the same time, they make the case that hospitals of the future must be “smart” by leveraging analytics, artificial intelligence and robotic process automation to “tame the wave of user-generated and clinical data.”

The authors also point out that the role of the physician in the future will continue to evolve to one of a “data-driven conductor” in which data will be critical for identifying at-risk populations and targeting them with effective treatments.

“The future for healthcare lies in bold changes in organizational models as technologies mature, disruptive solutions succeed and health systems become participatory and smart,” concludes the report. “Digital health technologies offer the tools to harvest the power of disruption, but it takes courage to change to realize the value.”

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