Understanding the DNA of DARQ

New technologies are catalysts for change, offering extraordinary new capabilities when applied appropriately. The next set of emerging technologies—distributed ledger technology (DLT), artificial intelligence (AI), extended reality (XR) and quantum computing—can spark a step change that allows businesses to reimagine entire industries.

Years ago, social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) technologies emerged, allowing businesses to understand their partners and consumers at unprecedented depth. Healthcare enterprises are adopting SMAC as part of their digital transformations, but they have not come as far in adoption maturity as other industries. The adoption of SMAC in healthcare also varies by industry sector. Payers have embraced SMAC to a greater degree than providers over the past decade. A majority of providers are just beginning the journey as they are in early stages of their digital transformations.

The imperative has become stronger for healthcare organisations to adopt technologies that create a digital foundation for the future. Accenture’s Disruptability Index, which analyses disruption across 20 industries, puts healthcare among the most vulnerable to future disruption.1 Those most vulnerable to disruption are under pressure to scale new technologies. Some are mastering the new as part of their core business while others are experimenting to learn how these technologies can deliver new sources of value. The most successful healthcare organisations will be those that recognise change is in motion.2 While driving the use of SMAC technologies to maturity in their application to healthcare, they will be thinking about—and planning for—the future impact of DARQ technology on their enterprises.

DARQ technologies and some of the capabilities they enable
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Seeing into the DARQ

DARQ technologies are poised to become the foundation for next-generation products and services. Healthcare leaders in the DARQ-driven future will be prepared to combine and exploit those competencies as the technologies reach enterprise-level maturity.

Even before DARQ technologies have reached full maturity, healthcare enterprises can see the value on the horizon. Whether lowering the cost of care, improving labor productivity or enabling better experiences for consumers and partners, regardless of training or intent, DARQ potential runs deep. To take advantage of the transformational new capabilities that DARQ technologies will offer, payers and providers must explore the possibilities now:

Even before DARQ technologies have reached full maturity, healthcare enterprises can see the value on the horizon.

DLT – In the future, distributed ledger technology, such as blockchain, will be an important part of healthcare payments and identity management. Healthcare enterprises can reduce waste, save costs and increase quality of care by using DLT to create a trusted set of data so that people can act on the information rather than having to go back to the source of truth to verify its authenticity. DLT shows great promise for qualifying individuals for insurance benefits, identifying patient payment obligations and credentialing providers, rather than clinicians having to go through a similar process across multiple care settings. The Professional Credentials Exchange (ProCredEx) is a distributed ledger programme that cuts—for providers and organisations vetting providers—the time, cost and complexity associated with the credentialing process.3 The Synaptic Health Alliance intends to use DLT to create a cooperatively owned provider data exchange to collect and share changes to provider data, starting with demographics.

AI – When asked to rank which of the DARQ technologies will have the greatest impact on their organisation over the next three years, 41 percent of healthcare executives ranked AI number one. AI has perhaps the greatest number of emerging use cases in healthcare. The constellation of artificial intelligence technologies is already having tremendous impact on labor, a substantial line item in healthcare. AI is used in contact centers, for payment activities, medical chart reviews and it can help patients take part in self-service.

Healthcare organisations are using the full collection of AI technologies to change how we interact with doctors. AI will augment diagnoses—it can already identify diseases based on facial features,4 retina scans, X-rays and speech—and it can even help patients to self-diagnose before they walk through the doors of the doctor’s office.

Froedtert Health and the Medical College of Wisconsin partnered with Buoy to deliver an interactive digital tool that allows users to enter their symptoms and receive—in real time—personalised analysis and recommendations for care options. Buoy uses an algorithm to listen and calculate input, and it gets smarter as more people use the tool.5

XR allows machines to operate at the cognitive level of humans and allows people to interact naturally with technology.

XR – Interestingly, extended reality shows the highest adoption of DARQ technologies with 38 percent of healthcare organisations having adopted XR across one or more business units. XR allows machines to operate cognitively, as humans do, and it allows people to interact naturally with technology. The technology makes immersive experiences commonplace and it solves for time and distance, making each factor less relevant.

Cedars-Sinai is using XR for pain management. By using XR to teach patients how to better cope with pain through breathing techniques and positive thinking, they were able to reduce pain by 24 percent after 10 minutes.6 Cleveland Clinic and Zygote Medical Education are using virtual reality to move clinical anatomy curriculum out of the cadaver lab and into a virtual environment. Students can use their mobile devices to access precise 3D models of anatomy and connect with peers all over the world.7

Quantum – Healthcare organisations will be making quantum leaps in the future, using the technology to crunch complex data sets, such as DNA data, to enable more personalised medicine and interactions. For instance, quantum tech gurus at Accenture and 1QBit collaborated with biotechnology innovator Biogen to develop a first-of-its-kind quantum-enabled molecular comparison application that could significantly improve advanced molecular design to speed up drug discovery for complex neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

All four DARQ technologies are, or will be, powerful on their own. But as they advance, they will push each other forward further. Already, early pairings of DARQ technologies reveal remarkable combinatorial effects for healthcare.


of healthcare executives are currently experimenting with one or more DARQ technologies.


of healthcare executives believe the combination of DARQ technologies will have a “transformational” or “extensive” impact on their organisation over the next three years.

AI improves outcomes

The Symphony Post-Acute Network incorporated AI and machine learning to improve care for its 80,000 patients, using a cloud-based AI engine to drive predictions and recommendations based on its existing patient data.8 The resulting insights led to a drop in readmission rates from 21 percent to less than 19 percent—a huge reduction in a key success metric in healthcare, at a cost savings of more than $13,000 per patient.9

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1 Disruptability Index, Accenture, February 26, 2018; Disruptability Index

2 ”Healthcare CSOs Unprepared as Disruption Surges;” Accenture, June 8, 2018; Healthcare CSOs Unprepared as Disruption Surges

3 “How ProCredEx is Leveraging Blockchain to Speed up Credentialing;” MobiHealth News, December 13, 2018, How ProCredEx is Leveraging Blockchain to Speed up Credentialing

4 “This AI Identifies Genetic Disorders by Looking at Face Shape;” Futurism; January 8, 2019; This AI Identifies Genetic Disorders by Looking at Face Shape

5 “Froedtert & MCW health network introduces online symptom checker;” Froedtert website; March 9, 2018; Froedtert & MCW health network introduces online symptom checker

6 “VR in Healthcare is Changing the Patient Care Game;” SearchHealthIT, January 2019; VR in Healthcare is Changing the Patient Care Game

7 “Cleveland Clinic Creates E-Anatomy with Virtual Reality;” Cleveland Clinic news release, August 23, 2018; Cleveland Clinic Creates E-Anatomy with Virtual Reality

8 “New AI Tools Make BI Smarter — and More Useful;” CIO, April 18, 2018; New AI Tools Make BI Smarter — and More Useful

9 “State of Artificial Intelligence for Enterprises;” Teradata, October 11, 2017; State of Artificial Intelligence for Enterprises

Kaveh Safavi

Senior Managing Director – Consulting, Global Health

Brian Kalis

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy Lead, Health

Andrew Thompson

Managing Director – Global Cloud First Industry and Function Lead


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