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February 28, 2018
FOR EFFECTIVE PUBLIC HEALTHCARE, GO BEYOND HEALTHCARE!
By: Ulla Kuukka

I’ve concluded that the future of public healthcare goes beyond healthcare. How so? “Population wellbeing management” describes a world where technology supports and guides both care givers and citizens. As Dr. Kaveh Safavi has pointed out, AI and citizen self-care will help meet the major healthcare challenges of our day: limited funding, need for improved access, effectiveness and workforce shortages—all while meeting ever increasing patient expectations. Even vendors are changing their nomenclature from Electronic Health Record to things like “Comprehensive Health Record.”


Population Wellbeing Management – the Proactive Approach

A holistic view of citizens’ wellbeing requires insight into their health and social determinants1, so that comprehensive care plans—proactive and reactive interventions—can be defined, offered and monitored. Insight requires data, and data needs to be accessible and available. Structured data and sufficient infrastructure is a prerequisite for data- and insight-driven care, but many health and social care organisations still lack this2.


Building blocks

Social and health care organisations need the correct building blocks before using AI and self-care solutions to enable better care, access and population health offerings. Once in place, automated segmentation (to identify citizens at risk by combing social and health data) can be developed to enable population health management.

In a Finnish example, a middle-aged man is suffering from chronic back pain which results in difficulties at work. Upon digging deeper, it is found that the man medicates himself with alcohol to ease the back pain. This causes depression and difficulties with family, and at work. Soon the man unable to work, and is put on early disability—years before he would normally retire. This is an unnecessary cost to society, and would cause unimaginable anxiety to the man and his family. What can AI, self-care and the coolest new innovations do for him and his family?


Single Care Continuum

A care coordinator at a clinic could easily find citizens most at risk and, with modern EMR and AI in use, propose early and optimal preventative measures. Many studies have shown that use of virtual reality and web-based self-service mental therapies are as or more effective than physical care3. Integrating social and health care into one care continuum, using digital technology, will provide a holistic citizen view and enable predictive and targeted interactions to keep citizens happy and healthy – outside of care facilities and for far less.


1 http://www.who.int/social_determinants/sdh_definition/en/
2 http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/healthcare-providers-tackle-top-three-population-health-challenges
3 https://www.forbes.com/sites/charliefink/2017/10/25/vr-brings-dramatic-change-to-mental-health-care/#1b3856bf4361, http://www.bmj.com/content/352/bmj.i241

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