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Enabling a Future That Brings Better Health to More People

Power of Ideas
Enabling a Future That Brings Better Health to More People

Now more than ever, we are experiencing a heightened recognition of the growing need for high-quality health care and finding it increasingly more challenging to obtain. For instance, rural areas have few or limited options. Health-care workforce shortages are making it difficult to increase capacity and provide improved access to care. In addition, the cost of care is rising and a growing barrier for many. According to the National Academy of Medicine, a person’s ZIP code is perhaps the strongest predictor of health outcomes and life expectancy. These stress points accentuate the need to innovate—to create new solutions for how we bring better health to more people.

One such innovative force is the hospital at home platform. A growing population of patients requiring hospitalization are now benefitting from receiving high-quality, affordable hospital care in the comfort of their own home through platform-enabled organizational solutions capable of transforming health-care delivery.

Reflecting on the early days of medicine, we recall physicians regularly traveled door-to-door while treating patients in their homes. Within the last five years, the technology necessary to translate this practice has quickly evolved to enable this model of care to function in a modern, scalable way. By offering home hospital care to patients who would otherwise have been admitted to a physical hospital, we bring all the necessary services directly to the patient, and they gain the benefit of staying in the comfort of their own home as they heal. Furthermore, insights garnered from home hospital experiences are quickly resulting in further innovation and extension of these tools to a broader range of remote care applications.

We must avoid limiting beliefs while continuing to test and expand the possibilities to reach more people.

Growth and maturation in home patient care is quickly extending beyond the initial diagnoses and applications with active current efforts expanding to include cancer care. For instance, early experience with chemotherapy treatment being delivered in the home is providing valuable insights into additional opportunities for care. Health-care organizations must avoid limiting beliefs while continuing to test and expand the possibilities of what can be done to reach more people outside the traditional bricks and mortar hospital environment.

In addition, advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and generative AI are providing increasing promise to deliver new insights about disease and innovative ways to manage patient care while helping develop new, scalable knowledge, solutions, and technologies. For example, researchers have shown that an AI tool can take a routine 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) and use it to effectively detect early heart disease much earlier than with traditional tests. Furthermore, researchers then proved that the AI tool can effectively work on just a single-lead ECG, such as on a smart watch. Now, with simple technology and an AI algorithm, researchers are using that knowledge to help pregnant and postpartum women in Africa, an area that has the highest reported incidences of peripartum cardiomyopathy worldwide.

There are additional barriers to address and we, as physicians and health-care leaders, cannot leave these issues solely to policymakers and public health officials. We need to play a key role as well while engaging with the communities outside of our hospitals and clinics.

Increasing community engagement and education are key factors in bringing better health to more people. In Florida, we’re working in local communities to ensure more Black men have access to world-class clinical trials by partnering with the American Legion to establish community access points at American Legion posts throughout the state, where veterans and others can learn more about men’s health issues such as prostate cancer and access to available clinical trials.

And more can and must be done to address the challenges we face in bringing better health to more people. All of us across the greater health-care community can also contribute in a meaningful way to impact:

  • Creating equitable access: addressing language and cultural barriers; making care available in innovative ways like platform-based solutions in workplaces, schools, and other community locations; building trust with communities through outreach events, investment of time, effort, and funds in community clinics, and preventative health-care education.

  • Increasing the diversity of our staff and leadership: recruiting, developing, and retaining a diverse workforce of providers and health-care staff—including leaders who reflect the diversity of our communities.

  • Addressing social determinants of health: using technology (resource databases) and community networking to connect patients with services that can mitigate factors impacting their health, such as food insecurity, housing, transportation, and employment instability.

Dr. Charles H. Mayo once said, “If we excel in anything, it is in our capacity for translating idealism into action.” Together, we can do this and make a difference for so many.