Transforming health care with technology

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EY’s Gary Howe explains how smart mobile technology, when applied with social networking, cloud computing and big data analytics, is poised to transform global health care.

Smart mobility is at the center of an information technology-enabled vision of health care’s future.

In the field of health care, policy-makers and administrators around the world are seeking to reduce spending, increase access and improve outcomes amid unsustainable costs, growing populations and a global epidemic of chronic diseases.

Smart mobile technology can help. Advances in cloud computing, social networks and big data analytics have placed smart mobility at the center of an information technology-enabled vision of health care’s future.

We describe how this future is unfolding for four key groups: patients, physicians, providers (e.g. public or private hospitals) and payers (e.g. government or private insurers).

Patients: mobile empowerment

  • Social networking helps consumers participate in health-related discussions online, tapping into peer-group knowledge
  • Cloud computing enables delivery of “heavyweight” health care services and information to lightweight mobile devices, as well as the secure storage of personal patient information
  • Big data enables individualized health care services and targeted wellness and prevention programs

Patients need not be concerned about legal liability, regulatory compliance and IT acquisition, but still have significant privacy concerns around their medical information.

Physicians: rapid adoption

  • Smart mobility delivers real-time, anytime, anywhere access to patient information and medical databases
  • Social networking enables physician-to-physician collaboration and provides a rapid learning environment
  • Cloud computing is a platform for collaboration
  • Big data analytics support better patient-based outcomes using diagnostic decision-support information delivered via mobile devices

These factors are helping drive a rapid uptake of mobile devices among doctors. However, concerns about security, privacy and liability remain inhibitors, while incompatibility of data hinders emerging mobile collaboration apps.

Providers: expanding footprint

  • Smart mobility enables providers to treat patients at home and reach remote and underserved communities
  • Social networking gives them the opportunity to establish real-time interactive communications to engage with patients
  • Cloud computing allows providers to network with other hospitals
  • Big data analytics helps them understand behavior patterns in patient populations

Factors such as strong consumer and physician demand, health care providers’ own experiences and government incentives are driving the increased adoption of mobile technology.

Payers: prodigious experimentation

  • Smart mobility can help lower administrative and facility costs
  • Social networks can be used to encourage healthier lifestyles
  • Cloud computing provides a platform for secure data sharing
  • Big data analytics yields predictive modeling of best treatment practices

Significant hurdles remain, such as incentive structures and information technology infrastructures.

Future perspective: meeting challenges

While no panacea, health information technology is increasingly seen as a way to address health care challenges.

Pilots are beginning to show how, with the right policies, incentives and investments, the public and private sectors can work together to help solve one of society’s biggest challenges. 

Pilots are beginning to show how, with the right policies, incentives and investments, the public and private sectors can work together to help solve one of society’s biggest challenges. 


For more information, read mHealth: mobile technology poised to enable a new era in health care.



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