How do you create the care models of tomorrow that are barely imaginable today?

By Aloha McBride

EY Global Health Leader

Passionate about the delivery of safe, high-quality healthcare at a reasonable price. Innovator. Dog mom.

4 minute read 3 Dec 2020

Smart health is about putting the patient at the heart of health services design, and reimagining models of care to realize personalized health at scale.

In brief
  • Smart health breaks down silos, facilitating the integration and alignment of care.
  • Smart health enables real-time, data-driven intelligent decision-making about people, physical environments, and systems.

The future of health is changing rapidly, as health systems move beyond digital, beyond connected, to fully leveraging the world of artificial intelligence and smart technologies. Digital innovation is accelerating and giving rise to the care models of tomorrow — many of which can only be imagined today.

Interconnecting people, the environment and infrastructure as a unified, intelligent, data-optimized system of care is the point where health becomes smart. This enables a realm of possibilities, as health heads into the space where the virtual and the physical worlds converge. Moreover, as integrated care platforms incorporate social determinant, sensor and wearable data, along with your health information into algorithms, a personalized, smart care experience is possible. This is an important shift, because in the wider environment the world is fast becoming smart — smart cities, cars, utilities and homes leverage the internet of things (IoT), data and intelligent connected systems to support economic, social and environmental sustainability.

Smarter health systems create extensive and integrated ecosystems that support improvements in consumer and workforce experiences, better care outcomes and greater access to health care services. Health systems can increase productivity, efficiency and provide better care to more people. Ultimately, we will proactively manage population health with greater precision in the future than ever before.

Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed health systems’ reliance on in-person care delivery. The pandemic has driven the health industry to the tipping point of digital transformation. History will look back on this time as the point in which health care providers and consumers finally adopted virtual care.

In EY teams’ discussions with clients over the course of the year, we have seen the conversation shift from just understanding the technologies to being focused on how to execute and become smart – especially what it takes to create a digital-first health experience and weave digital into every aspect of an enterprise. 

Health care organizations want to know how to move from just “doing” digital to start “being” digital.

To answer the question, “As health innovation accelerates, how do you create the care models of tomorrow that are barely imaginable today?” we present five new points of view that build on this theme.

The first viewpoint introduces smart health and looks at the art of the possible as health systems become smarter around the globe. Just changing information into a digital form falls far short of achieving the end-goal of seamless and connected care. To move into the future, health systems and hospitals will need to embrace innovative technology, adopt new technical skillsets and tolerate nothing less than hyper-connectivity across their ecosystems.

The second viewpoint considers smart hospitals and answers the question, “How will you know if a hospital is smart?” Smart hospitals are hyper-connected, intelligent, human-centered, highly reliable and sustainable. While advanced technology is the key enabler, developing a smart hospital is not just a tech project. Embarking on a smart health journey requires thoughtful consideration of known challenges, strong change management and executive leadership.

We next turn the attention to data, because without good data, health systems won’t be smart. Delivering better care in the right place and at the right time needs an information architecture built around data liquidity. This viewpoint explores five trends that are shaping a data-driven foundation for the future health industry.

The fourth viewpoint in this series shifts direction to that of the smart experience. Paying attention to the customer makes sound clinical and commercial sense. What we need to deeply understand are the benefits to be gained from improving the end-to-end experience in a holistic health care journey for both consumers and the health workforce. In the smart health system of the future, a focus on improving the patient and workforce experience will be key.

And finally, we examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on virtual care adoption and the future sustainability of these new care models. Using survey data gathered from US consumers and physicians, we find that the pandemic did indeed trigger a sprint toward smarter health care. Adoption of health technologies did accelerate, and many preconceptions regarding the technical feasibility of creating a digital-first health experience disappeared. 


Smart health redefines the business of health care, shifting the delivery of care to be more patient-centric, with fewer errors and increased precision.

About this article

By Aloha McBride

EY Global Health Leader

Passionate about the delivery of safe, high-quality healthcare at a reasonable price. Innovator. Dog mom.