At Infosys, our focus on Healthcare is aimed at radical progress in affordability, wellness, and patient-centricity. We believe technology is a catalyst for game-changing healthcare solutions. In this blog, we discuss challenges, ideas, innovations, and solutions for the healthcare economy.

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June 28, 2013

Social Media Adoption in Health Insurance Industry - Blog 3

In the previous blog (Social Media Adoption in Health Insurance Industry - Blog 2), we had discussed the various challenges that are preventing the payors from a widespread adoption of social media.
In this current blog, we will focus on how to address those challenges. Following are few of the key solution approaches that can be thought of.
• Adoption of Enterprise Social Media policy
• Right selection of tools or packages
• Implementation and Integration with existing capability
• Social Media Risk Management
We will elaborate, to start with the discussion, on the importance and criticality of an enterprise social media policy in this blog.

Framing the enterprise social media policy -

It is critical to establish policies, structures and ownership at the organizational level to manage usage of social media more effectively.  At some point after the organization starts using social media, the required team can be established to develop policies, guidelines, standards for the organization.
The laws (such as HIPAA) published by the regulatory authorities in healthcare industries will provide crtitical inputs to the creation  of the corporate social media policy of an organization. We will need to involve the various stakeholders in the healthcare value chain who will have specific view points and will form important parts of the the policy.

Sales  and New Business - The enterprise social media policy dictates what can be advertised as far as the Insurance Organization's product and plans are concerned.

Underwriting - The insurers need to come up with a clear policy guideline restricting/enabling underwriters /agents capture the member data  in the social netwroking sites as appropriate.

Claims Investigation - Insurers need to be cautious in coming up with an ethical approach in accessing the data present in the public domain for claims investigation.

Customer Service - The customer service department uses social media (such as facebook) and encourages the members to narrate the good service experiences. The corporate social media policy dictates who can represent the organizations and how to respond to replies from the members. 

Marketing - The policy establishes a formal review process before any publication in the social media. Social media is one of key marketing and communcation strategies which is being increasingly adopted by the insurers and agencies. The corporate social media policy dictates the process keeping in view the various regulatory rules.

Application of augmented reality to Healthcare

Augmented reality has always held the fascination of science fiction writers and found its implementation in many sci-fi novels, comics and movies, though quite a bit of that is reality today. Game consoles like the Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, and Microsoft Xbox have hardware which provides an augmented reality dimension to virtual gaming. Mobile phones come equipped with various augmented reality apps such as Layar and Wikitude that can direct you to your favourite coffee shop or take you on a guided tour an unknown city. Now, with the advent of wearable computing devices, such as the Google Glasses, its usage will become as common as smart phones. Discussed below are some views on how healthcare industry can leverage augmented reality to improve the services.

Remote Patient Monitoring

A study was recently carried out at Johns Hopkins and The University of Rochester Medical Center with 20 Parkinson's disease patients.It was noted that the outcome of a video conference between physicians and patients, helped the physicians diagnose the patients' symptoms accurately. The study showed that results of the virtual diagnosis of the patients were comparable to in-person diagnosis. In the above scenario, the physicians looking for typical symptoms exhibited by a Parkinson's patient were not inconvenienced by the lack of multiple viewing angles. Considering a case where a physician needs multiple angles of viewing of the physical manifestation of a patient's symptoms, video conferencing can be inconvenient. Wearing a pair of augmented reality glasses, the video stream broadcasted to the physician will be a lot more detailed. This experience shall be equivalent of having the patient "sitting right in front" of them.

Let us take the example of a patient using a pair of Google glasses. She contacts a physician at a different location and transmits all that she sees to the doctor who can view this video on his touch screen tablet. At any point of time if the physician spots something of interest in his video feed, he can choose to capture that point as an image, magnify it and use it in ways limited only by his imagination. Going a step further, the image can be referenced by an image processing application which can help identify rashes, growths or any other visible symptom and correlate them with possible matches for diseases. The glasses when integrated with portable health monitoring devices, like heart rate monitors, blood pressure machines etc., can give a complete overview of the patient's health status to the consulting physician. This provides a rich user experience for the physician which would enable high quality delivery of healthcare services.

Care Management
Patients under care management are frequently visited by care providers who register the vitals of the patient and report back on their health status.  Currently, care providers register the vitals in paper forms, and then the data is manually fed into the system. Doing so involves a lot of overhead and there is always a risk of misplacing the forms too. This issue can be addressed by moving the system to a mobility platform. The data collected during these interactions can be synchronized with secure cloud storage or could be relayed back in real-time.

Let us examine how augmented reality glasses can improve this entire process. A pair of augmented reality glasses can be synchronized with the care provider's calendar and will prompt them on their appointments. They can extend maps feature's and provide "turn-by-turn" directions on how to reach the patients house. They can record the entire interaction process between the patient and the care provider, and since they are wearable devices, they will not obstruct the care provider either. Furthermore, in-case the care provider feels an immediate need to get a consultation from a physician, she can leverage the connectivity features of such devices. With more players bound to enter the market in manufacturing augmented reality glasses, the cost of such devices would be comparable to tablet computers.

Wellness and Fitness Management
In earlier blogs, I have stressed on the importance of mobility and social media integration to wellness management. The basis of augmented reality lies on leveraging the best of mobile and social media platforms. Developing fitness management applications for augmented realty glasses will result in a paradigm shift in how users interact with these applications. You could be projected with live data like heart rate, and distance run over your glasses allowing you to get interactive with the whole process.
Citing an example from my daily activities, I am someone who likes to jog at a particular pace to control my heart rate for a specific type of workout regime, like cardio, fat-burn, etc. Having the vitals data projected within my field of vision helps me focus on the street instead of looking into my band/watch which can be risky when I am on the road.

The above mentioned examples are only a few ways in which augmented reality devices can help elevate the level of healthcare services provided. The healthcare industry is only now beginning to reap the benefits of smartphones. Augmented reality is the next big thing in the mobility sphere and all healthcare stakeholders would have an advantage in incorporating it in their technology roadmap.