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The Virtual “Digital Software” Patient Advocate

Carl Kennedy
Managing Director, Outcomes Delivery

Carl Kennedy

GE Healthcare

Digital Software Programs are Enabling Next Level Patient Outcomes and Safety

Emergence of Digital Software Programs

With the dawn of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) there was the notion that “going digital” would immediately translate into some sort of positive outcome. Whether this was improved access to data, the ability to customize treatment plans or a myriad number of beliefs that the EMR would solve for in healthcare. Unfortunately, many of these realizations are just now coming to life after more than 30 years of EMR development – and not through the EMR but comprehensive digital software programs.

Individual components within the healthcare ecosystem have created vertical columns of siloed information and data. It has taken the invention of standalone and horizontal programs to enable access to what the industry has been searching for. The idea of taking analog operations and digitizing them is officially upon us. The desire is now matched by the technology. The primary benefactors include both clinicians and patients. Until recently, the digital revolution spawned individual systems that traditionally worked in silos. Recent advances in technology including cloud infrastructures are enabling more complex systems to work in synchrony. These advances include moving away from the physical onsite deployments to
1) virtual deployments,
2) cloud deployments,
3) blended virtual and cloud deployments. 
These advances are in turn creating the ability to bring superior software patient advocates as well as enablers to life for clinical teams.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Simple computing power has not been enough to move the mark in bringing the desired capabilities to life. Imagine a world in which the technology worked for clinicians and not against them. Imagine a world in which a patient always had an advocate ensuring their health. With the computing power and advanced software – these capabilities have come to life that enable clinicians to have actionable information, timelier, in a customized fashion based on industry best practice than were ever known before. Welcome to the world in which each patient has a digital software advocate.

The incorporation of artificial intelligence and machine learning to software medical devices promises exciting advances for the future. While the EMR aspires to correlate information, it is these horizontal technologies that are enabling systemic access to native data of all components around the patient. This digital information extends from the EMR to devices, tests and peripheral information. In effect, a mural of each patient is constantly being updated so that clinicians know the specific condition of their patients and the patient can rest knowing that a digital software advocate is always looking over them.

Clinical Surveillance

Resources in every organization are at some point finite. There are only so many clinicians that can be brought to bear. Likewise, there are only so many beds for patients to occupy. Understanding resourcing in hospitals has been a long journey of attempting to pair the right level of care with the patient in need – at a specific time in the healthcare journey.

Utilizing a next generation digital software advocate, every patient can be visualized in real time with key indicators of their current as well as predicted state. This horizontal as well as longitudinal view promotes that ability of a force multiplier with clinicians and ultimate scalability. Paired with disease state pathway bundles, the clinical impact could be multiplied and compounded towards better outcomes, more timely location to the appropriate level of care and patient safety.

Clinical Scalability

Physical presence is no longer a mitigating factor in receiving care input [consultation]. For decades, there has been a buildup of specialized medical professionals in select medical institutions across the globe. This expertise can now be brought to patients anywhere, anytime within a hospital’s secure network. Pairing this human knowledge with the digital software program enables clinicians to impact far more patients and in a more important way.

Expertise can be utilized appropriately in the digital software ecosystem and load balanced based on the needs at any given moment. Instead of having onsite resources waiting for the next case, the digital software advocate can be bringing patients to the clinicians and ensuring that they are aware of precipitating events that may adversely impact a patient. Welcome to the world of the Virtual Patient Advocate – always looking out for patients and ensuring clinicians have the information they need to better outcomes and ensure safety.


While patients may not be able to choose their healthcare advocate or if they will even have access to one, healthcare organizations have a unique opportunity to ensure that their ecosystem is working for them and their patients. In an era of digital software advances, hospitals should enable clinicians to impact more patients, timelier, from anywhere through the Virtual Patient Advocate to the forefront.