Umesh Lakshman is currently a Solutions Architecture leader for the West and the media and entertainment vertical at Lumen Technologies. Prior to joining Lumen, he was a Sr. Sales leader at Cisco building teams that interface with the world's most influential brands. He drives technical relevancy, strategy and creates business outcomes through talented people, world-class products and innovative technology. His personal passion is to create a diverse tomorrow; inclusive and congruent to our society.
Digitization will change the face of healthcare
Key learnings as health systems transition to virtual-first
UL: 2020 and the pandemic have really accelerated the transformation of telemedicine and the healthcare industry. While the world figured out how to work remotely, healthcare figured out how to rapidly scale telehealth and do it better than before. The entire healthcare industry had to create a near-similar replacement for the doctor-patient interaction, so they could provide care during a time when we couldn’t be together. Following that, there are three trends that I would focus on:
- Evolution of the customer experience: We’ve gone from human-to-human interaction to virtual-first for anything that is not an emergency. That has led us to understand we can deliver high-quality healthcare by leveraging technology and efficient processes. Next, we have to take this same virtual-first experience and transition it to something that is more immersive, using augmented reality, virtual reality, facial recognition and machine learning.
- Scale of growth: As we move to virtual-first, infrastructure has had to shift and scale to meet that demand. That means healthcare has to have a cloud-centric strategy to scale with demand and ensure we can meet needs that are growing in a very elastic fashion.
- New opportunities: It’s time to take a closer look at your existing portfolio of services to drive efficiency in virtual care. Think about what you can deliver virtualfirst well, and compare that to other services that may be more difficult to deliver virtually, examining cost structure, supply chain and other factors. Invest in building out better virtual experiences for your strong service lines, and consider discontinuing or outsourcing virtual access in those that may be too cumbersome.
UL: Good security is people-first. Staff need to be trained and understand what good policy is, and it needs to be enforced, whether it is locking down laptops or password hygiene. It needs to be simple. Understand that the landscape has shifted and make sure you have a strong data recovery plan and that you have good security posture across settings—on-campus and in the cloud. If you’re not proactive about security by assessing often and preemptively protecting key assets, you’re opening yourself to threats and potentially breaching your patients' confidentiality and data.
UL: Right now, there is little positive connotation to the term “hospital”—it can be a stressful place for patients. So, healthcare providers are trying to shift how we feel about the hospital and healthcare in general. When I take my son to the hospital, the primary focus for the facility’s staff is to make the day feel as normal as possible, when it’s really not. It could be as simple as having access to my son’s favorite shows on Netflix, or having real-time access to an interpreter that speaks my native tongue, since English is my second language. When I talk to executives and clinicians, I’m increasingly finding that comfort is key. From check-in to discharge, we’re looking to streamline processes and make patients feel more at ease.
UL: Digitization is going to be the rocket fuel for healthcare transformation and drive a better doctor-patient interaction. As we build out better virtual experiences, we need to be user-friendly not just for the patient, but also for clinicians. We need to be focused on how to create a better, more personalized experience for everyone involved, by automating backend processes and letting clinicians do what they do best—practice medicine.
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