The healthcare industry is rife with examples of where technology advances have led to improved diagnoses and treatments that have saved lives and improved society’s overall condition. Except in one area — customer service.

Despite all the life-saving advances we’ve witnessed, visiting a doctor or hospital is still a chore for many people. You know you’re often in for a good, long wait; you may be subjected to repeated questions; and you’ll probably leave with a laundry list of unanswered questions of your own.

Or maybe not. Innovations in outcome-oriented, patient-centered healthcare are finally beginning to deliver benefits to healthcare consumers directly. And if recent market announcements come to fruition, we’re at the threshold of a major disruption (for the better) in how healthcare services are delivered.

As George Mathew, MD, writes in a DXC Technology report entitled “Emergence of the ‘Smart Hospital’ and beyond: What’s next for providers?” hospital care is rapidly moving out of large, centralized facilities and into the home.

IT innovations over the past few decades have focused on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of patient record maintenance, scheduling and other back-office processes. Now, as use of electronic health records becomes more widespread, healthcare providers are beginning to identify outward-looking opportunities that create new revenue and have more direct patient benefits.

As Mathew notes, the concept of the Smart Hospital encompasses multiple elements that touch patients directly, including an improved patient experience with more self-direction and self-selection. It will foster more patient-provider collaboration that will help patients feel more connected to their treatment regimen, more likely to follow it and, as a result, more likely to benefit. A raft of connected smart devices is enabling a boom in home care and monitoring that brings the hospital into the home. That will reduce the frequency of patient visits, which benefits at-home patients as well as those who still need an in-person visit.

What’s next portends to be truly revolutionary, not just because of continuing medical advances, but also because fundamental new business models are coming to healthcare that will radically change services and how they are rendered. For example, in recent news:

  • Amazon has announced a joint venture with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway to create an organization “free from profit-making incentives” to manage employee health and satisfaction.
  • Apple recently announced it will hire doctors to provide healthcare to the Apple employee population. This, in combination with its new Health Records app, enables a better patient experience in healthcare.
  • Verily, the healthcare and life sciences arm of Alphabet (parent of Google), is offering to enter population health or care management insurance — by enabling a payer (government, employer or private insurance) to reduce costs and assume some of the financial risk.

Announcements by these new players put them at odds with traditional providers. But if the past is any guide, both groups will find beneficial reasons to work together — not the least of which is to put patients at the center of the services they deliver.

For the full report, go here.