Although the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our attitude towards healthcare digitization, the journey ahead is still long. The pandemic was an accelerator of several trends, including shifting consumer preferences, rapidly evolving technologies, newer talent models, and clinical innovation.
In the face of these trends, as hospitals and health systems work toward adapting their businesses, a well-defined approach towards adoption of digital technologies will likely be at the core of healthcare transformation strategy.
Before we dive into the key areas of how digital transformation may impact the healthcare, it’s critical to understand about its role and the challenges.
Four Characteristics of Healthcare Digital Transformation
The digital-first model requires healthcare to move away from a system historically organized around payment rules and siloed services. We must reimagine a new model of care and payment system.
The transformed healthcare system will exhibit four key characteristics:
- Accessible. To deliver high-quality, cost-effective, and efficient care that is available to everyone in a timely manner, the healthcare industry will have to overcome shortages in care while eliminating discrepancies in accessing quality care. This requires us to adopt new technologies for telemedicine and digital healthcare.
- Distributed. As technology empowers us to augment in-person care with remote care, healthcare providers must provide the correct care at the correct location using the best means to interact with more people. Doing so will optimize care and skilled resources, thus increasing capacity.
- Resilient. Healthcare systems must be prepared to meet surges in demand resulting from disasters and health emergencies. Resilient healthcare organizations can quickly coordinate with one another and transfer care capabilities between locations—physical and/or virtual.
- Efficient. It’s fundamental that the healthcare industry free resources to focus on the most challenging cases. This can be accomplished by automating routine and predictable tasks and moving care interactions from physical healthcare facilities to virtual or digital spaces.
Challenges and Considerations of Digital Transformation in Healthcare
The digitization process may have accelerated in the past few years, but complete healthcare digital transformation is still a work-in-progress. To ensure success, you need to address the following concerns:
- Data Security
You need to use multiple devices and applications during digitization, but unfortunately, this process can create loopholes that compromise data security.
Your patient’s data needs complete confidentiality, constant monitoring and counter-remedies. Moreover, losing your patient’s health information can have serious consequences, such as discrimination, loss of reputation, and more.
- Budget Concerns
The budgeting process in digital transformation is far better than the traditional process, as digitization offers more scale and profit as compared to the conventional approach.
- Siloed Technology Stack
A healthcare organization with a siloed tech stack, compromises patient experience and internal communication. Complete digitization is only possible when you transfer this thought to every member.
- Digital patient experience
While designing digital services such as applications for your patients, you must ensure that they are patient-friendly. By understanding your target patients, you can create digital services which are easy to use by anyone.
Key Areas of How Digital Transformation Impacts Healthcare
What profits can medical institutions get from digital transformation in healthcare?
- Optimized workflow – digital healthcare can eliminate the paperwork, reduce the time needed for the patient examination and enable easier, more convenient access to accurate patient health data.
- Better interaction with clients – provides effective online communication with patients via chats and video calls.
- Reduces the costs – the processes automation allows providing more cost-effective services and cuts off the spendings required in traditional healthcare services.
- Advanced communication with medical staff – used for more accurate patient diagnosis, faster data exchange, and other internal communication.
And what patients can get with the digital healthcare solutions implementation?
- Better, more personalized healthcare services – the use of digital healthcare enables more accurate health diagnoses and more effective treatment as well.
- Easier access to personal health records – patients can track and manage personal health data and receive a detailed analysis of their health metrics online.
- More convenient appointment scheduling – enables choosing the most convenient date for visit and planning the time ahead.
- Better communication with doctors online – get the professional health services online via chatting or video calls, receive the detailed prescriptions and treatment strategy on the email or on their personal portal page.
How Technology is Driving Digital Transformation In Healthcare: Use Cases
Key trends of digital transformation in healthcare like artificial intelligence (AI) and telehealth are reshaping patient interaction, disease management, data sharing, staff productivity, and more.
Here’s how different tools can contribute towards digital transformation in healthcare organizations:
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial Intelligence simplifies the lives of doctors, patients and hospital admins by doing tasks that are usually done by humans at a fraction of cost and in less time.
AI provides a number of advantages over clinical decision-making and traditional analytics. Learning algorithms can become more accurate and precise when they interact with training data. It allows humans to gain unprecedented insights into care processes, treatment variability, patient outcomes and diagnostics.
Healthcare virtual assistants: Critical for improving the interaction with clients, providing the critical information in real-time, and optimizing the internal workflow (automated appointment scheduling, essential data updates, and more. Additionally, the patients can get instant feedback about the most common questions asked, which reduces the workload of medical staff.
Automating repetitive processes: AI technology is poised to automate repetitive tasks of the healthcare industry, setting administrators free to work on higher-level ones. From eligibility checks to data migrations and non-judicial claims, everything can be automated so that staffers can emphasize on offering better patient service.Olive, one of the AI-as-a-service tools can be integrated easily into a hospital’s existing software, removing the need for expensive downtimes or integrations.
2. Telehealth & Virtual Check Ins
Virtual care existed long before Covid-19. However, the global lockdowns catalyzed huge uptakes in telemedicine adoption. During the pandemic, the use of telemedicine skyrocketed as the technology helped eliminate unwanted contacts while allowing patients to manage their conditions. As many as 30% of U.S. adults claimed their intent to use telemedicine in the early months of 2020.
Telemedicine is all about inclusivity and convenience — more patients have the opportunity to access health-related care, including disabled people and those living in remote areas.
3. IoT and Wearables
The global IoT market size in the healthcare industry is to grow from $72.5 billion in 2020 to $188.2 billion by 2025.
IoT is enabling wearable devices to monitor the real-time health status of any individual. It has the potential to monitor the crucial vitals and send alerts to the person who is wearing it and caretakers.
- IoT for Patients
Devices such as fitness bands and wirelessly connected heart rate monitoring cuffs provide patients access to personalized attention. IoT devices are used to remind doctor appointments, calorie count, number of steps taken in a day, blood pressure, heart rate and much more.IoT enables real-time remote monitoring and is beneficial for elderly patients.
- IoT for Hospitals and Clinics
Apart from tracking patients’ health, IoT devices can be used in many other areas in hospitals. IoT devices embedded with sensors are used for monitoring the real-time location of medical equipment, including nebulizers, wheelchairs, oxygen pumps and other equipment.Hospitals also have to deal with the spread of infection that is the primary concern for them.
Think about on-demand as eliminating hassle for your patient to locate a nearby hospital or clinic in an emergency. An on-demand application on the patient’s mobile phone will be a savior for them as this little device is all they need for getting necessary on-demand care.
Besides patient convenience, the on-demand healthcare services will also reduce the paperwork. The digital tools will automatically collect information that can be accessed and transmitted via EHRs.
Extremely high usage of the on-demand healthcare services will pave the way for enormous success for the digital transformation of your care facility.
Big Data in Healthcare
Big Data is transforming the way we analyze, leverage and manage data in every industry. Healthcare is one of the promising industries where it can be implemented to avoid preventable diseases, enhance the quality of life, reduce treatment costs and forecast outbreaks of epidemics.
Health professionals can collect a massive amount of data and find the best strategies to use the data. Using Big Data in Healthcare can have positive and life-saving outcomes.
With emerging technologies, it has become easier to not only collect essential healthcare data but also convert it into valuable insights to provide better care. Using data-driven insights, health professionals can predict and solve an issue before it gets late.
Let’s understand how big data can be used in healthcare and what benefits it provides.
- Patients prediction for improved staffing
Healthcare shift managers usually face an issue of how many people they should put on staff at any specific time. If a manager keeps too many workers, you may have the risk of unwanted labor costs and resources. On the other side, having too few workers can also result in poor customer service outcomes that can be riskier for the patient’s health.Big Data can solve this issue.
- Real-time Alerting
Real-time alerting is also one of the crucial examples of big data analytics in the healthcare industry. Hospitals use Clinical Decision Support Software to analyze medical data on the spot and provide health practitioners with advice to help them make informed decisions.
- Informed Strategic Planning using Health Data
Big data in healthcare facilitates strategic planning. Healthcare managers can analyze the results of patients’ checkups in various demographics groups. Also, they can find out factors that discourage people from taking up treatment.
- Preventing Human Errors
Many times, it has been found that the professionals either tend to dispatch a different medication or prescribe a wrong medicine by mistake. Big data can be used to reduce such errors by analyzing prescribed medicine and user data.Prescription data collected from different medical professionals can be monitored using the big data healthcare tool.
The Impact of Technology in Healthcare Transformation
Healthcare digital transformation is a chance for delivering better solutions and treatment to patients, but with many advantages come inevitable challenges. Security and privacy concerns regarding patient data and the technology itself hindered access to medical data, development restricted by financial restrictions, etc. The impact of technology in healthcare will be more and more noticeable and common, as future trends become reality.
The future is inseparably linked with digital healthcare technologies, as we entered the era of rapid changes fueled by the newest inventions and discoveries. While some may use technology as a way of cutting corners, the best approach is to think holistically and consider digital solutions as the path to improving the quality of care