As a result of the digital transformation, businesses that operate globally in a variety of industries have recently seen their business models evolve. One of the industries where digital transformation has assumed a particularly prominent role is the healthcare sector, and hospitals in particular. Especially, the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic was a major impetus for hospitals to go through a digital revolution. Therefore, what is the promise of digital transformation in healthcare? Let’s explore its benefits and challenges in more detail via this article.
What is Digital Transformation in Healthcare?
The concept of digital transformation is defined as the shift from communication structures using non-digital tools to communication structures using digital tools. To convert information from paper to digital formats, digital transformation is not the only technical activity that must be undertaken; it also necessitates a socio-technical shift in the way that digital tools are used.
The digital transformation in healthcare includes a variety of technologies. These technological advancements give medical practitioners the ability to use modular digital solutions to enhance patient experiences, find new medications, streamline processes, and increase access to on-demand treatment.
Some of the most striking examples of digitalization in the healthcare sector include the use of electronic health records, online appointments, telemedicine, SaMD (Software as a Medical Device), and AI-powered medical devices.
With the use of these technologies, patients may now make decisions about their treatment plans, connect with medical professionals, and share information with suppliers.
Use Cases of Digital Healthcare Solutions
Digital transformation in healthcare makes an in-depth analysis of how the medical departments diagnose, monitor, and manage patient health. Its main objective is to streamline the key workflow procedures and regulatory requirements, enhance patient care while cutting costs. Let's now look at how digital healthcare is now employed in medicine with this in mind.
Automation is the most effective tool available to the healthcare sector. It is important to note that its adoption is quite advantageous for drug producers, particularly with regard to production safety. Technologies make it possible to examine materials with great accuracy. Microbiological studies can benefit from the use of automation algorithms because they can increase study productivity, examine and evaluate specimens, and enhance the quality of laboratory research.
It also goes without saying that there are numerous benefits for healthcare services. Automation helps workers reduce paperwork, lower human error, and increase overall departmental production.
For doctors, they have more time at work in order to interact with patients and deliver even better and more individualized treatment. Additionally, automation enables clinicians to spend less time on an individualized approach and care for bigger groups of patients with comparable needs. Moreover, such patients can get automatic appointment reminders, which will reduce hospital no-shows.
Read more: 8 Main Benefits of Healthcare Automation Systems
As the patient is being carried to the necessary department, a connected ambulance assists healthcare providers by gathering and sending all essential patient data that may be obtained through wearables, sensors, and HD cameras to the hospital.
Doctors will have all the information they need to perform the necessary operations faster and more successfully without wasting valuable time even before the patient arrives at the hospital. In some specific situations, doctors can instruct paramedics on how to perform certain tasks using linked ambulance technology.
Telemedicine & Virtual Visits
The rise in the number of virtual doctor appointments is one notable effect of the digital revolution in healthcare. In comparison to an in-person hospital visit, it enables scheduling appointments with specialists at a time and location that is most convenient for you and much more cost-efficient.
For instance, the COVID19 outbreak severely disrupted in-person care in 2020, and everyone's focus switched to telemedicine. As a result, the quantity of teleconsultations increased dramatically, allowing patients to book appointments and communicate with doctors via video, audio, and messaging while at home.
It is another significant use of digital healthcare solutions that enables patients to check prescriptions, access medical information, schedule doctor appointments, etc. According to a survey, patient portals are one of the key tools that 82% of healthcare providers use to engage patients.
This trend encourages easier access to electronic health records and greatly lessens the workload for medical staff. Patients can also share the information with numerous healthcare professionals, obviating the necessity to manually transmit records over the phone.
However, the application of this digital innovation in healthcare is still in its infancy. Over 40% of respondents to the patient surveys claim that these systems are still too complicated and difficult to understand and use their interface features.
People today are more concerned about their health than ever before; rather than going to the doctor when they are ill, they constantly search for efficient yet practical solutions to check their health indicators. Some of the common types of health wearables include”
Fitness trackers (length, type, distance, calories burned, etc.);
Sweat meters (used by diabetics to monitor blood sugar levels);
Oximeters (used by people with COPD, asthma, severe COVID-19 cases, and other respiratory disorders to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood).
Benefits of digital transformation in healthcare
The Telemedicine’s Convenience
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that face-to-face medical appointments are no longer the only choice. Access to healthcare is facilitated by virtual appointments, whether via the phone or video teleconferencing.
Regardless of devices or location, mobile apps and technologies are bridging the gap between patients and doctors and allowing patients to access medical care whenever and wherever they need. It is irrefutable that going digital is revolutionizing medicine.
Empowering the Patient
When it comes to patient satisfaction, allowing individuals to feel seen and heard is incredibly beneficial. Patients who can provide feedback on their experiences via a web interface are made to feel important, and the comments can be used to enhance an organization's services.
Reduced Prescription Errors
More errors can be caught using sophisticated artificial intelligence and cutting-edge software. These technologies make it simple to scan patient records and find discrepancies in diagnosis and prescriptions, prompting medical professionals to check for possible errors right away.
Patient Health Management
Patients can now regulate their own health and fitness thanks to technology. Patients can monitor their progress with the help of high-tech wearables that offer functions for measuring heart rate, stress, oxygen level, and ECG. The gadgets can also transmit real-time health data to a medical practitioner.
Improved Overall Customer Service
Healthcare is undergoing a digital transition that improves client experiences. Appointments may be made quickly and simply. Patients can access their medical information and medicines whenever they need them by using chatbots instead of filling out forms
For Healthcare Organization
Effective Data Management
One of the best methods for healthcare companies to enhance efficiency and organization is by replacing paper records with digital health records. Electronic records are advantageous to both practitioners and patients because they reduce human errors. These documents assist doctors in accurately diagnosing patients and delivering prompt care.
Until recently, scheduling scans, exams, surgeries, and many other procedures required manual labor. Technology makes things easier by anticipating requirements, allowing for unforeseen cancellations or modifications, and streamlining timetables.
Better Patient Flow
Machine-learning algorithms can also anticipate how many patients will be admitted, transferred, and discharged, which makes the procedure of changing beds more easier. These algorithms assist in deciding whether to admit and dismiss patients, enhancing patient flow, and shortening hospital stays.
Digital Supply Chain
Automating the ordering and management of medical goods is a key component of digitally modernizing the supply chain. The procedure is made easier while costs associated with inventory management and the supply chain are decreased.
Challenges involved in transforming to a digital healthcare industry
Cost of transformation
The cost of new technology is high. The idea of investing in new digital technology might be challenging for many healthcare companies to justify within existing business models.
However, stagnation is not advantageous in the healthcare sector. Established healthcare providers will encounter more competition from startups that prioritize digital strategy as medicine becomes ever more specialized and patient-specific.
Healthcare businesses may believe they cannot afford to invest in projects for digital transformation, but in the long run, they cannot afford to do so.
Aversion to progress
Being human, many of us struggle with change. It's undeniable that the idea of beginning your digital transformation can be intimidating. That holds true for all parties involved, including patients and healthcare providers.
After all, we have gotten accustomed to the way that healthcare services have previously operated. It can be intimidating to introduce cutting-edge information technology and other novel technologies at first. When it comes to senior patients, who frequently sense some level of unease at being exposed to radically altered patient experiences, this can be especially challenging.
However, many older patients may adjust to digital innovation very well if given enough direction and support. Many people, in fact, welcome it and eventually prosper from it.
Implementing new procedures
Successfully implementing digital transformation in healthcare is difficult in large part because it involves more than just purchasing expensive new technology. It also necessitates a thorough mental adjustment. Your workflows will need to be modified to make room for whole new procedures.
Consider the appointment scheduling program. In the tele-health era, you might discover that a considerably higher percentage of routine appointments are held remotely. Legacy systems are frequently built up with a focus on face-to-face appointments.
This affects how healthcare is delivered in a variety of ways. You might observe that there are fewer cancellations now that patients are not required to go. Additionally, it implies that, in the event of cancellations, it could be able to quickly accommodate additional patients.
Data protection and privacy policies
Data security and privacy must be prioritized when adopting any form of digital strategy. That is true in every industry, but nowhere is it more evident than in the healthcare sector. It is impossible to stress the necessity of protecting sensitive health information.
Healthcare professionals are aware of the importance of adhering to laws like HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). However, as the digital transformation process advances, additional compliance concerns may arise.
You must set up enough safeguards to be able to share information and healthcare data among systems, for instance, without jeopardizing the security of such data.
Top Digital Transformation Trends in the Healthcare Sector
Anything that gives patients control over their healthcare is referred to as on-demand healthcare. This could mean, for instance, having access to health information or the ability to schedule appointments through their chosen platforms, such as websites or mobile apps. The emphasis is on shrewd, straightforward access to healthcare when and how we want it.
Wearables are already helping patients keep track of their health and fill in the gaps in their records of care.
Wearable technology is wonderful because it is adaptable. All different types of health indicators, such as blood pressure, heart rate, eye pressure, and blood sugar level, can be monitored using it. The devices are portable and don't get in the way of daily activities because of their modest size.
These gadgets are capable of continuous communication with clinical systems using Wi-Fi and 5G technology, sharing a vast amount of healthcare data that is unique to each patient.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
In 2020, MIT researchers used Big Data to train an artificial intelligence model. The outcome? They identified Halicin, a brand-new class of antibiotic that can treat numerous infections that are resistant to other antibiotics. In terms of medical, a completely new era is just getting started.
We find it challenging to envision the extent to which AI will alter the healthcare ecosystem in the next decades. The practicalities of patient care delivery as well as drug development are expected to be revolutionized by machine learning algorithms and other cognitive technologies.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual reality technology's immersive surroundings present an opportunity for creative problem-solving. They work especially effectively for training and education.
Similar to how pilots train to fly various planes in flight simulators, surgeons can now be trained to conduct difficult procedures using VR software.
VR can be utilized to inform patients about their ailment and available treatments. Hyper-realistic CGI is used in virtual models to help patients see how various therapies can change their bodies.
The Five-Step Process for Innovation in Healthcare Industry
Start with the foundation
Examine your current infrastructure, which includes any legacy systems, real-time location systems, patient engagement applications, electronic health records, telemetry, etc. Determine what works well for you and what could be improved after you get the information.
Perform needs analysis
Once you have all the details, work with the design team to rank the wish lists of each department while taking the budget into account. Then, consider the crucial indicators, such as HCAHPS scores, ROI, and safety satisfaction with patients and employees. Create plans to use technologies to help you achieve certain key performance metrics.
Build the Process and Technology Roadmap
It's time to start working on the process design and tech mapping to decide which problems can be fixed and which should be automated. Next, proceed with an integrated delivery strategy, making sure to address crucial issues like who would be in charge of the integration and who would own the project.
Execution and Delivery
Partner with a reputable healthcare digital transformation business for the process's effective execution and delivery. The business you partner with must have in-depth understanding of intricate details, monitor project progress, work to realize a common goal, and make sure key performance indicators are met.
Additionally, the agency you choose should have a strong background in handling current and future problems.
The healthcare sector is quickly changing due to digital transformation. Patients are now active value-seeking consumers rather than passive recipients of healthcare. Due to this transformation and new government laws, healthcare providers must deploy a variety of custom apps that depend on trouble-free, real-time access to information in their IT environment in order to improve patient care and experience. The urgent demand for performance management in the healthcare sector both now and in the future is being driven by this adoption.
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