The future of healthcare shaped by digital transformation
Technology impacts every aspect of our lives, and plays a strategic role in healthcare. Digital transformation allows medical facilities to streamline their processes, optimize their work, collect, and analyze all kinds of data like never before. The wide adoption of mobile and wearable technologies offers a chance to provide healthcare solutions in the most convenient way.
What is digital transformation
Digital transformation is the process of integrating digital technology into all areas of an organization, profoundly changing how it operates by creating new – or by modifying existing – processes, user experiences, and organizational culture. It is not only enhancing the traditional methods, but reimaging them for the digital age to meet the changing market expectations and solve healthcare challenges faster and more accurately.
Digital transformation in healthcare is the improvement of processes, services, and models with the aim to fully leverage the opportunities of digital technologies. It brings people, business, and technology together. It also allows us to reduce human error.
Digital transformation in healthcare
Determining the goals of digital transformation in healthcare
An effective digital transformation strategy should start with the end in mind. Companies must define what they want to accomplish. You need to know what digital transformation will change for medical staff and patients, their engagement, and their experience.
After establishing the objective, leaders should choose and adopt technologies with a clear focus on improving the overall business. Defining the overall objective drives the transformation on every level of the organization. It helps create a lasting competitive advantage.
The benefits of digital transformation in healthcare
Digitization and modern technologies provide healthcare with plenty of new opportunities by helping improve efficiency, reduce costs, control finances, and increase security.
Preventive and proactive care
Wide adoption of data-tracking devices, from smartphones to wearables like smartwatches or smartbands, combined with advanced data analytics and digital mindset, introduce a more proactive care approach and disease prevention as opposed to reacting to late symptoms and treating sick patients. Owing to real-time health monitoring, physicians and caregivers can recommend proper diet or control visits to prevent negative health conditions, like calculating risk of malignancy of lung nodules. Following certain health routines can also be essential for reducing the risk of developing a disease.
The broad access to the Internet (over 75% of US population) offers new opportunities in providing care. Many patients no longer need to leave home for primary care visits as they can be offered online using telemedicine or virtual doctors. It can minimize the risk of a patient getting sick in the waiting room, but it also helps reduce the administrative costs of healthcare, allowing hospital staff to focus on providing more care to their patients.
The mass popularization of mobile devices has resulted in a shift in how people expect their services to be delivered, healthcare included. Mobility allows us to provide accurate and timely care, and digital acceleration in place helps physicians receive and analyze feedback fully remotely.
Thanks to broad access to data collected using the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), decentralised Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) can be made available to medical facilities and caregivers – as well as patients themselves – within seconds. With help of AI and Machine Learning, facilities can now reduce the time spent on managing EMRs. ML-based solutions dramatically improve the capabilities of prediction the risk of developing a disease and building disease prevention plans.
Increased patient engagement and adherence is one of the major benefits of digital acceleration in healthcare. Virtual assistants and mobile and wearable devices make it easier for patients to understand and follow care recommendations and track results. Digital tools vastly improve care effectiveness and help reduce the cost of medical treatments at the same time.
Challenges in the digital transformation process for healthcare
Changing the mindset
Studies show that one of the key digital acceleration challenges that companies face is having the right mindset and organizational culture. Change resistance or the lack of a proper digital mindset among the company’s leadership can result in the organization's inability to adapt to the new digital healthcare market, whose value is expected to rise above $234.5bn by 2023.
Selecting the right technology
In the process of developing a digital product, choosing the right technology is essential for quick and agile validation of a business idea. Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to receive initial feedback from clients and end-users involves a combination of a tech platform and talent that allows for limiting time & resources.
Selecting a proper software platform for a healthcare solution at the earliest possible stage can have a significant impact on future growth and scalability of this solution, like going for cross-platform mobile app development using React Native or Flutter instead of developing natively for each platform.
Ensuring medical data security
Encrypted healthcare communication compliant with highest security standards for medical staff is essential for data privacy protection. Any medical device or software that gains access to Electronic Medical Records and processes any patient’s health data is obliged to follow strict security regulations and standards. It could be challenging for MedTech and HealthTech startups and enterprises to adapt their digital products to regulations and certificates in each market they operate in, but mapping these requirements at an early stage allows technology teams to align their solutions with any legal regulations and market expectations.
Digital transformation in healthcare: trends and solutions
A virtual online assistant can give patients quick answers to their questions while optimizing your labour costs at the same time. While older patients get more open to telemedicine solutions, millennials already expect their care to be provided virtually rather than arranging an in-person appointment. According to Massachusetts General Hospital, up to 79% of patients find a telemedicine follow-up appointment more convenient than a traditional meeting.
Information extracted from medical images can assist clinicians in efficient diagnosis and prognosis. Research shows that diagnostics errors could be responsible for one in ten patient deaths, as well as between 6 and 17 percent of all hospital complications. The recent advancements in Machine Learning-assisted image recognition have facilitated reliable automation of diagnostics – by removing the possibility of human error from the equation. Using technologies like Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing or Digital Twins helps medical teams imagine the human body, follow the course of a disease, analyze possible treatment scenarios, and track treatment results.
Real-time health monitoring
Continuous remote health monitoring by means of wearable devices, IoT sensors, and smartphones allows doctors to track medical symptoms and conditions as they occur, and to put forward accurate treatment or diet plans.
By combining IoT and patient management apps, physicians can increase patient engagement and adherence. Improving patients’ medical knowledge and understanding of the offered treatment plans can have a major impact on the success rate, and it can also reduce healthcare costs.
Electronic Medical Records streamline the communication between patients and doctors. EMRs help facilitate the diagnosis process by introducing multiple data sources and providing medical staff with instant access to a patient’s history, any already undergone treatments, and other conditions that should be taken into account during the treatment process.
Healthcare Internet of Things
The idea behind Internet of Things (IoT) is based on extending the online connectivity beyond standard devices (such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops) to any objects that have traditionally stayed off the grid, including medical equipment. IoT enables them to identify themselves to other items, interact with them, and exchange data in order to provide patients with coordinated and proactive and preventive care delivery. It can also be used to build a network between Internet-connected physical devices to monitor hospital equipment on premises using, for instance,. beacons to avoid losses.
Augmented Reality Augmented Reality adds digital components to the real world, often by using the camera on a smartphone to enhance the experience. AR solutions can be used to present the possible outcome of a treatment, e.g. a dental treatment, to visualize the desired results.