Digital transformation in healthcare involves using technology to improve efficiency, productivity, and patient care. When done right, digital transformation helps elevate data-driven businesses by streamlining work, optimizing systems, reducing human error, lowering administrative costs, and improving patient outcomes. But what does the digitalization of the healthcare industry really mean, and how can it deliver significant results?
As thought leaders in healthcare IT, Medicus IT helps organizations think differently and strategically leverage innovative technology to improve operations, mitigate risk, grow, and plan for the future. Here, we’re digging deeper and exploring the impact of digital transformation in healthcare.
What is Digital Transformation in Healthcare?
Digital transformation refers to how organizations adopt technology to improve customer services, as well as their own internal operations. Digital transformation in healthcare helps providers streamline their processes and create interconnected systems for medical staff and patients, which enables greater efficiency and accuracy in patient care.
Digital healthcare can provide a better user experience and build loyalty and trust. Specifically, it can help healthcare providers to:
- Quickly search through medical databases
- Efficiently facilitate clinical support
- Monitor the quality of patient care
- Quickly respond to patient queries
- Monitor and map the spread of infectious diseases
- Accurately track inventory of resources like drugs and vaccines
Benefits of Digital Transformation For Patients
The digital healthcare industry can vastly improve patient care and help organizations grow by providing the following benefits.
The Convenience of Telemedicine
The Covid-19 pandemic has proven how in-person appointments are no longer the only option for healthcare. Virtual appointments make healthcare more accessible, whether through phone calls or video teleconferencing. Mobile apps and software are bridging the gap between people and physicians, regardless of device and location. Going digital is transforming medicine because it lets patients receive medical assistance anytime, anywhere.
Allowing people to feel seen and heard does wonders when it comes to patient satisfaction. A web interface that allows patients to give feedback on their experiences helps them feel valued, and the feedback can be used to help improve an organization’s services.
Reduced Prescription Errors
With advanced software and sophisticated artificial intelligence, more errors can be caught. These technologies can easily scan patient records and detect inconsistencies in diagnoses and prescriptions, immediately alerting providers to check for potential errors.
Patient Health Management
Technology allows patients to take control of their own health and wellness. With high-tech wearables that have features monitoring heart rate, stress, oxygen level, and ECG, patients can keep track of their progress. The devices can also send their health information to a healthcare professional in real-time.
Improved Overall Customer Service
Digital transformation in healthcare helps create better customer experiences. Patients can easily and quickly make appointments, receive responses through chatbots without having to fill out forms, and get access to their health records and prescriptions when they need them.
Benefits of Digital Transformation for Healthcare Organizations
Healthcare organizations can leverage data and technology to optimize decision-making and improve data management, workflow, and patient care.
The advantages healthcare organizations gain from digital transformation are:
Efficient Data Management
Replacing paper records with digital health records is one of the best ways healthcare organizations achieve efficiency and order. Because it eliminates human error, electronic records are useful to both practitioners and patients. These records help physicians quickly diagnose patients and provide timely, accurate care.
Scheduling scans, tests, surgeries, and many other tasks used to be a manual process. Technology helps by predicting needs, accommodating last-minute changes or cancellations, and optimizing schedules.
Specifically, machine-learning algorithms can use existing research to better predict the duration of each procedure or the length of recovery times. With this kind of data, organizations can prevent congestion, reduce room delays, and book operating rooms with more precision.
Better Patient Flow
Machine-learning algorithms can also predict the number of expected patient admissions, transfers, and discharges, easily facilitating the bed turnover process. These algorithms help in making admission and discharge decisions, improving patient flow, and reducing their length of stay.
Digital Supply Chain
Digitally transforming the supply chain means automating the process of ordering and organizing medical supplies. A digitized supply chain simplifies the process while reducing supply chain and inventory management-related costs. For instance, Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) allows organizations to easily track and locate supplies in real-time, leading to improved care and patient experience.
Benefits of Digital Transformation for the Healthcare Industry
Technology innovation connects doctors, patients, and the community, and it is poised to continue changing the healthcare landscape for the better. Digital transformation benefits the healthcare industry in the following ways.
Telemedicine allows healthcare providers to examine, diagnose, and treat patients virtually through smartphones, tablets, or other devices. Patients now also have an easier time searching for doctors and scheduling virtual appointments. In essence, telemedicine allows people to gain access to healthcare on demand.
Technology can also be used to help better manage high-risk patients. For example, providers can track a patient’s condition and activities remotely through wearable devices and other IoT-based health sensors.
Technology allows physicians to collect and store large amounts of data in a short time. With easy access to data, physicians and other healthcare professionals can seamlessly collect and combine research and results, helping the industry stay updated on new information and technologies. All this information provides valuable insight that can lead to better diagnoses and treatments, disease prevention, outbreak prediction, and improved quality of life.
Technology provides a simple and cost-effective way to communicate. Medical professionals can conduct webinars through social media platforms and other apps to easily connect with other professionals from all over the world.
Digital Health Records
Electronic Health Records (EHR) allow organizations to easily store and organize records. When it comes to patient referrals, doctors no longer have to search through large filing cabinets or personally collect records from various departments and specialists. With centralized storage, patient data can be accessed quickly, helping physicians provide better medical care.
Because of technology, students and doctors alike can pursue education online. They can study and learn at their preferred time and location, which eliminates the need to travel or relocate and allows them to go to work while pursuing their studies.
Top 7 Digital Transformation Trends in Healthcare
Technology has paved the way for innovations that are continuing to create a positive impact on healthcare. From big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to wearables and blockchain technology, the following digital health trends could potentially revolutionize healthcare.
Healthcare delivery is no longer limited to physical hospitals and clinics. Technology makes it possible for physicians and patients to provide and receive care anytime, anywhere. Already, widespread acceptance of telemedicine has been established and has proven to be a viable option for care.
This digital health transformation can also allow physicians to do more than provide virtual consultations. Apps, software, and devices allow remote physicians to guide others during surgical procedures or provide remote video-based treatment services such as patient counseling.
Healthcare organizations collect massive amounts of data and are leveraging big data to make better use of it. Big data collects information through formats such as social media and financial transactions to identify patterns for future use.
The benefits of improved data collection and analysis include:
- Reduced medication errors – software can flag inconsistencies in a patient’s health and drug prescriptions, alerting medical professionals and patients of potential risks.
- Better preventive care – machine-learning algorithms can help identify recurring patients and help create strategies for preventing them from returning.
- Improved staffing – big data analysis could help hospitals predict future admission rates, helping facilities save money by allocating the proper staff to care for patients.
One of the most exciting digital trends in healthcare is virtual reality. It allows users to see, hear, and interact in a simulated environment using special equipment, such as headsets. Unlike traditional devices that simply display visuals on a screen, VR takes its users inside an experience.
Benefits of VR include:
- Pain management – simulated environments provide an effective distraction from pain or other uncomfortable procedures. Instead of focusing on injections, sutures, or other invasive procedures, children can be walking through forests or riding a roller coaster through VR, distracted from any pain.
- Improved physical therapy – VR can make physical therapy more effective and enjoyable for patients. Using a gamified approach to physical therapy, for instance, can help children with cerebral palsy gain significant improvement in their mobility.
- Improved education – 360-degree videos provide excellent virtual classrooms for students, either through instruction or by showing what it’s like to live with certain health conditions. This enables students to research or study specific diseases and understand their symptoms better.
Wearable devices offer fitness tracking and can now be integrated with EHR, allowing remote monitoring of patients. Digital healthcare trends are pointing towards more high-tech devices that will integrate valuable metrics with predictive capabilities, enabling physicians to provide diagnoses and treatments early on.
Machine learning and AI can help provide predictive analysis. It can predict future illnesses and diseases, help companies prepare for health emergencies, and assist physicians in developing healthy lifestyle recommendations for their patients.
Artificial Intelligence is a digital innovation in healthcare. It simplifies the duties of doctors and hospital admins, as it can do many tasks in less time than humans and at a fraction of the cost.
Here’s how AI can transform healthcare:
- Reduced diagnosis errors – AI can predict and diagnose diseases faster than medical professionals. For example, computer-assisted detection and diagnosis (CAD) software can assist radiologists in improving the accuracy of screening mammography.
- Improved analytics for pathology images – AI can analyze thousands of pathology images to provide accurate diagnoses for various cancers and recommend the best possible medications. It analyzes images so accurately that it helps radiologists see details the human eye typically overlooks.
- EHR management – EHR systems integrated with AI can help providers examine existing data and gather relevant insights they could use in patient care. For example, AI can profile a patient’s genes and recommend the best drug. Physicians may also be alerted about things they should consider when recommending treatment or medication.
- Automating repetitive tasks – AI technology can take over repetitive tasks, freeing hospital staff to work on their other responsibilities. From medical billing to eligibility verification and data migration, processes can be automated so staffers can focus on patient care.
Blockchain is another healthcare IT trend that has a wide range of applications. The digital ledger technology, which is shared across a network of computers, can securely transfer patient medical records, manage the supply chain, and help healthcare researchers in their studies.
Blockchain can be especially useful in managing EHR. Because of the decentralized computer network that monitors every transaction, any discrepancy is automatically flagged. This keeps records 100% accurate and almost impossible to hack. Blockchain is also private, concealing the identity of patients or any sensitive medical data. The technology’s decentralized nature also allows patients and providers to quickly and safely exchange information.
Challenges of Digital Transformation In Healthcare & Solutions
While digital transformation is helpful for organizations, providers, and patients, there are technological challenges in healthcare that can make the transition more difficult. The key challenges of technology in healthcare include:
Healthcare regularly deals with massive amounts of data, and data processing and analysis can be a major challenge. Without a sufficient AI system that can handle this data, providers may struggle and have a difficult time providing better patient care.
Additionally, telemedicine is not that simple. It can be difficult for medical professionals to update patient health records when working from different locations and shifting from one device to another.
To fix these issues, sufficient AI data management protocols should be employed. In addition, apps, software, and systems should provide a seamless way to update records from in-person and virtual consultations, from multiple locations and devices.
Because medical records contain valuable patient data, healthcare organizations are often targeted by cybercriminals. Cloud technology enables healthcare organizations to store and share data across multiple devices, organizations, and systems, which widens the security perimeter and increases vulnerability. Risk management practices may not be able to keep up with the dangers lurking online.
For these reasons, healthcare strategies for transformation should include preventive care for IT, which starts with a strategic focus on the systems and digital healthcare solutions designed to keep organizations out of trouble. Examples of preventive security solutions include vulnerability assessment, penetration testing, incident response, security risk assessment, and remediation planning.
Because technology allows for collaborative healthcare, there is a greater risk of exposing sensitive patient data. Cloud technology makes patient data available across medical environments, devices, and locations in order to aid in diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring. Without proper data privacy controls, however, the risk of data breaches and compromised patient care significantly increases.
Cloud services should encrypt files both in the cloud and on the computer. Encryption ensures service providers, administrators, and third parties do not have access to private information.
How Medicus IT Can Help with Your Digital Transformation
Digital transformation in the healthcare industry is an ongoing process with new trends and technologies emerging each day. When you decide to pursue digital transformation of your healthcare practice, you must think beyond technology to drive innovation.
Medicus IT specializes in helping organizations shift their perspective on how technology influences their daily operations. We guide you in making proactive, strategic decisions so your organization keeps pace with industry change and stays aligned, prepared, and ahead.
Whether you require help migrating to the cloud, re-engineering your telephone system with HIPPA-Compliant VoIP solutions, enhancing security, or a combination of services, Medicus can help. We offer customizable solutions along with strategic technology leadership and guidance to help you mitigate risk, make informed decisions, and prepare your practice to scale.
Utilizing industry knowledge and experience, our healthcare IT transformation experts will assess, design, and implement advanced solutions that allow you to transform how you deliver healthcare.
Our transformation services include:
- Technology Assessments
- Strategic Planning and Support
- Design & Implementation
- Mergers & Acquisitions
- New Practice Deployments
- EMR Support
Our focus on the healthcare industry allows you to transition quickly, seamlessly, and safely, without workflow disruptions or risks to your organization. As your healthcare managed services provider, Medicus can strengthen your IT operations and determine a scalable strategic plan that helps your organization successfully navigate the future. To learn more about how Medicus’ services can help transform your healthcare organization, contact us today.