Is Digital Transformation Crucial for Advancing Healthcare?

Healthcare companies (device manufacturers, payors, and providers, among others) have long relied on technology as a core utility to track R&D efforts and patient information, schedule payments and services, launch new care options, and generally keep the lights on.

Equal access to affordable and competent healthcare has been a long-debated topic for the healthcare industry worldwide, and digital technologies have the potential to play a critical role in efforts to improve healthcare quality, reduce costs, and identify care gaps. 

However, rapid advancements in technology space may also exacerbate exclusion while introducing unexpected biases, widening the digital divide, and continuing to leave some patients behind. 

To fix this, we’ll deepen our understanding of why digital transformation is crucial for advancing healthcare. 

Addressing Healthcare Gaps Through Digital Solutions

More and more healthcare organizations across the globe are finding that digital technologies must be managed not as utilities but as strategic assets.

Some companies are attempting to bridge the gap between legacy and digital IT by undertaking complex systems transformations. Some healthcare technology companies are experimenting with ways to maintain their existing IT architecture while using analytics to mine the data they collect for helpful business insights securely.

Similarly, a large drugmaker is exploring using cloud platforms to reduce data storage and processing costs and boost the speed of its R&D efforts.

Here are the digital efforts to enhance the quality of Healthcare.

AI and ML

Research says that over 59% of U.S. healthcare executives believe that artificial intelligence (AI) is either “very effective” or “often effective” at improving clinical outcomes.

AI is emerging as a power force to be the driving force for healthcare trifecta- payers, providers, and patients, and has varied applications in healthcare, such as analyzing large amounts of patient data to spot patterns, make predictions, and flag potential health risks.

By utilizing AI, healthcare companies can quickly analyze vast datasets (including electronic medical records, lab results, or even medical imaging like X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans) uncover new insights and then drive actions with real potential to improve patient outcomes.

RPM (Remote Patient Monitoring)

Remote patient monitoring bridges the gap between traditional in-person care and continuous, remote monitoring, enabling healthcare providers to make informed decisions and interventions in real-time.

With the rising use of digital technologies, care providers are now equipped with better tools to actively manage patients’ health without actually visiting them.

Many advantages of remote patient monitoring can culminate in improved outcomes and diminished healthcare costs. 

By actively integrating digital technologies into the RPM processes, hospital readmission rates can be reduced massively, whereas first-time readmissions are reduced to upto 87%.

Telemedicine

Telemedicine is another breakthrough in digital healthcare, which, through telehealth devices, IoT devices, and virtual/augmented reality devices, have enhanced the level of engagement between patients and clinical care workers. 

Telemedicine has proven valuable as a home diagnostic and medicine tool for patients with chronic conditions and other illnesses.

For example- Telemedicine provided an alternative for the delivery of routine care to the elderly and other high-risk patients during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

When the pandemic approached, and in-person diagnosis and medicine were not practically possible due to social distancing, telemedicine emerged as a powerful tool to treat patients who may have the virus, and as a potent strategy to protect at-risk patients from exposure while providing routine care

Clearly, by leveraging telemedicine, healthcare systems can continue to seamlessly care for their patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, and heart disease.

Automated Clinical Workflows 

Automated clinical workflows aim to reduce the care gaps by identifying and reducing the clinical errors. In the healthcare industry, approximately 50% of medication-related issues in healthcare settings are driven by error. 

The rising problem of labor shortages is only intensifying this problem, as nearly 34% of physicians believe there is an increase in medical errors as a result of staffing shortages.

In this case, Automated Clinical workflow solutions are becoming increasingly essential for hospitals and health centers, as these systems can provide a central hub for storing and retrieving patient data, helping to increase the bandwidth of caregivers while also enhancing the quality of care by reducing medical errors.

Medical Device (Such as SaMD, EMRs)

Medical devices like SaMD (Software as a medical device) and EMR (Electronic medical device) are not only simplifying the healthcare processes but also improving the care outcomes by helping both care providers and patients. 

A SaMD is on its own medical device, employed for medical purposes by providing real-time data. SaMD is integrated with a medical device, generates evidence of the product’s analytical, technical, and clinical validation, and proves a concrete clinical association between the output and the intended clinical condition.

EMR serves as a single source of truth for patient records. By recording the medical history of the patient, EMRs allow doctors from other medical facilities to easily access the patients’ information whenever they need to.

This has also cut hospital costs as they do not need to maintain their own software and digital systems. Not only do EMRs record patient data, but they also process insurance claims, manage payments, schedule patient visits, add new patients, and share information.

Connected Ambulance

Just like other IoT-connected smart devices, connected ambulances work as a helping hand for healthcare providers by gathering and transmitting patients’ real-time data to the providers.

With the help of wearable devices, sensors, and HD cameras, a connected ambulance sends the patient’s information to the hospital whilst the patient is being transported to the required hospital or department.

This results in reducing the care gaps as doctors are already equipped with all the necessary information to do the required medical procedures without wasting any time, even before the patient gets to the hospital.

On-Demand Healthcare Services

When anything is available by demand, it’s called an on-demand service. Hence, just like any other on-demand need, healthcare services are also available whenever they are needed, and they control the technology-dominated sphere. 

Healthcare is the most critical aspect, and care should be given instantly. On-demand healthcare services solve this challenge.

Not only does it help patients get immediate care, but for hospitals too, on-demand health reduces costs and helps providers get rid of hassle while reducing their paperwork.

For example, John has a high fever, and instead of waiting for the doctor to see John, he now has access to easily schedule an appointment at the clinic by tapping a few buttons; sounds fantastic, right? In cases like these, the on-demand solution helps you get the right care at the right time.

Benefits of Digital Transformation for Advanced Healthcare

Healthcare stakeholders, over the past few years, have been embracing digital technologies to streamline their workflows, improve patient outcomes, and reduce costs. From telemedicine to electronic health records (EHRs), digital transformation has revolutionized the delivery of healthcare app development services.

This blog post will explore the real-world benefits of digital transformation in healthcare.

Improved Patient Flow

As healthcare providers strive to provide the right care to the right patient at the right time, the challenge of accurately evaluating patients’ needs while managing resources actively emerges as a striking one.

To balance it out, data-driven operational decision-support systems can provide valuable insights to aid in making these triage, admission, and discharge decisions. 

Research done on operational data from over 190,000 patient hospitalizations across 15 U.S. hospitals shows that when patients who had a clinical need for admission to the ICU are instead admitted to another part of the hospital. 

For example, when a patient arrives, the data-driven algorithm can recommend them if there is a vacancy for patients accurately in the ICU or a general ward.

Meanwhile, EHRs can recommend the treatment needed for admission for that particular patient based on past disease patterns.

Improved Patient Outcomes

Mobile applications and wearable devices have provided patients with the ease of managing their health on their own, tracking vital signs and medication, and managing chronic conditions more effectively. Self-patient portals and EHRs provide them with convenient access to medical information, test results, and appointment scheduling, fostering increased engagement and participation in one’s healthcare decisions. 

This has resulted in improving patient care outcomes by providing more accurate diagnoses, faster treatment, and personalized care.

This shift of the healthcare paradigm from reactive to proactive care reduces the medical burden on patients, reduces hospital readmissions, and better overall patient experience.

Data-Driven Decision Making:

One of the most significant benefits of digital transformation in healthcare is data-driven decision-making. Healthcare and the accuracy of healthcare outcomes are crucial, especially when dependent on an AI tool.

There’s a vast amount of healthcare data worldwide, and it’s just piling up daily; this data has immense potential for driving evidence-based decision-making. 

Digital transformation enables patient data collection, integration, and analysis, providing healthcare providers with valuable insights into population health trends, disease management, and treatment effectiveness.

By leveraging data analytics, healthcare professionals can identify patterns, predict outcomes, and personalize treatment plans while enhancing clinical decision-making, leading to improved patient outcomes and a more efficient allocation of healthcare resources.

Cost Savings 

Healthcare organizations that actively embraced digital transformation have outperformed in revenue growth and cost savings.

These organizations have realized the potential of digital technologies to drive innovation, improve patient outcomes, and optimize resource utilization.

Research says that self-service tools for members and providers and enabling paperless communications can reduce administrative costs by up to 30%.

Take implementing electronic health records (EHRs) as a valid example of cost savings through digital adoption. EHRs provide patients with past diagnosis reports, related data, and predictive treatments for ailments, all in one place.

This eliminates the need for manual paper-based record-keeping, reducing administrative costs and improving data accuracy.

By adopting to EHRs, healthcare professionals can access patient information quickly and efficiently, leading to enhanced productivity and reduced operational expenses.

Is this transformation technically feasible?

Despite many efforts and tech advancements in the healthcare industry, most pharmaceutical and medical technology companies are digital laggards compared with companies in travel, retail, telecommunications, and other sectors. 

Improvements in global health have contributed to about a third of all economic growth in advanced economies over the past century but digital transformation and adopting of the digital solutions across the industry at large is still a large battle to play.

Digital health solutions must be designed to reach previously excluded or underrepresented groups to sustain this growth rate.

To make a bright digital future of healthcare, hospitals and health systems must first determine the best solutions for their operations. 

When designing a plan to incorporate digital tools, it is critical to involve those who will be using these systems firsthand, like care managers, providers, and nurses.

Most often, doctors have some insights and feedback into the operational pain points they receive from patients.

By encouraging stakeholders to participate in these conversations, hospital decision-makers can better understand their workforce’s needs and introduce a tailored solution, which can help guarantee the adoption of digital systems.

Healthcare providers and device manufacturers are partnering with other companies in the healthcare ecosystem, including market entrants from the high-tech sector to introduce better and accurate solutions in the market.

The latter is the maestro of consumer marketing, but, in general, they are relatively unfamiliar with healthcare compliance processes.

Healthcare companies can help fill that expertise gap by involving frontline healthcare workers in the digital healthcare development process. 

Will Developing a Digital health system solve this issue?

It’s important to understand that digital tools don’t use themselves: We have to tell them what to do.

Figuring out how to develop systems to use a growing quantity and variety of digital information is the most important and formidable healthcare mission of our time. 

Since the 1990s, the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has been using data to measure and improve healthcare quality across the globe, primarily across the US market.

Now, the challenge is the overwhelming amount of data that needs to be mined for its essentials. And for this, being mindful while using this critical data is important.