Even though healthcare is notably resistant to change, but we are now witnessing that even healthcare arena is embracing digital transformation and that too at a faster pace. Yes, nowadays, organizations in the healthcare sector are looking for some fresh approaches towards adopting full digitization of their enterprise.
Even the beginning of digitization in the healthcare industry has helped health service providers to create a robust as well as critical infrastructure by focusing on the patient’s needs. It can be said that by looking at the outcomes, in the beginning, healthcare’s digital future looks promising as the patients are more comfortable in using digital services for complex and sensitive issues including health care and medicine.
So, it is nothing less than an indication for providers and payers to embrace healthcare’s digital future by adopting the wave of digitization.
The non-healthcare organizations have already adopted digitization (that too successfully) in its entirety by offering digital products and processes through contemporary channels and also enhancing their effectiveness and efficiency by leveraging advanced analytics.
It could be seen that the implementation of digital methods in the healthcare industry transformed the way the providers and patients function and interact. Apart from easy communication, it is also making medical care services accessible to everyone by ensuring wide availability.
Digitization in Healthcare – How and What?
As soon as Health Information Technology (HIT) enabled the digitization, every individual’s perception of health care has been revolutionized. Yes, it changed the way end-users approach or interact regarding the subject of medical services or health care or both.
The relationship between a patient and a provider has been transformed by adopting IT in the healthcare industry. It is also empowering common men to participate in personal as well as family health management actively.
There is no doubt that it is crucial to understand the patient needs, from the perspective of the healthcare service providers, especially to create value. So, to identify patient needs, Healthcare organizations are leveraging market intelligence solutions such as customer analytics and big data analytics.
Furthermore, to meet the estimated patient need and demands, healthcare organizations are trying to identify their customer segments and positioning the services strategically.
Undoubtedly, adopting digitization in healthcare is key to successfully gain actionable insights and thereby, adding new services to retain patient attention and drive value.
Adopting Digitization in Healthcare – Going Slow
As healthcare executives often refer to the sensitive nature of medical care as a justification for the relatively low consumption of digital healthcare services, healthcare organizations are slowly adopting digitization. But as a matter of fact, that’s not the reality at all because the patients are willing to avail digital service if it matches their requirements and assures good quality.
One more reason cited for the slow rate of digital adoption is that most health system providers usually feel the need to be innovative regarding features as well as designs. But, it is reported out of surveys that patients don’t expect much innovative features or designs. All they want is improved accessibility, efficient processes, and human interaction.
So, instead of building a comprehensive and complicated platform directly, healthcare organizations can start small, be responsive, provide assistance with routine medical tasks, and offer easy navigation, while adopting digitization in their systems.
The Ways Digitization Benefits Healthcare Industry
The digital age brings convenience to the organization, but it surely brings a few threats associated with technological advancements. And, it could be said that this has done little to restrict its entry into the healthcare field.
Healthcare can greatly benefit from digitization as a trillion-dollar industry spread over hospital care, dental care, clinical services, nursing homes, medications, home healthcare, and research & development. As a fact, it already uses technology to ensure better patient care.
Different professionals have different perceptions on the digitization of health care arena. While a few healthcare professionals hail the new ways introduced by digital inclusion that strengthened their position for years to come, many others complain about the new methods for healthcare deliverance.
Let’s discuss some points that establish how digitization can benefit the healthcare industry:
1. Better Coordination
There are times when common people don’t understand what right steps they need to take, and the reason behind it is lack of coordination. And, that what's digitization does. It makes it easier for healthcare professionals and patients to remain on the same page.
Those days are gone when the patients had to maintain a thick medical records file, which they were required to carry to their every medical appointment. That's because patient history is to help the attendants who may or may not be well-versed with the patient’s previous conditions, particularly in emergency cases. But now digitization has facilitated this platform to keep doctors as well as the patients well-informed of every situation.
Now with digital help, both patients and doctors can create and maintain records of medical history, preferably uploaded to a cloud. And as per the convenience, a patient can choose anyone they want to grant access.
And, as an advantage, it involves a little extra effort with all traditional forms of record-keeping. However, offering a chronological history of medical visits, tests, and medications, it pays off in the long run, besides benefits.
At the same place, it appears as extremely beneficial when an uninformed doctor is given your medical case, usually in times of medical emergencies.
2. Patient Inclusion & Patient Compliance
That time is gone when healthcare was a one-way conversation; the doctors would prescribe, and the patients would follow their advice without any second thought.
But this has changed; the healthcare experience has now transformed into a more retail-like business transaction with a few tweaks. Yes, because these days, healthcare isn’t a one-time transaction, and there’s more than just money involved in it.
And, undoubtedly, this puts a higher emphasis on patient inclusion and patient compliance to ensure the overall patient experience is accurate. Medical practitioners need to craft a remedy keeping their patient’s specific preferences in mind after hearing patient concerns.
Not only this, offering medical support round the clock, they can keep in touch with their patients via traditional channels and through technology. So, if the diagnosis of a medical condition depends on the way the patient’s body reacts to the suggested medications, it works well.
Moreover, the surveys find that the patient’s willingness to comply (or Patient Compliance) with the given protocol influences recovery and well-being. They are motivated to turn the tables in their favor and are likely to go the extra mile. Apart from this, it has immense potential in lowering the cost of healthcare.
3. Better Mapping
There is no doubt that technologies are getting smarter by the day. From counting your steps to monitoring heart rate, the small handheld gadgets of today can log pretty much everything about the human body. It’s not just the smartphone or the smartwatch, but also a wide range of medical wearable gadgets have been introduced with time.
Your smartphone is connected to the internet, and at the same place, you are connected to your smartphone. So, all essential data about your health can be transmitted to the cloud or doctor in real-time, automatically.
Digitization has made it easier to identify alarming situations proactively along with monitoring progress. Most importantly, digitization enables you to identify and nip the problem in the bud, so you don’t have to wait until the smoke triggers the fire alarm.
4. Higher Awareness
It is a trend that whenever the body reacts abnormally, instead of making that cumbersome trip to the clinic, a significant chunk of the population would prefer to log on to the internet & Google their symptoms. But, it is not always right as this is one of the reasons which leads people to the emergency ward due to incorrect self-medication based on the terrible self- or internet-based diagnosis.
Well, it is not only the Google on which people rely, but this segment will be seen on Facebook or other similar forums, discussing symptoms and possibilities. Some surveys suggest that around a third of the population is sharing experiences about healthcare professionals and facilities. It is believed to be more reliable and trustworthy as this bit of information comes from a human directly.
But this has some shortcomings as well. They fail to notice a point that medicine is an extremely vast plus complicated field. Two patients might have very different medical conditions based on hereditary factors, the environment, and other influencers, even with identical symptoms.
So at this point, digitization became helpful as it enables medical practitioners and experts to reach out with authentic information. Another great thing digitalization is doing is, infusing social media channels with proper medical information and enabling doctors to connect with their current and potential patients, bringing healthcare costs down.
It is also about putting out a message to the wide audiences instead of being where you are needed. Based on the statistics, over 0.3 million deaths annually are associated with obesity, for instance.
As an advantage, you can maintain your health even at work, while it’s impossible to leave a job because it is making you obese. This medical condition is curable with some dietary control and exercise, for the most part. To inform masses about their mistakes, even doctors can raise red flags concerning societal norms and can also put them on the road to better health and longevity.
5. New Product Development with Value-Based Healthcare
Over the past few decades, the healthcare industry has changed drastically. Several new surgical procedures and medical devices have been made available with emerging technologies.
Apart from that, it led to value-based treatment. As per the system, doctors and hospitals are paid based on patient health outcomes. The growing up of digital tools in this sector of healthcare can be counted as the development of the field.
Also, the implementation of exceptional digital technologies in patient-care domains like mobile health apps, wearables, telehealth, and remote monitoring can help boost efficiency, enhance accessibility, and augment the effectiveness of treatment and preventive care.
So, we have seen how digital initiatives deliver the best results when driven deep into a specific problem area. And, not only that, we have seen how the use of digitization works as part of a cohesive change management program.
Moreover, the combination of digitization and the healthcare sector had a massive impact on the operations of the healthcare and diagnostics industry. It enhances life for millions of people by helping in the development of this industry.
Due to all such advantages, many organizations are moving away from piecemeal technology to end-to-end process transformation. What we see all over the country is that the innovation in the filed is best delivered locally — hospitals and physician offices experiment iteratively to deliver moderate and sustainable results.
And we are only at the beginning of this incredible journey!