A few years ago, being able to see another person who lives miles away on a screen seemed like a futuristic thing. As technological advancements have sped up, this is not just a dream but a reality we live in. Video calls, text messages, and virtual reality used to be mere fiction. Healthcare is not exempt from these breakthroughs in technology. The convergence of technology and medicine is unleashing a health revolution, empowering individuals, and transforming the way healthcare is delivered across the globe.
In this article, we will embark on a captivating journey into the realm of digitization in healthcare. From futuristic advancements to practical applications, we explore how the integration of cutting-edge technologies is redefining the boundaries of what was once thought possible. We will shed light on the benefits and potential challenges of digitization in healthcare as well as the trends of the future.
What is Digital Transformation in Healthcare?
The term digital transformation describes adjustments made to digital technology in the healthcare sector. In order to enhance healthcare delivery and solve medical issues, healthcare institutions must embrace cutting-edge digital technologies. Massive amounts of data can be generated, and the quality management of that data can both improve patient care and lower service costs. According to Statista, the global digital health market was valued at over 330 billion U.S. dollars in 2022.
Digital innovation improves patient care, while facilitating and streamlining hospital processes. Digital innovation in healthcare transforms healthcare delivery, lowers costs, and increases access to care. The technologies that propel digital innovation include wearable technology, telemedicine, health information exchanges, artificial intelligence, electronic health records, and other technologies. These technological advancements have increased healthcare services’ effectiveness, quality, and accessibility. According to a report by Global Market Insights, Inc., the global market for digital health is anticipated to develop at a CAGR of 17.4% and reach $426.9 billion in 2027.
As digital technologies center more around patient-centric care, patients end up becoming more satisfied with it. A recent study by Deloitte Inc. found that more than 40% of patients wanted to keep using telemedicine after the epidemic. According to the results of another survey, 92% of respondents anticipated that healthcare digitization would improve patient outcomes.
Benefits of Digitalization In Healthcare
One of the main benefits of using digital technologies is improving patient outcomes. This is in the form of better care coordination, individualized treatment regimens, and increased patient participation. This includes telemedicine and mobile applications for health and wellness that let patients receive medical services remotely. Healthcare professionals can diagnose patients quickly and keep track of their adherence to prescribed drugs.
Digital technologies also help in increasing efficiency and streamlining healthcare processes. Due to the ease with which healthcare practitioners can access patient data when using electronic health records (EHRs), less administrative work is required, and care coordination is enhanced. Patients can use automated online appointment scheduling and billing. This saves time and money and lowers the potential for manual errors. As a result, hospital staff can focus on providing patient care, and resources can be used more effectively.
One of the most cutting-edge technologies of today is robotic process automation (RPA). RPA solutions automate manual procedures reducing errors and increasing security. By automating administrative and clinical processes, there is little room for errors.
Converting manual tasks into digital ones can reduce costs and ultimately conserve resources. The use of electronic health records (EHRs) lessens the demand for paper records and the related costs of maintaining and managing them. Advanced EHR systems are used in medical facilities, and these reductions may even lead to lower overall patient admission costs.
Data-Driven Decision Making
Every day, tons of data are produced in the healthcare industry. Real-time data and healthcare analytics facilitate better decision-making. Patients who are at high risk of readmission or contracting specific diseases can be identified using predictive analytics. Early intervention by healthcare professionals can stop unnecessary hospitalizations. In order to pinpoint opportunities for improvement, visualization of patient outcomes and population health trends is helpful. In this way, accurate and thorough data collection, storage, and analysis can improve patient outcomes.
Access to Care
Providers are better able to connect with patients and deliver care remotely when they have access to digital tools, such as virtual care platforms with video and chat technologies. This helps increase access to care, particularly for those living in remote areas or with mobility issues.
Digital solutions can facilitate provider workflows and ease the burden of their tasks. Many technologies, like EHR, RPA, telehealth, etc., help providers automate much of their workload, giving them more time to work on what they do best: providing care to patients.
Patients may be more involved in their care when they have access to their own health information. They can also alter their lifestyles to improve their health and more effectively manage chronic diseases. Digital technologies help achieve this goal.
Big Data Analytics
When medical information is gathered and preserved digitally, it can be analyzed to spot patterns and enhance treatment. For instance, hospitals can use data analytics to identify patients who are likely to require readmission and take precautions against it.
In the US, administrative costs make up more than 25% of all hospital expenditure. Entering patient notes into an electronic health records system can take up to one-third of a doctor’s time.
The time of a doctor is a valuable resource, and this is not particularly effective. Digitization helps in automating day-to-day tasks of the provider. By automating these processes, medical professionals and clinical staff will have less work to do and more time to devote to patient care.
Collaboration Between Providers
In certain cases, providers might need advice from other healthcare professionals. To create the patient’s overall best medical plan, it is crucial that the many providers stay in touch with one another. Digitization helps providers communicate with each other, share health information, and devise treatment plans collaboratively.
These days, smartphones and wearables are two of the most popular types of technology. Modern smartwatches are capable of taking an ECG, counting steps, and monitoring heart rate. They are, therefore, incredibly beneficial to both regular users and their doctors. The doctor can monitor the patient’s vitals and provide preventative care. Nowadays, real-time data monitoring allows doctors to take preventative action and prevent a terrible event.
Challenges in Healthcare
Keeping patient data secure and private is one of the biggest challenges in healthcare. Data breaches and cyberattacks are major concerns in the healthcare industry since these organizations collect and retain enormous volumes of sensitive information. To protect against data breaches, healthcare organizations must invest in healthcare cybersecurity, which helps them stay safe in times of threat.
Some patients might not have access to the internet, be tech-savvy, or be able to use digital healthcare solutions. Healthcare institutions need to make sure that a hybrid approach to digital healthcare solutions is user-friendly. This could also mean starting training that helps educate patients about the digital technology they are required to use, have a better user interface, and stay up-to-date on the latest updates.
Digital literacy is the capacity to use online resources to find, comprehend, and share information. The likelihood of product uptake may be decreased as a result of inadequate digital literacy among patients and healthcare workers, as many may become hesitant to learn how to utilize this new technology. Stakeholders may struggle with these technologies’ usage and functionality, even after embracing them, making it difficult for them to fully benefit from the product. Moreover, due to a lack of awareness regarding how to use these devices, privacy and security issues may arise.
Sometimes, healthcare institutions lack the infrastructure needed to establish a digital healthcare system, which can be expensive and resource-intensive. For any solution, a cost-benefit analysis is necessary to make sure you are maximizing the advantages of a digital strategy.
Data interoperability has remained a problem for many solution providers and healthcare practitioners because of ambiguous standards for data storage and coding and a lack of unified laws. Numerous data sets go underutilized, and healthcare providers are unable to use this knowledge to raise the standard of patient treatment. To maximize the use of such data, it is crucial that the relevant sector stakeholders achieve regulatory convergence.
The healthcare industry has many difficulties, one of which is the fragmented and complicated regulatory and legislative environment. Many areas approach digital health technologies through a variety of schemes and laws rather than a single piece of legislation. However, they frequently fall short of addressing the special characteristics of such solutions, which hinders the development, introduction, and widespread use of many cutting-edge items.
Many digital health solutions encounter difficulties as a result of inconsistent reimbursement mechanisms. Patients may find it more difficult to get their data if this technology isn’t adopted due to reimbursement issues. This makes it difficult for innovators to justify the cost of such technologies in comparison to their utility.
Data security and privacy are significant obstacles that must be solved in the field of digital health. A data breach may lead to the theft of personal data, the erosion of trust, fraud, and care disruption. As a result, it’s critical that security gaps in digital healthcare systems are addressed, and consumers are informed about the best ways to protect their data. A unified policy framework must be built in order to address issues of data security and privacy.
Adoption of Technology
The simplicity of use, price, and privacy concerns are just a few of the things that can influence a person’s willingness to use digital health solutions. The adoption of such technology can also be significantly influenced by how valuable a given digital health service is regarded to be.
Trends in Healthcare Digitization
The ways in which patients communicate with medical experts are evolving as newer technologies continue to emerge. These technologies are making it easier for people to access healthcare providers, from scheduling an appointment to showing up. A few examples of these include remote patient monitoring and virtual appointments. Virtual appointments are enhancing people’s access to healthcare. Virtual appointments allow underprivileged patients to see doctors in rural or remote places where access to healthcare has typically been constrained.
According to GlobalMed, 74% of millennials prefer telehealth visits to in-person doctor exams. With the help of telemedicine, people are now able to contact doctors and get the care they require, thanks to the development of numerous mobile applications and websites. All of these improvements are contributing to more patient empowerment and improved service in the business.
Personalized care means tailoring a person’s treatment to fit their specific needs and history. They require data and an accurate diagnosis to be effective. When determining therapies, personalized medicine considers genetics, genomes, and all other biological data. Oncology can successfully employ personalized healthcare to treat immunological disorders like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.
According to a CITE Research poll, respondents prioritize personalization in healthcare over other areas, such as consumption and commerce, transportation, or housing demands. Consumers are also willing to pay an additional average of 25.3% for personalization in healthcare, according to the report.
Digital health is the combination of medical expertise and technology to improve patient care and outcomes. Thus, it is now possible to use a smartphone to continuously check if a patient has taken prescribed prescriptions, monitor vital signs, and even tell whether they have fallen in their house by tracking their body temperature and movement patterns.
The utilization of patient data for analytical insights will be the next step in revolutionizing healthcare. Currently, the data processing stage is generally distinct from the actual data collection. In the future, AI will probably support human intervention by remotely and instantly assessing patient data, enhancing the response times of healthcare providers. AI may be applied to the healthcare industry in many different ways, such as by analyzing vast volumes of patient data to find trends, make forecasts, and alert users to potential health hazards.
The utilization of patient data for analytical insights will be the next step in revolutionizing healthcare. Currently, the data processing stage is generally distinct from the actual data collection. In the future, AI will probably support human intervention by remotely and instantly assessing patient data, enhancing the response times of healthcare providers.
Big data enables the extraction of information that is essential for making decisions. In the shortest amount of time possible, this can produce goal-oriented information that can be applied in a problem-oriented and problem-solving manner. It may be able to assist in forecasting the kinds of illnesses and diseases that could cause a significant problem in the future as this technology develops. As a result, patients and healthcare providers may be able to take precautions against certain illnesses.
Blockchain is a digital ledger that enables direct information exchange between two parties. It can help facilitate the transmission of patients’ medical records between service providers, preventing data breaches and lowering expenses. A CAGR of 54.9 percent is predicted for the APAC blockchain in the healthcare market from 2019 to 2028.
Virtual reality has enormous potential in the healthcare sector. Pain, stroke, and numerous mental health conditions like anxiety have all been treated with it. Healthcare experts also use it to hone their surgical and medical abilities. As VR research advances, it may one day be used for a variety of different medical conditions, including the treatment of Asperger’s syndrome and brain damage recovery.
Wearables & Internet of Medical Things
By 2023, the healthcare wearables market will be worth $60 billion, predicts Juniper Research. The global IoMT market will also reach $136.8 billion by 2021, predicts Allied Market Research. Wearables and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) give staff members real-time access to important medical data, enabling them to make deeper, more precise assessments of a patient’s health. Additionally, wearables and IoMT are making it possible for patients and the healthcare sector to collect data and advance preventive medical efforts by intervening before symptoms get worse.
A 3D printer is a tool for producing computer-controlled, three-dimensional artworks composed of solid or liquid materials. Because no materials are wasted during the production process, 3D technology allows for the construction of complicated forms even if no forms are required for their manufacture. In healthcare, 3D models are helpful to gain a thorough grasp of the anatomical specifics of a given patient in order to get ready for difficult operations. The creation of a model begins with MRT and CT data, which is then transformed into a 3D model using specialized software and printed using a 3D printer.
The digitization of the healthcare industry has opened newer dimensions of progress. As the world of healthcare continues its relentless journey into the realm of digitization, one thing becomes abundantly clear: we are witnessing the dawn of a new era, one where innovation, accessibility, and patient-centric care converge to revolutionize the very foundation of healthcare as we know it.