4 Digital Transformation Trends In Healthcare

Digital transformation is the journey of moving from pen and paper to spreadsheets, and to advanced mobile applications, for managing businesses, education, or healthcare.

It is the process of utilizing technologies for creating smooth operations, bringing value to consumers, and making life easier.

The pandemic accelerated digitization by several years. As per a survey, digitization augmented supply chain and customer interactions of companies by three to four years. Also, their digital products have surged by seven years.

Digital transformation has seeped into various industries such as healthcare, automobile, food & beverage, banking, and many more during the Covid-19 pandemic. We will be taking a closer look at digitization in the healthcare industry.

Major Digital Transformation Trends in Healthcare

Here are popular digital trends one must lookout for in the coming years.

1. Telemedicine and Telehealth

Remote care and virtual consultation through telemedicine and telehealth apps surged during the Covid-19 pandemic, primarily due to the need to maintain social distancing. As per a survey in March 2020, the number of telemedicine users increased from 18 percent to 30 percent in America.

Also, lockdown conditions to curb the infection rate of coronavirus led to the adoption of healthcare apps. For instance, a Mckinsey and Company research conducted in 2020 reported that one out of three people canceled clinic appointments due to the Covid-19 crises. Approximately 30 percent were interested in physicians who would offer online consultation.

Medical apps can help to save ample money for a patient on visits or other care measures. As per a study conducted on patients who used the JeffConnect app (Jefferson Health in Philadelphia), each patient was able to save finances from $309 to $1,500.

Insurance companies have their set of concerns regarding telemedicine coverage. The insurers had adopted CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) in March 2020. However, the changes made under CARES were to last for a year until the health emergency was over.

It would cost insurance companies money for making healthcare app coverage permanent. Apart from this, telemedicine and telehealth apps are useful for differently abled people and for those living in remote places.

2. Internet of Medical Things

IoT (Internet of Things) is the network of objects that are embedded with software, sensors, and some other technologies for exchanging information with systems and devices on the internet.

Examples include smart security systems, wireless inventory trackers, biometric scanners, wearable health monitors, and many more.

IoMT or Internet of Medical Things is the usage of numerous IoT devices for healthcare such as sensors for remote monitoring of patients.

IoMT has its usage in glucose monitoring as it is quite difficult to monitor over 100 million U.S. adults who have been diagnosed with either prediabetes or diabetes. It’s inconvenient to record results and check glucose manually. And if tests alter, periodic tests may not detect an issue.

Hence, IoMT is used for monitoring glucose levels and alerting patients when glucose levels fluctuate. Apart from this, IoMT is progressing in anticipating mood and depression. For instance, Google Assistant and Alexa are created to determine mental health issues and help when needed.

Also, Fisher Wallace Stimulator is a device designed to release dopamine and serotonin for stress reduction in patients suffering from anxiety or depression.

Furthermore, wearable IoMT is designed to monitor blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen rate, and many more. The information is stored and transferred to a medical app, so physicians can have access to it.

3.  Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is designed to display human-like actions and behavior such as learning, reasoning, creativity, and planning. Due to these features, AI can be advantageous to healthcare workers and patients in handling chronic illnesses, risk identification, care, workflow management, and automation.

AI can aid to change the outcome of a surgery if it is a complicated procedure. According to research, AI algorithms can estimate the long-term survival of patients post cardiac surgery. Furthermore, in an AI-based robotic surgery, a surgeon handles the robotic suturing. The AI driven robots can offer 3-D magnification to perform surgery with precision stitching and cutting.

Also, AI is being used for drug discovery because it has the capacity to make procedures cost-effective and fast in a complex drug discovery. Several pharma and biotech companies are investing in artificial intelligence for drug discovery.

For instance, Recursion Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company based in the USA, declared $12.9 million Series A funding with significant investors for drug discovery using AI.

Moreover, AI is essential for detecting severe and fatal diseases. Research published by IBM in Radiology; it’s new artificial intelligence model can anticipate the development of breast cancer in people within a year as compared to the radiologists.

Apart from this, AI is used for analyzing unstructured data, predictive analytics, and assisting physicians during emergencies.

4. Connected Network

A holistic healthcare information technology is improving data management, patient services, and interoperability. Interconnectivity of medical devices and healthcare technologies such as mobile applications, wearable devices, and EMR real-time data is shared with healthcare providers. This assures efficient and faster workflow of the physicians.

Advances in technology is synergizing healthcare professionals, medical facilities, and other domains. As per a report by IBM, 43% of the healthcare workers state that the boundaries between other industries and healthcare is fading.

Challenges Faced in Digital Transformation

For healthcare to succeed in digitization, the following challenges must be addressed.

1. Cybersecurity

A patients’ data is personal, which is known only to the healthcare professionals. Breaching this private information can harm patients’ privacy and put him/her in danger.

Loss of reputation, fraud, discrimination, and other dangers are some of the consequences of privacy breach. Hence, to prevent breach of privacy, all healthcare devices and applications are HIPAA compliant.

A ransomware attack on a medical facility through patients’ linked devices can hamper a hospital’s reputation and safety of privacy.

2. Interoperability

Interoperability is a major challenge in healthcare. As per Pew survey in 2020, 81 percent of adults support growing access to health data for physicians and patients. But the required level for interoperability is absent. Also, missing data, misrepresentation of information, and data errors are hampering interoperability.

3. Budget and Resources

Around 20 percent of companies have a budget of $10 million on digital transformation ventures. The budget is required to manage issues impacting on users, build new services, and innovate features.

During digitization money can be lost due to inefficient procedures, operations that don’t last, and applications which aren’t useful to consumers.

Digital transformation is the next big step in Healthcare

Digital transformation is the next big step in the 21st century. Its growth in the healthcare sector is saving lives and countering chronic illnesses, which otherwise seemed fatal. Though it has its set of challenges, investing in the digital space can prove to be useful in the coming years.