How is Digital Transformation Driving Innovation in the Healthcare Industry?

Saurabh Singh April 10, 2024
digital transformation in healthcare

With the ever-evolving advancements of digital technology, the healthcare sector has witnessed immense transformation. From IoT-powered wearables to remote consultations, digital transformation in healthcare has significantly redefined the way medical professionals diagnose, treat, and monitor patients, as well as perform other administrative tasks.

According to Grand View Research, the US digital health market was valued at $77 billion in 2022 and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 17.10% from 2023 to 2030.

US digital health market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 17.10% from 2023 to 2030

Digital transformation of healthcare is driving efficiency and innovation in the sector, paving the way for more efficient, economical, personalized, and patient-centric care. By adopting advanced tech solutions, medical institutions can significantly improve staff experience, enhance patient care, reduce cost, optimize operational processes, and enable faster diagnoses.

Furthermore, digital solutions collect, analyze and share vast volumes of data in the most efficient manner, empowering healthcare professionals to identify patterns and detect any anomalies. Consequently, medical institutions can devise novel strategies and provide personalized care, fostering patient trust and loyalty.

In this article, we will dive deeper to understand how digital transformation in healthcare redefines the future of medicine and patient care. We will also look into the changing healthcare ecosystem, the benefits of digital transformation solutions for healthcare, the trends which are pioneering this movement, and the risks associated with complete digitalization in healthcare.

Also Read: How RPA in Healthcare is Revolutionizing the Industry?

What is Digital Transformation in Healthcare?

Digital transformation for healthcare encompasses a set of technologies. These tech solutions enable medical professionals to utilize modular digital solutions to improve patient experience, discover drugs, streamline operations, and make on-demand care more accessible.

Technological advancements like electronic health records, online appointments, telemedicine, SaMD (Software as a Medical Device), and AI-powered medical devices are some of the most remarkable examples of digitalization in the healthcare industry.

These technologies reshape how patients communicate with health experts, how their information is shared with suppliers, and how choices are made about their treatment plans.

Digitalizing your healthcare infrastructure can enhance patient-caregiver relationship

How is Digital Transformation Enabling Better Healthcare?

Digital transformation in healthcare benefits the sector in various ways, transforming how medical institutions perform administrative tasks and patients receive care. One of the most significant benefits of digital transformation in healthcare is the enhanced accessibility of medical assistance.

By leveraging telehealth and virtual care, patients can receive remote monitoring and care from the comfort of their homes. Home healthcare technology has proven vitally crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the global lockdown and the need for social distancing have presented significant challenges before individuals visit healthcare facilities physically.

Furthermore, the digital transformation of healthcare also helps drive efficiency, streamline operations, and reduce costs. For example, automation in administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments and billing has reduced the workload for medical professionals, allowing them to focus more on patient care.

Unsurprisingly, digitalizing the healthcare sector is now the top priority for healthcare leaders as they seek to build resilient and future-proof healthcare systems.

Here are some significant factors contributing to this transformation in the long run:

Non-Communicable Diseases are on the Rise

Chronic diseases/Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are increasingly putting pressure on healthcare systems worldwide. According to WHO, currently, NCDs are the major cause of death among adults worldwide, killing around 41 million people each year, equivalent to 74% of all deaths globally. These numbers are projected to increase in the future as populations continue to age.

Thus, to keep the systems sustainable, there’s an urgent need to employ digital transformation solutions for healthcare. These solutions can help detect and treat diseases faster and more effectively while preventing the onset of chronic illnesses in individuals.

Patients Expect More Personalized Care

As access to information and technology expands globally, patients’ expectations from healthcare institutions have surged significantly. They now expect more personalized and convenient care.

The pandemic has further caused a huge shift in patient expectations. For instance, as per a survey by McKinsey, around 40% of consumers said they would continue to use telehealth in the future, up from 11% before Covid-19.

Medical Institutions Face Staff Shortage

With the ever-evolving demand for convenient and constant care, medical establishments face staff shortages in many parts of the globe. The WHO estimates that by 2030 there will be a global deficit of 10 million skilled healthcare professionals.

According to a report by the Qatar Foundation, WISH, in collaboration with WHO, 23 to 46% of healthcare workers reported mental burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic and 20 to 37% experienced depressive symptoms.

Thus, protecting healthcare professionals’ mental and physical well-being has become more important than ever. Digital transformation of healthcare can help simplify workflows and automate routine tasks, reducing the need for human resources and their ever-mounting strain.

Healthcare Providers Seek Efficiencies to Reduce Costs

One of the major challenges for healthcare systems is that the costs of maintaining health systems and infrastructure keep increasing while reimbursement is under pressure. According to Statista, global health spending per person in 2019 was $1,129 and is estimated to grow by $1,515 by 2050.

However, more money spent does not necessarily translate into better outcomes. In the US, approximately 25% of total healthcare expenditure is wasted – administrative complexity being the major source of waste.

Therefore, reducing waste and improving operational efficiencies has become a key priority for healthcare leaders, and for this, they need data-driven insights to determine where the biggest gains are to be made.

These four reasons demonstrate the urgent need for digital transformation in the healthcare industry to enable new ways of matching supply and demand. Hence, it is justified to state that the future of healthcare systems depends on digital transformation.

The Five-Step Process for Innovation in Healthcare Industry

With the ever-evolving digital transformation in the healthcare sector, there is an urgent need to drive positive change and address complex challenges to embrace innovation strategically. Here is the five-step process for fostering innovation in the healthcare industry. By following these steps, medical institutions can seamlessly address the intricacies of healthcare innovation and pave the way for transformative advancements. Accordingly, hospitals can advance their clinical capabilities, streamline processes, improve patient outcomes, and redefine healthcare digital transformation services delivery.

The Five-Step Process for Innovation in Healthcare Industry

Begin with the Base

Look into what you already have, which includes the existing legacy systems, real-time location systems, patient engagement software, EHR and EMR, telemetry, etc. Once you have the information, figure out what works well for you and what could be improved.

Conduct Needs Assessments

Once you have all the information, engage the design team in prioritizing each department’s wish lists while considering the allocated budget. Next, consider the essential metrics such as HCAHPS scores, ROI, and patient and staff safety satisfaction. Lastly, devise strategies to leverage technologies for achieving those key performance indicators.

Build the Process and Technology Roadmap

Now, it is time to work on the design of the process and tech mapping to determine which aspects can be solved and which should be integrated into technology. Then, move forward with an integrated delivery method, where you clarify the important questions like who would own the project and who would take responsibility for the integration or modernization of legacy healthcare application.

Execution and Delivery

For the successful execution and delivery of the process, partner with a reputed healthcare digital transformation company. The IT consulting firm you partner with must possess comprehensive knowledge of complex aspects, track project progress, strive towards achieving a shared vision, and ensure key performance indicators are fulfilled. Also, your chosen agency for healthcare consulting services should carry the core competency in resolving current and foreseeable challenges.

Provision for Ongoing Support

The final step is establishing a provision to back ongoing support for the smooth digitalization of healthcare. Your digital transformation healthcare provider should provide you with the essential knowledge and expertise to overcome any roadblocks that may come during the digitalization journey.

Now that we have understood the steps that help digitize the healthcare industry, it’s time to dive into some prominent use cases and examples of digital transformation in healthcare.

Real-World Examples and Use Cases of Digital Healthcare Solutions

The main goal of healthcare digital transformation trends is to implement innovative solutions across the verticals that can optimize various operational processes and compliance while managing patient health and reducing costs. To better understand how digital transformation drives efficiency within the sector, let’s discover some remarkable use cases and real-world examples of digital solutions in healthcare. 

Telemedicine and Virtual Visits

One significant impact of digital transformation in healthcare can be noticed in the form of a growing number of virtual doctor visits. In 2020, as the COVID‑19 pandemic brutally disrupted in-person care, everyone’s attention shifted to telemedicine. Accordingly, the number of teleconsultations skyrocketed, enabling patients to schedule medical appointments and consult doctors from their homes via video, audio, and messages.

For instance, Zocdoc is a popular healthcare app that allows patients to find a doctor urgently, schedule online video visits at their convenience, and keep track of their annual checkups.

With the continuous growth in telemedicine, patients living in suburbs or far-flung areas can get timely care without visiting a hospital. This is a more time- and cost-efficient approach than in-person hospital visits.

Related Article: Top trends shaping the future of telemedicine

Zocdoc is a popular healthcare app that allows patients to schedule online consultations

Patient Portals

It is another major use case of digital healthcare solutions, allowing patients to review their health records, check prescriptions, schedule appointments with doctors, and more. As per a survey, 82% of healthcare providers consider patient portals as one of their primary technologies for engaging patients.

This trend promotes quicker and more convenient access to electronic health records and significantly reduces the burden on the medical staff. Patients can also share the data with multiple providers, eliminating the need to call and manually transfer records.

A great example of patient portal technology use is the FollowMyHealth system. It enables patients to schedule appointments with specialists, check their prescriptions and health records, and share their health data easily.

patient portal technology - FollowMyHealth system

Health Wearables

After the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, people have become more conscious of their health. They always look for effective yet convenient ways to track their health metrics. It is why there has been a massive increase in the sales of wearable medical devices. Integrating the devices with innovative tech solutions enables users to get accurate real-time health data and metrics. Some of the common types of health wearables include heart rate trackers, oximeters, and fitness trackers.

For instance, Apple Watch is one of the most popular wearables introduced in the healthcare market. It can track the heart rate, send reminders about drinking water or washing hands, and record body temperature, weight, and periods. Healthcare professionals can further use this data for diagnosis, prescriptions, and more. So, in short, wearables are transforming the healthcare industry and making it more proficient.

Health Wearables

Data Aggregation

While patient portals help retrieve patient data, many hospitals also work on aggregating back-end data. Currently, clinics and hospitals gather data from various sources, such as electronic health records, lab results, insurance claims, medical devices, imaging, and more. Due to the abundance of these sources, there is a potential risk of overlooking important patient medical history information.

Data aggregation enables medical professionals to make faster and more informed patient-care decisions without worrying about missing key information. So basically, this digital healthcare innovation enhances patient care while reducing costs.

For instance, Mayo Clinic utilizes the data aggregation method in partnership with Google by implementing cloud solutions. They use the cloud to host data storage and analytics all in one place.

Disease History Analysis

Nowadays, many tools help analyze a patient’s medical history to give doctors recommendations about treatment outcomes. The company, BostonGene, uses an example of such a solution that helps conduct a profound analysis of a patient’s previous conditions and offers a personalized treatment plan that would potentially deem the best results.

You may like reading: How to recession proof your business using digital transformation solutions

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Top Digital Transformation Trends in the Healthcare Sector

Technology advancements and innovation are the driving force behind the digital transformation in healthcare. Digital technologies have become the future of the healthcare industry and are already revolutionizing the practice of medicine. They have incredibly improved operational efficiency with respect to the guidelines of medical consideration. The change has fundamentally improved the overall experience of healthcare providers and patients. Here are some popular healthcare digital transformation trends, progressively revolutionizing digital health startups and institutions.

1. On-demand healthcare

The healthcare mobile app development domain is stopping into a new era of digital innovation as patients increasingly count on their smartphones to access on-demand healthcare. And this trend is not just user-centric; brands like Nomad Health are enabling their physicians to offer on-demand healthcare services to patients according to their expertise and availability.

Also ReadReasons Why Your Hospital Needs a Mobile Application

2. Big data

The digital healthcare market is set to grow rapidly by leveraging big data as the global healthcare industry works around millions of data every hour. According to Globe News Wire, the global big data market is valued at $337.03 billion in 2023 and is expected to grow $662.63 billion by 2028 at a CAGR of 14.48% during the forecast period of 2023-2028.

global big data market is expected to grow $662.63 billion by 2028 at a CAGR of 14.48% during 2023-2028

Big data, with its power to convert unstructured and structured data into meaningful insights, can offer a plethora of benefits, such as:

Less Rate of Medication Errors

Big data-powered software can flag the inconsistencies between a patient’s health and the prescriptions made out to them. They can then alert the health professionals and patients when there’s a scope of medication error.

Accurate Staffing

Big data can inform hospitals about the estimated admission rate through predictive analysis. This, in turn, can help the facilities allocate the staff necessary to deal with the patients.

Informed Strategic Planning

Big data allows healthcare professionals to analyze the results of patients’ checkups in various demographic groups. They can also find out factors that discourage people from taking up treatment. All these healthcare data can be further used for planning informed strategies.

3. Virtual-Reality Based Treatment

Virtual reality has become an inherent part of the digital healthcare ecosystem. It has been deemed successful in treating individuals with chronic pain in countries that have been struggling with the perils of the drug crisis. In fact, it is not just chronic pain; the technology is also used to treat PTSD, stress, and stroke. Residents and doctors have also become habitual in using VR simulations to hone their skills or devise strategies for complicated surgeries. Everybody is betting on virtual reality for better medical care and treatments, from doctors to pharma. It is one of the reasons why the global AR/VR market is poised to reach $9.5 Billion by 2028.

[Also Read: AR/VR Trends & Predictions for the Upcoming Years]

4. Medical IoT

Despite the long-standing sluggishness in adopting IoT in the healthcare sector, medical IoT is developing rapidly. While the medical IoT may seem complex and contain many solutions, its use cases perform several core functions, ranging from simple tracking solutions to complex automation. These functions serve as the key pillars of a smart hospital, focusing on clinical excellence, patient-centered care, and operational efficacy.

internet of things

5. Voice technology

Voice technology is gaining significant attention today and is estimated to attract greater traction in the coming years, minimizing physicians’ workload by streamlining administrative tasks.

Voice technology

Microsoft and Amazon have been making substantial progress in voice technology. Microsoft has partnered with Nuance Communications to build voice-enabled EHR platforms for clinical intelligence and administrative tasks. And Amazon has built multiple healthcare “skills” on Alexa. These skills can save time and stress by informing patients about the wait time in each clinic or hospital.

Also Read: How Can Google Voice Assistant App Make Your Business Efficient?

6. Artificial Intelligence

AI is one of the most significant trends driving digital transformation in the healthcare industry. According to Statista, the global AI market in healthcare was worth around $15 billion in 2022 and is forecast to grow $188 billion by 2030, at a CAGR of 37$ from 2022 to 2030.

AI is applied in healthcare for drug discovery, medical imaging, precision medicine, and more. For example, in Oncology, AI can analyze thousands of pathology images of different types of cancers and suggest the best possible anti-cancer drug combination. The integration of AI in healthcare has the potential to revolutionize the medical field by enhancing diagnosis accuracy, improving patient outcomes, and optimizing treatment strategies. Also, AI can be utilized in virtual assistants and chatbots to enhance patient experience and improve the efficiency of healthcare institutions. For instance, droids like Moxi assist nurses with routine tasks.

Also Read: Key applications of machine learning in healthcare

7. Telehealth

Telehealth is transforming the ways patients interact with healthcare providers. Some of the most impactful technologies under telehealth are telemedicine, mobile health (mHealth) apps, video conferencing, remote patient monitoring, and more. The use of telehealth skyrocketed during the pandemic as the technology helped eliminate unwanted contacts while allowing patients to manage their conditions. Telehealth can also be clubbed with IoT devices and wearables to effectively manage high-risk patients by tracking their activity data.

Related Article: Top Healthcare Trends That Will Redefine The Industry in 2023

Appinventiv helped YouComm through AI-driven solutions

Digital Transformation Challenges in Healthcare

The wide implementation of healthcare digital transformation use cases across the industry also poses some significant challenges that must be addressed effectively. Here are the most important challenges to consider when embracing digital transformation in healthcare.

Data Privacy

With the industry moving towards digital systems and electronic health records, data breaches and cyber theft risks have become more prevalent. Without enough data privacy controls, the risk of data loss continues to haunt the healthcare industry by great measures.

Limited Resources and Infrastructure

Some medical establishments might lack the necessary resources to embrace digital transformation in healthcare, such as funding, skilled staff, and IT infrastructure.

Resistance to Change

In many instances, healthcare professionals get resistant to adopting new technologies and embracing change, necessitating effective management strategies to accept innovation and usage.

Distributed Workforce

The onset of telemedicine technology trends has made the healthcare domain dynamic and distributed. This necessary shift in digital health strategies can lead to the risk of unauthorized access and improper worker authentication. The situation can worsen when you have no architecture to connect the healthcare providers and their distributed patients.

You may like reading: How to build a medical startup

How can Appinventiv Help in Your Digital Transformation Journey?

As a leading healthcare software development company, we have developed many scalable digital solutions in healthcare tailored to meet the specific requirements of each of our clients. Our team of highly skilled developers has mastered all the latest technologies, including AI, ML, IoT, Blockchain, cloud computing, etc., enabling us to deliver top-notch digital transformation services to address all your healthcare needs.

We have worked with several healthcare companies, helping them embrace digital innovations to improve revenue, reduce costs, and offer enhanced customer experience.

For instance, we worked with YouCOMM to build a multi-request format platform for in-hospital patients to connect with nurses in real time for medical assistance. The system enables patients to call/notify the staff through voice commands and head gestures. Since the launch of the app, YouCOMM has been adopted by over five hospital chains in the US, showcasing its effectiveness and value.

Another noteworthy example is our partnership with Health-eApp, where we created a platform that enables users to store all their healthcare apps and devices’ data and find medical caregivers for their friends and family. We focused on creating a user-friendly application that benefits all stakeholders, including users, researchers, and medical caregivers.

These are just a few examples that give a glimpse of how we help our clients in their journey of digital transformation in healthcare. For comprehensive insight, check out our portfolio or contact our experts to know how we can help you by providing exceptional healthcare digital transformation consulting and other services.

FAQs

Q. What is digital transformation in healthcare?

A. Digital transformation in healthcare is the integration of technology with the healthcare systems to offer better patient care, improve staff experience, reduce cost, optimize operational processes, enable faster diagnoses, and drive efficiency.

However, digital transformation for healthcare is not just about technology adoption. It necessitates a cultural transformation encompassing new business models, innovative perspectives, and a commitment to transparency that you aim to deliver to users.

Q. Why is digital transformation important in healthcare?

A. Digital transformation in healthcare is crucial for several reasons, such as:

  • It enhances the efficiency and accuracy of various healthcare processes, such as appointment scheduling, patient record management, billing, etc.
  • Digital transformation of healthcare enables the seamless sharing of medical data, facilitating better collaboration among healthcare professionals.
  • Digital technologies like virtual visits, telemedicine, etc., allow easy access to healthcare services and facilities.
  • It helps improve patient care, reduces errors, and increases the productivity of medical professionals.
  • Digital transformation allows valuable insights for research, efficient drug discovery, and the development of personalized treatments.

In short, the seamless implementation of the healthcare digital transformation strategy helps revolutionize the industry, improve patient care, increase accessibility, and transform the patient experience.

Q. How has digital transformation influenced healthcare?

A. Digital transformation has impacted the healthcare industry by significantly enabling easy access to medical information and giving patients better control over their health. It results in improved medical outcomes, enhanced communication, and increased efficiency.

THE AUTHOR
Saurabh Singh
CEO & Director
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