How Digital Transformation is Driving Innovation in the Healthcare Industry?

Saurabh Singh June 27, 2022
healthcare mobile app development company

Digital transformation is driving massive improvement and innovation in the healthcare industry. By adopting advanced tech solutions, healthcare institutions can significantly improve staff experience, enhance patient care, and allow better and faster diagnoses. By adopting digital transformation in healthcare, healthcare institutions can also get the agility required to optimize operational processes while reducing costs.
Moreover, collecting and analyzing data provided by digital technologies will help understand the needs and behaviors of target users. This, in turn, will enable healthcare professionals to come up with new strategies to add value and build loyalty and trust with users.

In this article, we will dive deep into the changing healthcare ecosystem and how to avail benefits of digital transformation in healthcare in an actionable way.  We will start by looking at the process of building a roadmap of digital healthcare, the trends which are defining this movement, and the risks associated with the complete digitalization in healthcare.

What is Digital Transformation in Healthcare?

As for the healthcare industry, the term digital transformation means how an organization uses technologies and digital solutions to improve the patient experience, streamline operations, and make on-demand patient care more accessible and cheaper.

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

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

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The Need for Digital Transformation in Healthcare

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital health technologies across healthcare industries. Digitizing the healthcare sector is now the top priority for healthcare leaders as they seek to build resilient and future-proof healthcare systems. Here are four long-term trends fueling this transformation:

Chronic diseases are on the rise

Chronic diseases are placing an increasing burden on healthcare systems worldwide. Today, more than 500 million people suffer from respiratory diseases, while another 400 million have diabetes, and another 1.1 billion adults suffer from hypertension. These numbers are projected to increase in the future as populations continue to age.

Thus, to keep healthcare systems sustainable, there’s an urgent need to utilize digital solutions in healthcare that can help detect and treat diseases faster and effectively – or, better yet, prevent people from developing chronic diseases in the first place.

Patients expect more personalized care

With the world increasingly at their fingertips, there has been a tremendous shift in patients’ expectations from healthcare. They now expect more personalized and convenient care experiences.

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

Healthcare providers are facing staff shortage

As demand for care is significantly increasing, healthcare providers are facing staff shortages in many parts of the globe. The WHO estimates that by 2035 there will be a global deficit of 12.9 million skilled healthcare professionals.

A 2021 survey by Medscape reveals that 42% of healthcare providers reported feeling burnout, with the Covid-19 pandemic adding to the strain for many. Thus, protecting the mental and physical well-being of healthcare professionals has become more important than ever. Utilizing digital solutions can help simplify workflows and automate routine tasks.

Healthcare providers are seeking efficiencies to reduce costs

One of the major challenges for healthcare systems is that costs of maintaining health systems and infrastructure keep increasing while reimbursement is under pressure.

Global health spending is expected to rise at a 3.9% rate annually between 2020 and 2024, up from 2.8% recorded in 2015-2019. 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. Reducing waste and improving operational efficiencies has become a key priority for healthcare leaders, and for this, they need data-driven insights to figure out where the biggest gains are to be made.

Taken together, these four reasons show the urgent need for digital transformation in the healthcare industry to enable new ways of matching supply and demand. It is no understatement to say that the future of healthcare systems depends on digital transformation.

The Five-Step Process for Innovation in Healthcare Industry

In this section, we will understand the five steps that hospital systems can follow to advance their clinical capabilities, respond to the evolving challenges of healthcare today, and attract both healthcare providers and patients. So. let’s dive in!

Healthcare Digitalization process

Begin with the base – Look into what you already have, which includes the existing legacy systems, patient engagement tools, real-time location system, EHR, telemetry, etc. Once you have the information, look into what is working for you and what could be improved.

Conduct needs assessments – Once you have all the information, involve the design team in prioritizing each department’s wish lists within the budget. Next, think about the metrics – HCAHPS scores, ROI, patient and staff safety satisfaction. Lastly, determine how to use technologies for achieving those key performance indicators.

Build the process & technology roadmap – Start with working on the design of the process and tech mapping for determining what can be solved with a process, and what needs to be incorporated into a 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.

Execution and delivery – It is important to be associated with a healthcare software development company that is conscious of all the little details, keeps projects on track, moves towards the fulfillment of a vision, and ensures that the KPIs are met. The agency must know the workarounds of all the present and foreseeable issues.

Provision for ongoing support – The last step is to have a provision to back ongoing support for smooth digitalization of healthcare. Your partnered healthcare software development company should leave you with an architecture and knowledge that would help you cross the digitalization roadblocks.
Now that we have understood the steps that help in digitizing the healthcare industry, it’s time to dive into some of the prominent examples and use cases of digital healthcare solutions.

Examples and Use Cases of Digital Healthcare Solutions

The main goal of digital transformation in the healthcare market is to implement innovative healthcare solutions that optimize major workflow processes and compliances, manage patient health while reducing costs.

For this purpose, let’s now take a look at how digital healthcare is already being used in the healthcare domain.

Telemedicine and virtual visits: One of the prominent changes in healthcare is the growing virtual doctor visits. Patients can now find and schedule appointments with doctors from the comfort of their homes. They can also communicate with healthcare providers in real-time via video calls and messages.

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

With the growth in telemedicine, patients living in suburbs or far-flung areas can get timely care without having to travel to a hospital. This is more time- and cost-efficient as compared to an in-person hospital visit.

In a survey, around 83% of patients expressed that they were ready to use telemedicine, which has become even more popular after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Read more about top trends shaping the future of telemedicine in the healthcare industry.

Use Cases of Digital Healthcare Solutions

Patient portals: Another major use case of digital healthcare solutions is patient portals. These portals allow 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 for 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

However, this digital innovation in healthcare is still in its early stages of use. According to a patient survey, over 40% of respondents find these systems too confusing to interpret and use.

Health wearables: At present, people are becoming more and more conscious about their health. They are always looking for effective yet convenient ways to track their health metrics. Basically, this is the reason why there has been a tremendous increase in the sales of wearable medical devices. The integration of the devices with innovative tech solutions enables users to get accurate health data and metrics in real-time. Some of the common types of health wearables include heart rate trackers, oximeters, and exercise and fitness trackers.

One of the most popular wearables introduced in the healthcare market is Apple Watch. It can track the heart rate, send reminders about drinking water or washing hands, and record body temperature, weight, and periods. This data can be further used by healthcare professionals for diagnosis, prescriptions, and more. So, in short, wearables are making the healthcare sector better and more proficient.

Data aggregation: While patient portals help to pull data on patients, many hospitals are also working on aggregating back-end data. Currently, clinics and hospitals have data coming in from varied sources such as electronic health records, lab results, insurance claims, medical devices, imaging, and more. With all of these sources, it’s possible to overlook important patient medical history data.

Data aggregation enables fast and informed patient-care decisions, without having to worry about missing key information. So basically, this digital innovation in healthcare enhances patient care while reducing costs.

Mayo Clinic is using 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, there are a plethora of tools that help analyze a patient’s disease history in order to give doctors recommendations about the treatment outcomes. An example of such a solution is being used by the company, BostonGene. The BostonGene’s algorithm conducts a profound analysis of a patient’s previous conditions and offers a personalized treatment plan that would potentially deem the best results.

Now that we have looked into a few prominent use cases of digital healthcare solutions, let’s look into some digital transformation trends in the healthcare industry.

Top Digital Transformation Trends in the Healthcare Sector

Technology and innovation are viewed as the main force behind improvements in healthcare services, and, when you take a look at the pace of change and recent developments, many think that it’s hard not to agree with that perception.
Digital technologies have become the future of the healthcare industry and are already revolutionizing the practice of medicine. They have incredibly improved operational effectiveness with respect to the guidelines of medical consideration. The change has fundamentally improved the general overall experience of both medical services experts and patients.
Below mentioned are some of the digital transformation health services trends that have come into existence with the advent of the greater technology adoption by digital health startups and institutions.

1. On-demand healthcare

The healthcare mobile app development domain is entering the digital innovation era as patients have started seeking on-demand healthcare, driven by the convenience of their smartphones. And this trend is not just user-centric. Brands like Nomad Health are also making it easy for physicians to offer on-demand healthcare services to patients according to their expertise and availability.

2. Big data

On average, the global healthcare industry works around millions of data every hour. Digital healthcare market is set to grow rapidly using big data. Big data, with its power to convert unstructured and structured data into meaningful results, can offer a plethora of benefits like:

Lesser rate of medication errors – a big data-powered software can flag out 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 – Through predictive analysis, big data can get hospitals information around the estimated admission rate. This, in turn, can help the facilities with allocation of staff necessary to deal with the patients.

Informed strategic planning – Big data allows healthcare professionals to analyze results of patients’ checkups in various demographics 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.

big data in healthcare

3. Virtual-reality based treatment

Virtual Reality in Therapy Market

Virtual reality has grown to become a very inherent part of the digital healthcare ecosystem. In countries which have been struggling with the perils of the drug crisis, Virtual Reality virtual reality has been deemed successful in treating people with chronic pain. In fact, it is not just chronic pain, the technology is also being used to treat PTSD, stress, and stroke.
In fact, residents and doctors have also become habitual to using VR simulations for honing their skills or planning for complicated surgeries. From doctors to pharma, everybody is betting on virtual reality for better medical care and treatments. This is one of the reasons why the global AR/VR market is poised to reach $5.1 Billion by 2025.

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

4. Medical IoT

Even though the implementation of IoT in the healthcare sector has been slow for quite a long time, medical IoT is developing rapidly. While the medical IoT may seem complex and contain many solutions, use cases can be built around several core functions, ranging from simple tracking solutions to complex automation.

In turn, these functions can serve as the key pillars of a smart hospital: clinical excellence, patient-centered care, and operational efficacy.

5. Voice technology

customer experience in healthcare voice assistance

All the technologies which are directed at reducing the physicians’ workload are bound to get their share of attention today and in the coming years. Voice technology is one of those healthcare software development technologies. It has the capability of easing the physicians’ workload by taking care of the mundane administrative tasks.

Both Microsoft and Amazon have been making substantial progress in the voice technology domain. The former has gone into a partnership with Nuance Communications for building voice-enabled EHR platforms for both clinical intelligence and administrative tasks. The latter, on the other hand, has built multiple healthcare “skills” on Alexa. These skills can save both 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. AI is being 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. 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 are designed to assist nurses with routine tasks.

Add: [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.

expert assistance for digital health business

Digital Transformation Challenges in Healthcare

The wide implementation of innovative technologies in healthcare such as AI and voice assistants comes with several challenges. Here are the most important challenges that need to be taken into consideration when implementing digital healthcare solutions.
Data privacy: With the industry moving towards collaborative care, the risks associated with patient data are now more significant than before. Without enough data privacy controls, the risk of data loss continues to haunt the patient care industry by great measures.

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

How can Appinventiv Help in Your Digital Transformation Journey?

As a leading software and mobile app development company, we have developed many scalable digital solutions in healthcare based on our clients’ requirements. We have a highly skilled team of developers who have mastered all the latest technologies such as AI, ML, IoT, and cloud needed to drive the right healthcare digital strategy for your business.

We have worked with several healthcare companies on different digital healthcare solutions that helped them improve their revenue, reduce costs, and offer enhanced customer experience.

For instance, we helped YouCOMM build a multi-request format platform for in-hospital patients to connect with nurses in real-time for medical help. The system enables patients to call/notify the staff through voice commands and the use of head gestures. Since the launch of the app, 5+ hospital chains in the US are running on YouCOMM solution.

For another client, Healthe People, we created a platform where users can store all their healthcare apps and devices’ data and find medical caregivers for their friends and family. We made sure that the app was user-friendly and benefitted all, including users, researchers, and medical caregivers.

Well, these are just a few examples of how we helped our clients in their digital transformation journey. Check out our complete portfolio here. Or, contact our experts to know how we can help you in enterprise software development for your particular business use case.

Conclusion

Digitizing healthcare, as you must have reckoned up until this point, is the integration of technology with the healthcare systems to offer a better experience to patients and improve the efficiency of healthcare professionals. The end result is highly radical and disrupting.

But, this digitalization in healthcare is not just about technology and the benefits of digital transformation in the healthcare market. An effective healthcare digital transformation calls for a cultural change that consists of the implementation of new business models, new ways of thinking, and being transparent about the value, which you aim to offer to the users.

The intent of this article was to take you through the process of digitization but at the same time make you realize that the change will not just come with the incorporation of technologies. It would require you to bring a radical shift within your internal processes as well.

If you’re ready for such change and process shifts or want to know more about what is digital transformation in healthcare, you can trust Appinventiv. Our experts offer top-notch digital transformation services for all your healthcare needs.

THE AUTHOR
Saurabh Singh
MENTOR & DIRECTOR
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