What is Digital Transformation in Healthcare
Digitization processes have taken over the world by storm, but that is no news to a business space constantly being updated. Not too long ago 3G spectrum had blown the globe away with its limitless capabilities. Half a decade later, today, we are talking about the potential of a truly limitless 5G network spectrum that could run cities without ever causing any hindrances. It is quite safer saying that the world has and will always be progressing rapidly in terms of technology. However, a few sectors of the world have been unable to keep up with the benefits of digitization and, as a result, have suffered perennially.
For many industries, adopting and enjoying the benefits of digital transformation is not an easy task. This requires them to invest heavy capital in changing their infrastructure and learn a newer (albeit better) way of doing things. Ideally, this process should reap a harvest divine, but the reality is that it ends up being tedious and time-consuming and, as a result, shoots the industry in the foot when results are not achieved in said time.
Similarly, the healthcare industry is one such industry that has suffered majorly over the last few years. Healthcare is one of the, if not the most important, industries in the business today. This has become even clearer in light of the covid-19 situation. With faster and smoother healthcare, the world can benefit greatly. Unfortunately, the industry is too vast to be able to implement a sudden effective change.
Why is Healthcare Suffering?
There are various reasons why healthcare as a whole is struggling to digitize in a constantly evolving world. Inculcating new healthcare technology is not easy for many organizations, and according to a recent survey, only 7 percent of all healthcare businesses have reached a good level of digitization throughout the world. Some of the primary and fundamental reasons for this are:
- Lack of Infrastructure – While digitization feels easy and seamless on paper, its infrastructure is heavy and is not always feasible. If your house requires a new router, you call the serviceman. If he tells you that he needs to dig holes into a wall to pass a wire or anything else, you usually resolve the issue and get it done within a day. Unluckily, the same is not the case with healthcare. With major hospital buildings, many of these things have to be planned well, and only then can they go ahead.
- Technological Gap – Even with newer and different types of technologies that have fallen into place, digital transformation advantages are not easy to reach. For many in healthcare domains, it can be difficult to adapt to how the new technology works, and this, in turn, can cause a delay in processes that already feel delayed. A better system needs to be set into place that prepares all kinds of healthcare workers for a technological blend and teaches them how to operate such technology at a very basic level beginning at medical schools.
- Inhibitions and Possibilities – Unlike most other industries, one has to be extremely safe in the healthcare industry with what one does. The risk associated with healthcare is a big one, and introducing any form of a technological revolution is always accompanied by the fear of it backfiring. While newer security measures have made it all but safe for such technology to be implemented, the risk associated here is still a big one, and even if there is a 1% chance of things going wrong, it raises concerns.
- Technology Bearers – While technology progresses year after year, the one thing that never seems to progress is people. Newer generating are far more equipped to use technology, but in healthcare, more often than not, the veterans are the ones who are respected. This causes a problem because these veterans find it most difficult to adapt to new technology constantly. Even learning does not necessarily guarantee anything as the technological field is ever-changing. One has to constantly follow the latest technology trends in healthcare to stay updated. This creates major hindrances in the field of technology and is probably the biggest barrier that stops healthcare and many other industries from progressing.
Where is Healthcare Digitisation Headed?
Digitization in healthcare has been a long time coming, but it is still a process that can take longer to finish. The variable truth is that looking at healthcare simply as an industry is too difficult. Each hospital and each organization face distinct challenges from connectivity to staffing. That does not significantly and necessarily mean that it is impossible. But it does mean that the approach to solving the problems that plague the healthcare industry has to be more innovative in nature.
As time continues to pass on, the question does not remain whether or not healthcare should adapt to digitization. It is rather how and when. These days, we often see people put forward the question of ‘How important is technology in healthcare?’
The answer to that has, is, and will always be positive. It has been proven that with technology, healthcare can be serviceable and much more accessible worldwide. One of the major upsides to the inclusion of technology can be databases. Not just for patient files but rather for everything. A comprehensive database available to you at any given moment is bound to do you loads of good. Data storage can also be similarly revolutionized, and it can become a lot easier to access files and records without wasting time. With medical cases, time is almost always of the essence, and data efficiency will take a huge leap towards a world of perfect healthcare for all.
There have been various healthcare digital transformation trends over the last few years. Technology can progress a great deal via the right blend of data management and upscale networks. One of the rather futuristic but possible ideas is to develop a technology to create bracelets for patients to wear in the hospital. These bracelets will always be monitoring the vitals and look out for other developments in the case. Since they will be connected to the high latency 5G network of the hospital, data transmission will be effortless, and it will be a lot easier to get to a patient when required. As these bracelets develop, they could even monitor the patient for early signs that could indicate future problems.
Major Aspects in Healthcare Industry
- Healthcare Convenience
One of the major talking points about this pandemic has been the innovations that have been around it. For the first time, on-demand medical assistance was rolled out to the masses in the wake of hospitals being perpetually flooded with patients or possible patients. This was a vital step across the digital transformation in the healthcare industry. This has opened doors for various new possibilities. One of the major aspects of fulfilling any form of on-demand system is that one has to assume that most of the population has a working smartphone.
More than half the world’s population owns a smartphone today, and even more importantly, a much greater chunk of the population has access to it. This way, it becomes much easier for most people to take an appointment sitting at home without having to travel and wait in lines. If there is a need for a further check-up, it can be arranged for. As more people learn to use this feature, it will become much easier for doctors and potential patients as both time and money will be saved.
- Large-size Management
With the ability to gain information on anyone and anything, big data is proving to be a vital aspect of the future of healthcare. With the help of the vast amount of data collected about patients and other aspects, it will be possible for diagnostics to take a huge leap and have a higher success rate. This will mean that more patients will be diagnosed efficiently.
Big data also helps in management by understanding which role can be played more efficiently. Staffing schedules can be automated via its efficiency calculations, and patients who need treatment can be spotted among those who might not at the moment. By creating an archive of information, diagnostics can even be possible to take over and look into a majority of the everyday cases.
- Big VR Steps Ahead
The power of Virtual Reality has been known to many for a long time now, but just how effective is VR in the world of healthcare? VR’s capabilities are immense when you begin to understand that it can create realities for users. A majority of the psychological cases in the United States today stem from the roots of anxiety. Virtual Reality has found great success in creating soothing environments for patients so that their anxiety does not get the better of them.
Thanks to digital transformation and strategy, it has become possible to use the power of Virtual Reality for a world of things. For example, pain treatment has seen a lot of positive outcomes through simulated environments. If this takes big leaps ahead, we could be looking at saving a lot of money on painkillers and antidepressants that plague the lives of many. This form of treatment also does not have any major side effects and is innovative and effective as per current results. A lot of health care’s today want to invest in this technology to save on their expenses and to take a step towards the future. Unfortunately, it is not affordable for all organizations and is priced quite steep at the moment.
- The Wearable Device Revolution
As we previously spoke about futuristic bracelets for people to monitor their stats, here is an even wider scope idea that could revolutionize the way we approach healthcare. In the near future, thanks to the high bandwidth networks and the presence of smart cities, it will be normal for one to be connected to the ‘grid’ at all times. Fitbit’s today, monitor your heart rate and vitals. They are a good sign of what is to come in the near future.
You could very soon be signing up for a privatized band with your insurance partner hospital, which will monitor your vitals and other stats at all times. Whenever there is something wrong, you won’t even need to call an ambulance for you. The band will intimate the closest hospital of your condition, and an ambulance would be sent to you in no time at all. With these bands, it will be a lot easier for people to get the right medical assistance in time. For people who are not in any condition to explain their symptoms, it will also be a lot easier for doctors to understand what they are going through.
- Smart Healthcare for All
We often see people today ask, ‘What is the future of healthcare technology?’The truth is that there are many possibilities to explore, and it is difficult to stick to one technology and say that it will be a big hit. One of the biggest booms in the near future though could be caused by something very simple, which is Data Analytics. With Big Data information archiving, we open the doors to a world of information that can be interpreted and analyzed. The best thing about having massive loads of information at your disposal is that it becomes a lot easier for you to analyze then and predict the future.
In long strains of data, people often can find patterns that can co-relate to pre-existing patterns and predict where medical situations could worsen and how. Understanding medical data could then be a very technical game, and by staying one step ahead of it always, health care could majorly thrive.
- A Future Filled With AI
AI has dictated how things will go for a while, but with specific technology being developed, it could give us results in days for what would ideally take months or even years. Put, using AI is like creating very specific forms of intelligence to research very specific things. This, in return, saves us a lot of effort and time. As AI designed for certain things gets better, it can better predict where to look and what to look for. This is the power of AI that can unlock a world of possibilities that we were unaware of.
The really good thing about AI is that one does not constantly have to assist it. Coding in archives and the trial-and-error formulations can give it the power to understand dead ends and naturally take better decisions by itself. This can create a very strong digital transformation strategy framework for the future. There are many worries about automation and machine conscience among skeptics in the industry, but AI is in a stage where it will be blooming.
- Blockchain for The Win
Blockchain is a technology that is, more often than not, associated with only Bitcoin. While it is a fact that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies utilize Blockchain, the idea of Blockchain can benefit everyone. In fact, with the safe and encrypted technology of Blockchain, we could see it leading digital transformation in health care. At its core, blockchain technology acts as a very safe ledger to keep an account of things. You can think of it as a very safe file that can store all the relevant information for anything and everything.
The possibilities that Blockchain brings with it are immense, and one has to be a little innovative to get the fully equipped version of it out on the streets. Some start-ups have already started exploring this technology by creating virtual ledgers that can be accessed by a patient’s doctors and other relevant medical experts. Such a system on a mandated app will make diagnostics and progress in health care very easy in the future.
Today, there is a world of possibilities that technology brings with it to the stage. These include some big ideas that may or may not materialize in the future but will certainly change our current realities. This often springs to life, the question of ‘Is technology making our lives better or worse?’
While answering this question is not as simple as a yes or a no. One has to understand that no matter what the state of technological affairs, there will always be some aspects of reality that won’t work very well. That being said, if these perpetual cons come with a set of technologically advanced pros that keep getting better, it is a simple case to make. Technology is the need of the hour in health care and holds the key to unlocking its true potential.
By Andrea Crook
I am Marketing Manager at Digitalize Trends. My role is to research & ideate on trending topics & need to write the niche content as per industry norms. To help & provide relevant information to the community on trending technologies.