Digital transformation is impacting consumer experience and convenience across industries. However, digital transformation in healthcare still needs to pace up as it is the building block of a patient-centric approach to healthcare. COVID-19 highlighted challenges of the healthcare industry related to the quality, access, and efficiency of our current healthcare system, which further accentuates a low level of digital maturity and preparedness.

Healthcare transformation impacts how health care providers diagnose, monitor, and manage patient health. It aims to provide the agility that will optimize operational processes, compliance, and improve the patient experience while reducing costs.

For instance, digital transformation can address 95% of adverse drug instances like medication errors, overdoses, and allergic reactions. Hospitals can save lives with improved compliance guidelines and incur cost savings of 7-11%.

Because of the stated benefits and necessity in the pandemic, the long-overdue transformation in the healthcare industry has finally gained momentum.

What is Digital Transformation in Healthcare?

Digital transformation in healthcare is the positive use of technology to streamline operations, enhance the patient experience, and make on-demand patient care more accessible and cheaper. 

Technological advancements like online appointments, electronic medical records, and unified platforms for data exchange are all examples of digital transformation impacting the healthcare industry – while also improving patients’ experience and increase interoperability. For instance, the Brigham Health hospital network in Massachusetts allows its patients to book online appointments and receive on-demand care via video chats. The hospital registered a satisfaction rate of 97%, and 74% of patients felt that such an interaction improved their relationship with the care provider. 

5 Examples of Healthcare Digital Transformation in 2021

Here are a few examples of digital transformation in the healthcare industry that have made huge advancements in terms of implementation as of 2021.

1. Virtual Visits & Telemedicine

One of the most prominent technologies in healthcare trends is the growth of virtual doctor visits. These allow patients to meet with their doctors via video chat rather than going to the office in person. The coronavirus pandemic accelerated the adoption of virtual visits, with doctors seeing 50-175x more patients using telehealth than they did pre-COVID-19.

Though it’s tempting to see virtual visits as a fad brought on by the need for sheltering in place, the truth is that this trend was growing even before the pandemic. The percentage of providers offering virtual visits rose from 5% in 2015 to 22% in 2018. And it seems the trend is here to stay—83% of surveyed patients expect to keep using telemedicine going forward.

It’s easy to see the advantages. Doctors can conduct wellness visits, screen patients quickly and easily, and then schedule them for in-person follow-ups if needed. Patients don’t have to spend hours traveling to doctor’s offices and sitting in waiting rooms. The lack of travel also makes healthcare more accessible to people in isolated or rural locations.

Brigham Health hospital network, in Massachusetts, uses virtual visits regularly. Patients schedule appointments online and can use their phones or desktops to chat with their providers via video. The hospital conducted a survey and found that 74% of people felt virtual visits actually improved their relationship with their provider. The visits also help increase the interaction between patients and doctors, helping both parties keep track of symptoms and treatment.

With fewer people scheduling in-person visits, there are fewer people in waiting rooms, and it’s easier to promote social distancing.

Digital Transformation Tip: If you don’t already offer virtual visits, physicians might be resistant to adopting the new technology. McKinsey research found that providers were concerned about telehealth’s effectiveness and about incorporating it into their usual workflow.

To create a smooth digital transformation, answer “What’s in it for me?” by showing providers the advantages of virtual visits. Fewer patients in the waiting room mean less burden on office staff. And virtual visits don’t lower the quality of care—patients can get appointments more quickly and can always come for an in-person follow-up, if necessary.

2. Patient Portals

Another leading technology in healthcare trends is patient portals. These are platforms with which patients can access their health records, schedule appointments, message their doctors, and more. A survey of health systems found that 82% consider patient portals one of their primary technologies for engaging patients.

This trend promotes convenience and transparency. People can easily see their test results, care histories, and visit notes from doctors—all online. They can easily share this data with multiple providers, eliminating the need to call and manually transfer records. This is more convenient for the patient and reduces the burden on office staff.

One example is FollowMyHealth, a platform that multiple healthcare systems use.

follow-my-health-patient-portal-example

With FollowMyHealth, patients can use the same platform for both general medicine and specialist visits. They can message doctors and access their full medical histories, all from one central location.

Digital Transformation Tip: As with any new technology, the key to a patient portal’s usefulness is end-user adoption. Despite its advantages, almost half of the surveyed health systems see portal adoption at 30% or lower among patients. In a patient survey, 41% of respondents said portals are too confusing and hard to use.

Implementing a digital adoption platform (DAP) can help patients learn the portal and use it effectively. DAPs have guided walk-throughs to take users through different features, as well as self-help menus so patients can quickly get answers to their questions.
Using a DAP to help with onboarding can increase adoption significantly, so patients can take advantage of everything the platform has to offer.

3. Data Aggregation

While patient portals help pull together data on the patient end, many hospitals are also working on aggregating back-end data. Currently, doctors’ offices have data coming in from a wide variety of sources, including:

  • Patient-provided data
  • Internal electronic health records
  • External electronic health records (such as from outside specialists or urgent-care centers)
  • Lab results
  • Imaging
  • Insurance claims
  • Data from medical devices
  • Pharmacy data

With all of these sources, it’s easy to overlook important patient medical history data. Data aggregation enables fast, informed patient-care decisions, and doctors don’t have to worry about missing key information.

The top goals driving data aggregation are improved patient care and lower costs. All of the data for a patient is brought together to create a comprehensive patient profile. Having a single source of truth reduces the time staff spend sorting through patient data and paperwork, resulting in lower patient wait times and fewer administrative hours.

Mayo Clinic is pursuing data aggregation by partnering with Google to implement cloud solutions. They use the cloud to host data storage and analytics all in one place. Google’s cloud offers a single, secure location for storing, organizing, and accessing patient data, allowing for more comprehensive diagnostics. At the same time, Google’s cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities will aid in the Mayo Clinic’s research efforts.

Digital Transformation Tip: Not only does cloud migration help with data aggregation, but it also reduces the likelihood of system downtime. A recent survey found that unplanned downtime caused 43% of data disruptions for companies with multiple vendors. This resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost productivity and finding solutions.

Because of cloud applications’ distributed nature, the likelihood that you will experience a complete data disruption is much lower. The data is not all stored in a single server, so there is no central point that can fail. Aggregating data and moving to a cloud-based system will help hospitals provide better, faster patient care with less administrative work.

4. AI Screening

One other growing trend for technology and healthcare is the use of artificial intelligence. Hospital systems have adopted automated voice systems and chatbots to screen patients and reduce the load for patient support staff.

This technology has existed for some time, but many systems started using it more widely when the pandemic increased workloads for doctors and staff. AI screening helps determine who needs care first and directs patients to the correct contact channels. For example, it might direct patients to the main scheduling line or to the pharmacy. This helps reduce the number of people gathering unnecessarily in waiting rooms and takes some of the initial patient contact burdens off of staff.

AI screening can take the form of automated phone systems that collect information and route callers to the correct person, reducing hold times and transfers. Chatbots can also screen patients and help schedule virtual or in-person visits. This automated scheduling is another way AI reduces staff workload.

One example is the Partners HealthCare Covid-19 Screener. It is a chatbot that determines whether patients need a COVID-19 test.

partners-healthcare-ai-screening-chatbot-example

The bot asks a series of basic medical questions, letting the person know whether they should be tested for COVID-19. By screening out people who are unlikely to have the virus, the bot reduces the number of people waiting for tests.

Digital Transformation Tip: Even if you’re not in healthcare, AI and automation can free up employees from administrative tasks. Use chatbots and online calendars so customers can schedule appointments, and set up automated email appointment reminders. You can also use phone automation to direct callers to the right department. This type of AI frees up your employees to focus on other company priorities.

Though the pandemic has accelerated several of these technology and healthcare trends, the long-term advantages of each are clear: virtual visits, patient portals, data aggregation, and AI screening all improve patient care and lessen the administrative workload for healthcare staff. transformation, answer “What’s in it for me?” by showing providers the advantages of virtual visits. Fewer patients in the waiting room mean less burden on office staff. And virtual visits don’t lower the quality of care—patients can get appointments more quickly and can always come for an in-person follow-up, if necessary.

5. COVID-19 Contact Tracing

Smartphone apps like Trace Together, Covid Watch, and HaMagen are examples of post-COVID digital transformation coming in handy for contract tracing to track those people infected with COVID-19, provide the latest communication to the citizens, and issue guidelines for self-quarantine.

Effect of COVID-19 on the Healthcare Industry

COVID-19 has led to the loss of lives across the world. Nations are focussing most of their resources to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus, which is impacting the treatment of chronic or episodic conditions. 

The pandemic has disrupted the consistency of National Health Expenditures, with massive small-term expenditures in healthcare. On the other hand, deferred treatment, curtailment of various services to avoid infection risks have resulted in a decreased health spending. Apart from the economic impact on the healthcare system, a few other noticeable effects are as follows:

1. Overwhelmed Healthcare Infrastructure

The global health emergency has overwhelmed the healthcare infrastructure of even the most advanced nations. People have experienced a shortage of beds, healthcare workers, and other medical aids. To address this, a major chunk of patients have adopted home-health care. McKinsey suggests that of people seeking healthcare, only 17% of people were admitted in the hospitals for moderate care while 7% got admissions for critical conditions.

2. Accelerator for Digital Transformation in Healthcare

COVID-19 is an accelerator for transformation in healthcare. High optimism and positive sentiments related to digital healthcare have resulted in significant growth. 

Worldwide corporate funding for digital health companies has doubled to $21.6bn. Investment in telemedicine alone has reported an impressive figure of $4.3bn. Additionally, the US witnessed the largest deal in the sector when telemedicine provider Teladoc acquired digital disease management company Livongo Health for $18.5bn in October 2020. 

3. Digital Supply Chain

The pandemic has disrupted supply chains for all businesses. Since the survival of people is at stake, therefore, the healthcare industry needs to ramp up its response time and contingency planning more than any other industry. 60% of organizations are looking at increasing their investment in the digital supply chain with an increased focus on automation, AI/ML, and robotics, according to Capgemini. 

For instance: Melbourne Health Logistics has undertaken a Supplier Improvement Pilot Project, which involves 10 Australia-based SMEs and aims to address the challenges in supply chain and inventory management through digitization. Three key focus areas of the project are- implementation of data capturing technologies, improving data quality, and introducing suppliers to the use of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). It further partnered with the federally-funded AusIndustry Entrepreneurs program to empower suppliers to develop digital capability.

To optimize the digital-first approach and create a healthcare system conducive to patients’ needs, it’s essential to explore the technology trends in digital healthcare.

Drive digital transformation at your healthcare-based organization with Whatfix

Discover how Whatfix’s Digital Adoption Platform can help your healthcare organization create interactive training and on-demand product tutorials with constant support for your healthcare employees – simplifying the digital transformation process.

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8 Digital Healthcare Trends in 2021

Here is how following digital transformation trends are contributing to the digitalization of the healthcare world:

1. Telehealth

Telehealth is transforming the way patients interact with healthcare providers. Some of the most impactful technologies under telehealth are- patient portals, telemedicine, mobile health (mHealth), video conferencing, remote patient monitoring. Telehealth is actively being used during the pandemic to increase patient engagement and reduce the burden on hospitals and healthcare centers. 

Telehealth can also be clubbed with IoT devices and wearables to effectively manage high-risk patients by tracking their activity data. COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition conducted a Telehealth Impact Study to gauge the experience of patients. Some of the interesting findings are as follows-

  • 83% of patients felt the patient-physician communication was strong
  • 79% of patients indicated that they were satisfied with their telehealth visit 
  • 67% of patients had fewer costs related to their telehealth visit vs. an in-person visit

2. Artificial Intelligence & Healthcare

AI represents the epitome of innovation in healthcare. It is not only critical for elevating patient experience but also finds application in medical imaging, precision medicine, drug discovery, and genomics. For instance- In Oncology, AI can analyze thousands of pathology images of different types of cancers and suggest the best possible anti-cancer drug combination.

Additionally, AI-based technology finds usage in chatbots and virtual assistants. Droids like Moxi are designed to assist nurses with routine tasks. Also, AI can slash the drug discovery timelines by four years to generate savings of up to 60%.

3. Data Management & Patient Analytics

The healthcare industry depends heavily on Electronic Health Records (EHR) to manage patients’ data in one place. However, because of manual data entry, there is a scope of human error. Therefore, healthcare providers are gradually shifting to better technologies like big data, blockchain, and wearables for obtaining, managing, and analyzing data.

4. Big Data & Hospitals

Hospitals can collect data from a wide array of sources to provide data-driven actionable insights. Big data can be used to predict the number of patients expected in a hospital to improve staffing. Resource Management is crucial considering how overwhelmed healthcare staff has been during the pandemic. Big data analytics can further be used for real-time alerts and informed strategic planning.

5. Blockchain & Medical Records

Blockchain simultaneously registers every transaction, and detects any conflicting information, thereby offering 100% accurate and decentralized data. Countries like Australia & UK are leveraging blockchain to manage medical records. Blockchain startups like Medicalchain maintain records on a distributed ledger. It allows patients to manage their EHRs through an app, and doctors, pharmacists, insurers need to request access to their data.

6. Wearable Technology Monitoring Health

Wearable technology ensures preventive healthcare by allowing patients to monitor their internal conditions. For instance, the use of oximeters has increased during COVID-19 to check the patient’s oxygen level. Smart watches and fitness bands regularly monitor health of a person and provide recommendations. Apple watch can send realtime alerts to doctor and family if the person experiences atrial fibrillation.

7. Virtual Reality for Patient Treatment

Research suggests that the global virtual and augmented reality in healthcare will reach $5.1 billion by 2025. VR is profoundly changing the way patients get treatment. It’s a safer and more efficient alternative to drugs. It finds application in the treatment of chronic pain, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and stroke.

8. IoT & Patient Interaction

IoT changes the way healthcare providers interact with patients. With IoT-based wearable devices, healthcare professionals can actively track data for more critical patients. Hospitals can also use IoT for asset management by tracking the real-time location of medical devices like nebulizers, oxygen pumps, and wheelchairs. It can contribute massively to digital transformation in healthcare with the data generated and captured by the IoT devices.

However intuitive these technological trends seem, digital adoption in healthcare is still low. Only 7% of companies have gone digital in the healthcare segment as compared to 15% in other industries.

Conclusion: How digital adoption platforms (DAP) helps hospitals & healthcare provides embrace new technologies

Users of digital health applications like healthcare workers, patients, insurance companies, and third parties are not essentially digitally-enabled demographics and need support in using these technologies. Whatfix’s DAP can guide healthcare employees and patients to navigate the application seamlessly by providing them step-by-step guidance via interactive walkthroughs. Whatfix can improve digital adoption in healthcare as it leverages learning in the flow of work and can be your partner in change by providing personalized experience, on-demand support & training. 

To learn more about Whatfix’s DAP, schedule a demo today with our transformation experts.

How Cardinal Health uses Whatfix for its Digital Transformation
See how Cardinal Health's employees learn in the flow of work with the Whatfix Digital Adoption Platform
Digital transformation is impacting consumer experience and convenience across industries. However, digital transformation in healthcare still needs to pace up as it is the building block of a patient-centric approach to healthcare. COVID-19 highlighted challenges of the healthcare industry related to the quality, access, and efficiency of our current healthcare system, which further accentuates a low level of digital maturity and preparedness. Healthcare transformation impacts how health care providers diagnose, monitor, and manage patient health. It aims to provide the agility that will optimize operational processes, compliance, and improve the patient experience while reducing costs. For instance, digital transformation can address 95% of adverse drug instances like medication errors, overdoses, and allergic reactions. Hospitals can save lives with improved compliance guidelines and incur cost savings of 7-11%. Because of the stated benefits and necessity in the pandemic, the long-overdue transformation in the healthcare industry has finally gained momentum.

What is Digital Transformation in Healthcare?

Digital transformation in healthcare is the positive use of technology to streamline operations, enhance the patient experience, and make on-demand patient care more accessible and cheaper.  Technological advancements like online appointments, electronic medical records, and unified platforms for data exchange improve the patients’ experience and increase interoperability. For instance, Brigham Health hospital network in Massachusetts allows its patients to book online appointments and receive on-demand care via video chats. The hospital registered a satisfaction rate of 97%, and 74% of patients felt that such an interaction improved their relationship with the care provider.  Smartphone apps like Trace Together, Covid Watch and HaMagen are coming in handy to track infected people, provide the latest communication to the citizens, and issue guidelines for self-quarantine.

Effect of COVID-19 on Healthcare

COVID-19 has led to the loss of lives across the world. Nations are focussing most of their resources to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus, which is impacting the treatment of chronic or episodic conditions.  The pandemic has disrupted the consistency of National Health Expenditures, with massive small-term expenditures in healthcare. On the other hand, deferred treatment, curtailment of various services to avoid infection risks have resulted in a decreased health spending. Apart from the economic impact on the healthcare system, a few other noticeable effects are as follows- Overwhelmed Healthcare Infrastructure- The global health emergency has overwhelmed the healthcare infrastructure of even the most advanced nations. People have experienced a shortage of beds, healthcare workers, and other medical aids. To address this, a major chunk of patients have adopted home-health care. McKinsey suggests that of people seeking healthcare, only 17% of people were admitted in the hospitals for moderate care while 7% got admissions for critical conditions. Accelerator for Digital Transformation in Healthcare- COVID-19 is an accelerator for transformation in healthcare. High optimism and positive sentiments related to digital healthcare have resulted in significant growth.  Worldwide corporate funding for digital health companies has doubled to $21.6bn. Investment in telemedicine alone has reported an impressive figure of $4.3bn. Additionally, the US witnessed the largest deal in the sector when telemedicine provider Teladoc acquired digital disease management company Livongo Health for $18.5bn in October 2020.  Digital Supply Chain- The pandemic has disrupted supply chains for all businesses. Since the survival of people is at stake, therefore, the healthcare industry needs to ramp up its response time and contingency planning more than any other industry. 60% of organizations are looking at increasing their investment in the digital supply chain with an increased focus on automation, AI/ML, and robotics, according to Capgemini.  For instance: Melbourne Health Logistics has undertaken a Supplier Improvement Pilot Project, which involves 10 Australia-based SMEs and aims to address the challenges in supply chain and inventory management through digitization. Three key focus areas of the project are- implementation of data capturing technologies, improving data quality, and introducing suppliers to the use of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). It further partnered with the federally-funded AusIndustry Entrepreneurs program to empower suppliers to develop digital capability. To optimize the digital-first approach and create a healthcare system conducive to patients’ needs, it’s essential to explore the technology trends in digital healthcare.

Digital Healthcare Trends

Here is how following technology trends are contributing to digital healthcare- Telehealth- Telehealth is transforming the way patients interact with healthcare providers. Some of the most impactful technologies under telehealth are- patient portals, telemedicine, mobile health (mHealth), video conferencing, remote patient monitoring. Telehealth is actively being used during the pandemic to increase patient engagement and reduce the burden on hospitals and healthcare centers.  Telehealth can also be clubbed with IoT devices and wearables to effectively manage high-risk patients by tracking their activity data. COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition conducted a Telehealth Impact Study to gauge the experience of patients. Some of the interesting findings are as follows-
  • 83% of patients felt the patient-physician communication was strong
  • 79% of patients indicated that they were satisfied with their telehealth visit 
  • 67% of patients had fewer costs related to their telehealth visit vs. an in-person visit
Artificial Intelligence- It represents the epitome of innovation in healthcare. It is not only critical for elevating patient experience but also finds application in medical imaging, precision medicine, drug discovery, and genomics. For instance- In Oncology, AI can analyze thousands of pathology images of different types of cancers and suggest the best possible anti-cancer drug combination. Additionally, AI-based technology finds usage in chatbots and virtual assistants. Droids like Moxi are designed to assist nurses with routine tasks. Also, AI can slash the drug discovery timelines by four years to generate savings of up to 60%. Data Management & Analytics- Healthcare industry depends heavily on Electronic Health Records (EHR) to manage patients’ data in one place. However, because of manual data entry, there is a scope of human error. Therefore, healthcare providers are gradually shifting to better technologies like big data, blockchain, and wearables for obtaining, managing, and analyzing data.
  • Big Data- Hospitals can collect data from a wide array of sources to provide data-driven actionable insights. Big data can be used to predict the number of patients expected in a hospital to improve staffing. Resource Management is crucial considering how overwhelmed healthcare staff has been during the pandemic. Big data analytics can further be used for real-time alerts and informed strategic planning.
  • Blockchain- Blockchain simultaneously registers every transaction, and detects any conflicting information, thereby offering 100% accurate and decentralized data. Countries like Australia & UK are leveraging blockchain to manage medical records. Blockchain startups like Medicalchain maintain records on a distributed ledger. It allows patients to manage their EHRs through an app, and doctors, pharmacists, insurers need to request access to their data.
  • Wearables- Wearable technology ensures preventive healthcare by allowing patients to monitor their internal conditions. For instance, the use of oximeters has increased during COVID-19 to check the patient’s oxygen level. Smart watches and fitness bands regularly monitor health of a person and provide recommendations. Apple watch can send realtime alerts to doctor and family if the person experiences atrial fibrillation.
Virtual Reality- Research suggests that the global virtual and augmented reality in healthcare will reach $5.1 billion by 2025. VR is profoundly changing the way patients get treatment. It’s a safer and more efficient alternative to drugs. It finds application in the treatment of chronic pain, post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and stroke. IoT- IoT changes the way healthcare providers interact with patients. With IoT-based wearable devices, healthcare professionals can actively track data for more critical patients. Hospitals can also use IoT for asset management by tracking the real-time location of medical devices like nebulizers, oxygen pumps, and wheelchairs. It can contribute massively to digital transformation in healthcare with the data generated and captured by the IoT devices. However intuitive these technological trends seem, digital adoption in healthcare is still low. Only 7% of companies have gone digital in the healthcare segment as compared to 15% in other industries.

How a DAP Helps in Embracing Digital Technologies?

Users of digital health applications like healthcare workers, patients, insurance companies, and third parties are not essentially digitally-enabled demographics and need support in using these technologies. Whatfix DAP can guide healthcare employees and patients to navigate the application seamlessly by providing them step-by-step guidance via interactive walkthroughs. Whatfix can improve digital adoption in healthcare as it leverages learning in the flow of work and can be your partner in change by providing personalized experience, on-demand support & training.  To learn more about Whatfix DAP, schedule a demo with our transformation experts.

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