What Digital Transformation Means for the Healthcare Industry

Digital transformation concept photoHeraclitus, an ancient Greek philosopher, famously said: “The only thing that is constant is change.” That quote remains relevant centuries later, particularly in the realm of IT. New technologies emerge and seem to evolve at lightning speed. Some examples include how cloud-based solutions, mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) have revolutionized our lives both at home and at work in the past few years.

Meanwhile, as the general population embraces these new types of tech, businesses must also adopt them to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world. As a result, digital transformation has become a top priority for many organizations: By the time 2024 rolls around, more than half of IT spending is expected to go toward innovation and digital transformation, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).

Still, adapting to our current digital age and keeping up with the pace of change in the tech world is much easier said than done. The monumental task of staying modern is challenging for all kinds of businesses: Even those in highly tech-literate industries such as high tech, media and telecom only have a maximum digital transformation effort success rate of 26 percent, according to research from McKinsey & Company.

Organizations in the healthcare industry face a range of unique challenges as they take on the digital transformation process. However, advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and IoT devices can also give providers the tools they need to deliver better care and improve health outcomes while simultaneously containing costs. Here’s an overview of what digital transformation involves for those working in healthcare.

How High-Tech Tools Can Benefit Providers and Patients

Technological advancements like Electronic Health Records (EHRs), machine learning and more are already allowing healthcare practitioners to treat patients more effectively and deliver higher quality care than ever before.

Here are just a few examples of how specific kinds of tech can enhance treatment and help providers do their jobs more efficiently.

1. AI and machine learning can assist with various aspects of healthcare, from aiding with diagnoses based on medical imaging to gathering data on patient populations to filling in fields in smart EHRs, according to TechEmergence and Healthcare IT News.

2. Wearables (e.g., smartwatches and FitBits) can transmit data to providers to allow them to monitor people’s health. Healthcare practitioners and researchers can also use the data for preventive medicine, according to the Forbes article “Top 6 Digital Transformation Trends In Healthcare For 2019.”

3. EHRs facilitate the secure sharing of information between different providers, support more coordinated care, and contain costs by reducing paperwork, among numerous other advantages, according to HealthIT.gov.

Leveraging these advanced technologies to efficiently deliver the best possible care is crucial at a time when an aging population and ballooning healthcare costs pose growing problems for the industry (as well as the rest of the world). The growth rate for global healthcare spending is expected to reach 7.5 percent this year, up from 2.4 percent in 2015, according to a study titled “Digital Transformation of the Global Healthcare Industry” released by Lux Research. Total worldwide healthcare expenditures are projected to exceed $10 trillion in 2020.

At the same time, the number of people 65 and older globally is expected to grow to 1.5 billion by 2050, compared to 0.5 billion in 2010. Conditions related to aging will place an increasing amount of stress on healthcare providers around the world in the coming decades.

Digital tools can give organizations in the healthcare industry the capabilities they need to address these issues in a few notable ways, including but not limited to the following, according to Lux Research:

  • Granting access to new information
  • Automating certain tasks and processes, freeing up human workers to focus on more important projects
  • Revealing new insights that humans couldn’t reach on their own
  • Projecting future outcomes

Obstacles to Adaptation in the Healthcare Industry

Although the successful adoption of new tech promises many potential benefits for both patients and providers, organizations in the healthcare industry orchestrating digital transformation face a few serious roadblocks. The results of a survey of various entities in the healthcare industry (including providers, non-providers and payers) released last year by Healthcare IT News found that while 66 percent of respondents had at least started the digital transformation process, only 7 percent reported a fully executed digital strategy.

We’ve previously covered the biggest IT challenges for healthcare providers, and many of those come into play where the digital transformation process is concerned. Obstacles that can stand in the way of progress can include the following:

  • The need to comply with HIPAA and other regulations safeguarding the security of protected health information (PHI)
  • Achieving interoperability between EHR platforms, according to Healthcare IT News
  • Changing cultures and getting buy-in, according to McKinsey & Company

If you lead an organization in the healthcare industry and would like assistance on your digital transformation journey, our senior technology advisors would be happy to help. We have experience working with clients in the healthcare space, and our company is fully HIPAA compliant. For more information, feel free to contact us by calling 877-599-3999 or emailing sales@stratospherenetworks.com.

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