With an ageing population on the rise and growing pressures on government expenditure, the healthcare model is becoming increasingly unsustainable. That said, this does not necessarily need to be the way going forward. The healthcare system has the capacity to profoundly change, evolve and reap the benefits of a digital transformation journey – particularly as the status quo becomes less of an option with each year that passes.

Even though the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) has become a widely utilised technology in healthcare, this system fails to support a value-based healthcare environment. What the healthcare sector needs is a solution that allows EMR and the care continuum to work together. It should be a solution that shifts systems from a reactive approach, to one that focuses on prevention. Instead of passive consumption when it comes care, the healthcare system should allow patients to actively participate in their own well-being. It’s time to reimagine healthcare with digital transformation.

What is blocking the healthcare sector from digital transformation?

Cost
Digital transformation comes at a cost and with reduced budgets it can be easy to write off digital development or put it in the ‘next year’ basket. However, it is also easy to forget that an effective digital transformation journey can reduce costs greatly in the long term and keep an organisation ahead of the wave with growing user expectations. The time is now, don’t get left behind.

Resource
There is truth in the buzzword’s slogan, digital transformation is a journey, not a destination. People are at the centre of this journey, both as participants and drivers in change. A major challenge for the health sector lies in over-extended resource. This makes it difficult for providers to offer savvy leaders with the foundations needed for successful digital transformation. In a public sector survey conducted by Deloitte in 2015, it was found that 89% of healthcare respondents felt that leadership was a challenging area blocking the digital transformation journey. To move forward, the healthcare sector needs to invest in resources, leadership and the upskilling of current employees, so they can feel empowered by a change in approach.

How can we reimagine the healthcare system through technology?

  1. Adopting a Coordinated Care Model
  2. A holistic and accurate view of the patient is crucial to successful coordinated care. Technologies such as Patient Relationship Management (PRM) systems enable providers to utilise a complete health picture through a 360-degree view of patient interactions and activities across departments. This collates information from all service providers across the care continuum. Be it nurses, therapists or physicians, the customer-centric model of PRM gives all providers a single view of a patient’s demographic data, medical history, clinical outcomes as well as pharmacy information. This empowers the patient and the providers alike, addressing fragmentation which in turn reduces risk and increases efficiency via streamlined inter-department communication. With PRM the healthcare system can effectively deliver an end to end, quality, integrated level of care that is tapered to the patient’s needs.

  3. Empowering the Patients
  4. Imagine a world where patients can regulate their own health and become active partners in their own care. This is made possible by the adoption of modern technology in the sector. The empowerment of patients is vital to the digital transformation story of healthcare. Already in the personal training industry we are seeing an integration between wearables, mobile technology and fitness. Connected to larger dashboards, apps proactively tell customers to run faster, eat less, eat more, eat better and sleep. There is no reason why the health sector can’t borrow from this approach and utilise data to make decisions or send push notifications concerning the patient’s or even the population’s state of health.

    Through integrated health portals and mobile apps, patients can consume knowledge wherever they are and at whichever time is suitable. Finally, patients can manage their medical appointments and reach out for help when required. Particularly in the case of patients with chronic diseases, portals and mobile healthcare helps them manage their conditions and make informed decisions about their health. This makes health a personal choice and allows for more effective allocation of what is currently stretched resources.

  5. Supporting Population Health Through Care Everywhere.
  6. The future of the healthcare system needs to support the population and motivate individuals to stay healthy, wherever they are located. If there is a beating heart of better healthcare systems, it’s prevention and pro-active outreach. Advanced data analytics can drive healthcare in this direction. Through analytics, healthcare providers can take pre-emptive measures in recommending changes to a patient’s health and wellbeing. Moreover, through data at scale, healthcare providers can identify at-risk populations through clinical, behavioural and social data. From here they can develop targeted campaigns that encourage healthy and preventative behaviours.

    It’s time to put health in the pockets of the population and make it the new norm. Already we are seeing technologies such as smart pill bottles, which notify patients to take medication, tell caregivers whether the bottle has been opened and even gauge if the patient has indigestion. The popular uptake of wearables also plays a key role, as they can push a patient’s current readings to the PRM system for the health provider’s analysis. Telemedicine and instant messaging can allow healthcare providers can see and connect with the patient remotely via a video system or mobile device. In turn, healthcare will become more accessible for those living in remote areas. By use of technology, the care provider always has the necessary information to perform examination and give more accurate diagnosis, even if they are not in the same room as the patient.

Conclusion

Digital transformation in healthcare will redefine what it means to see a doctor. However, shaping the future of healthcare is no easy task and depends upon the identification of the benefits by healthcare leaders. By bringing the right technology to the health sector and educating leaders in the industry on a value-based model, transformation is well within reach. Technology should enable patients to take control of their own conditions whilst allowing the healthcare system to more intelligently allocate their resources, save time and reduce costs going forward. To find out more about digital transformation in the health sector contact us today.

References

  1. NHS@75, Towards a Healthy State: What do the next ten years hold for the NHS?, July 2013
  2. Microsoft, Transformation in Health
  3. Deloitte Digital, The Journey to Government’s Digital Transformation
  4. Gartner, Healthcare Supply Chainnovators, 2015: Collaborative Models in Medical Devices Rise to the Top.
Martyna Marciniak
Senior Consultant at AlfaPeople | + posts