By Ed Shepherdson, chief growth officer at Tr3Dent
With the pandemic completely transforming the healthcare landscape and resulting in a surge of new digital health applications, Frost & Sullivan projects that disruptive innovation will propel the healthcare market to hit over $2.6 trillion by 2025.
While this should come as no surprise for hospital CIOs who have spent the last 18 months completely rethinking their technology strategies, many still wonder, “How do I make my organization more agile in the face of all these changes?” There is no easy answer to this question. Especially in a heavily regulated industry comprised of increasingly complex ecosystems as many healthcare organizations rapidly move data to the cloud and trends like virtual care and health IoT create new attack vectors for cybercriminals.
Fortunately, organizations can prime themselves for future success, backed by a thorough understanding of the various technologies revolutionizing the healthcare space and a well-informed, multi-faceted digital transformation strategy. Below I list four key benefits that organizations unlock when they undergo successful transformations.
1. Robust Business Continuity Plans
The COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed a massive disruption to the medical supply chain. As a result, organizations everywhere faced shortages of the personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical devices needed by frontline healthcare workers fighting the pandemic. Now, with digital technologies like ecosystem modeling tools, hospitals and clinics can bolster their supply chain management processes by creating more robust business continuity plans by modeling their ecosystems and identifying the gaps in their operations.
Equipped with a more thorough understanding of their ecosystems, healthcare executives can expand their network of medical equipment and device suppliers to prepare for future supply chain failures. To boost visibility, further strengthen supply chain protection and eradicate cost efficiencies, healthcare CIOs can keep track of equipment in their facilities by implementing real-time location service solutions. Plus, by mitigating the risk of medical supply chain crises, hospitals realize another critical benefit of digital transformation – superior employee experience and safety.
2. Cutting-Edge Patient Experience and Access to Care
In parallel to creating new challenges for healthcare employees, remote monitoring and telehealth devices create new opportunities to bridge the gap in care models. In theory, everyone should have access to great care, but it took a global pandemic for this to even begin to make this a reality. With on-demand, virtual healthcare services of all kinds at our fingertips, providers are empowered to reach patients in “healthcare deserts” or rural areas that are medically underserved.
Plus, with at-home digital health solutions communicating more seamlessly with hospital IT infrastructure, we’re trailblazing interoperability between health IT systems and personal health devices that consumers already understand, trust and love (i.e., Aura rings, Apple watches, etc.) Consequently, these trends make receiving care more convenient and create a more health-centric population. But first, the healthcare industry must certify that the sensitive information exchanged between these devices is secure.
3. Improved Training Programs, Critical New Skillsets and Unparalleled Employee Experience
As mentioned, digital transformation can pay off big in terms of employee experience. With any transformation comes the need for new skillsets, which means organizations will have to retrain their staff to leverage newly adopted technologies effectively. At first, these trainings may come as a burden for overextended healthcare workers, but, in the end, these skills will help streamline employee workflows – from care delivery to billing – and boost safety precautions and profit. When hospitals transitioned to remote care models, the use of remote monitoring devices and telehealth solutions exploded, creating unfamiliar new challenges for healthcare workers. Suddenly, healthcare professionals were required to interact with complex new healthcare solutions onsite and tasked with understanding a whole new set of patient monitoring tools at home with their patients.
Further, as predictive analytics continues to help forecast events or outcomes before they occur, adapting to this breakthrough technology presents many obstacles for healthcare workers. However, once hospitals establish structured, continuous employee training programs, healthcare workers will save more lives, operate at higher capacities and limit their exposure to dangerous illnesses thanks to home care models. Plus, more capable employees will translate into increased trust, which is critically important to another aspect of healthcare digital transformation – patient experience.
4. More Secure Electric Health Records Trailblaze New Cybersecurity Standards
Digital transformation in healthcare also creates a unique opportunity for organizations to take cybersecurity to new levels to better protect patient data and avoid the irreparable damage of a ransomware event. Beyond mitigating security risks, healthcare organizations also must adhere to rapidly changing privacy and security regulations to qualify and retain their security premiums.
While digital skeptics may argue that new technologies create new risks, forward-thinking healthcare executives are leveraging digital technologies to be precise and agile when it comes to delivering secured services. Leading hospitals are taking advantage of cutting-edge solutions of all kinds, such as AI and blockchain, to proactively protect and monitor healthcare data and identify vulnerabilities or secure data and financial transactions between payers and providers.
As we navigate the new normal in healthcare, we witness how quickly disruptive technologies can revolutionize an industry and consumer expectations. While digital transformation will help healthcare organizations discover new ways to establish more effective care models for decades to come, these four benefits will continue to be top motivators for going digital in the near term.