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The Impacts of Digital Transformation in Healthcare
Technology is transforming the world in so many ways. It has revolutionized the way consumers travel, shop, socialize, and more. And over the last few years, technology has become an integral part of healthcare, radically changing the way patients receive care as well as the experience of healthcare professionals and organizations. The sooner organizations are able to adopt new technologies in healthcare, the more they will be able to help people live longer and lead healthier, more productive, and safer lives.
The digital transformation in healthcare is estimated to reach $210 billion by 2025. The healthcare industry has already seen incredible changes, and it is likely to continue developing, especially for healthcare providers who readily embrace new technologies, adopt new equipment, participate in telemedicine, and more. Patients now have higher expectations when it comes to their healthcare, and organizations are constantly looking for ways technology can improve operations and processes in the workplace.
Digitizing medical records is a big part of the transformation, as about 78 percent of patients prefer to access their medical records online. And almost 60 percent of patients choose doctors who can communicate with them through online access as opposed to over the phone or in person.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the critical impacts of digital transformation in healthcare.
Perhaps the biggest way organizations are revolutionizing healthcare is through telemedicine, or the use of technology to let healthcare professionals examine, diagnose, prescribe medicine, and offer virtual treatment. Doctors and patients can have appointments and communicate through a variety of devices, such as smartphones or laptops, using video meeting apps.
In 2015, only 5 percent of doctors used telemedicine as an alternative to in-person meetings. After the last year of lockdown during the pandemic, the use of telemedicine surged by 6000 percent. Now, telemedicine is basically a necessity for many. Patients are happy with the experience of telemedicine consultations and many have realized that actual face-to-face visits with doctors aren’t always necessary.
Digital transformation allows medical practitioners to collect large amounts of data, which is especially helpful for conducting research, clinical trials, or studies of various sorts. New technologies make it possible to collect data instantly from large population groups. Healthcare organizations can pool the results of various studies to make more advanced predictions and diagnoses, as well as stay updated on new trends and techniques in healthcare. Big data is also useful in identifying risk factors and prescribing new treatments.
Electronic Health Records
As mentioned above, digital transformation has greatly increased the usage of electronic health records. EHRs make safe and efficient record-keeping much easier for clinicians and organizations. They eliminate the risk of losing information when records are physically moved from one department to another. This saves hospital staff valuable time having to search for information or otherwise reclaim lost data.
EHRs are also very helpful for referrals. Previously, healthcare staff would have to search for physical copies of old medical records for each patient, often having to collect records from a variety of sources. EHRs make this type of record keeping much easier by maintaining a virtual database of information in a central location.
Access to Medical Information
One of the greatest impacts digital transformation has had on the healthcare industry is the ease with which healthcare providers can store and access data. Online access makes it easy for healthcare professionals to share medical information with other practitioners and organizations, making it easier to treat patients more effectively. For example, hospital staff can immediately access medical records for a patient admitted to the ER, instead of having to place phone calls and contact various offices to get medical records transferred.
Communication between patients and clinicians is so much easier and simpler than it was before digital transformation. Healthcare professionals can contact patients via phone, email, text messages, video chats and more. And patients can do the same in return. Long gone are the days of waiting days or weeks to be notified about test results or upcoming appointments. New technologies have made communication much simpler, and it has also become much more cost effective.
New Health Apps
With smartphones and other smart devices in such widespread use, the use of health apps is steadily on the rise. As digital transformation continues to impact the healthcare industry, doctors can use health apps to monitor patients and improve patient care. This includes improvements in offering patients quick access to up-to-the-minute medical information, recording patient vitals and stats, monitoring self-reports on various medical conditions, and more. Patients can also receive better care by using a variety of health apps for health-related goals, such as weight loss, quitting smoking, exercise routines, and more.
While existing telehealth services were already in place pre-pandemic, they weren’t in widespread use. Now that stakeholders and patients alike are in need of telemedicine services to provide and receive care, technology infrastructures have changed completely. Not all institutions have the equipment to provide remote consultations and allocate the required staff and resources to telemedicine services. By deploying more sophisticated telehealth solutions, doctors and organizations can expand their reach and their ability to examine and treat more patients in shorter timeframes. This helps to minimize the number of patients going in to hospitals and facilities and greatly reduces the overload and, thus, the strain on hospitals and staff.
The digital transformation is continuously improving healthcare operations and providing medical professionals with the tools and capabilities to better serve patients. From EHRs to monitoring a patient’s vital signs to better communication, advancements in technology are allowing patients to have more comprehensive medical care. The same advancements are making it much easier for healthcare organizations to provide more efficient, effective, and rewarding patient care. It’s up to healthcare organizations to continue to adopt these new innovations — both for the benefit of the patient and for staying competitive in a rapidly advancing industry.