The digital healthcare market is expected to touch $206 billion by 2020, as a joint study by SAP and Oxford Economics concluded that nearly 70% healthcare companies are planning to digitally transform their operations, while nearly 61% believe that this will increase patient satisfaction.
Most healthcare providers today have strong plans for digital transformation, and their efforts are changing the way they deliver healthcare through new and innovative methods. Hospitals today deliver ambulatory, inpatient, outpatient and day surgery services; patient record access; and telemedicine in different ways through their revamped processes and technology-enabled execution. Even as the providers are creating and delivering new digital products and services to improve clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction, they are also finding wholly new business models capable of value generation through new business models. Players like Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Apple are also trying hard to carve out a market share for themselves, with varying levels of success.
As the healthcare sector turns compulsively to adopt a digital strategy, let’s look at how they are reinventing the way they perform through digitalization:
- Using healthcare interoperability to enable the sharing of patient data across the care continuum of healthcare providers and stakeholders to provide coordinated collaborative care to one and all.
- The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is here, in a confluence of IoT, telemedicine and Telehealth technologies, bringing wearable devices like ECG and EKG monitors into use and playing a critical role in tracking vital medical stats to prevent or manage chronic illnesses and to provide virtual care to patients, increasing customer satisfaction in the process.
- Wearable devices are making it possible to monitor patients in real time, obviating the need to physically admit them to the hospital. Virtual caregiving is set to allow aging people to stay home, even as their health status gets monitored for any signs of decline.
- Countries with large populations with limited access to providers are turning to telemedicine, even as physician appointment wait times and Medicaid acceptance rates keep increasing year-on-year. Telemedicine is an important tool which enables even remotely located patients to access specialists as technology make it possible to match the right healthcare professional with the right patient, whether face-to-face or through virtual care portals.
- Automation, AI and chatbots are making it possible for patients to reduce costs as they avoid visiting a doctor and obtain self-care instructions, as we use healthcare data and analytics to enable better treatment plans and patient outcomes.
- Chatbots are making it possible to handle routine medical queries using AI-backed messaging and voice systems, while machine learning improves the abilities of the chatbot with each interaction. They also make appointments, prove prescriptions, run lab tests, provide a smooth billing procedure and track health data.
- AI can replicate the capabilities of a human in processing information and making decisions, increasing the speed and accuracy of diagnosis. AI-enabled body scans spot cancer early, saving lives. AI is being used to explore chemical and biological interactions and to improve the formulations of old drugs and test the efficacy of new drugs without the need for expensive clinical trials.
- Big data analytics is leveraging health data and tracking epidemics by merging population data, health and migration statistics to help prevent epidemics, reduce costs and cure diseases. It’s also being used to detect identity thefts and healthcare frauds.
- Robots which assist a surgeon or perform surgeries themselves are now a reality, while others provide support to people with sensory, cognitive and motor impairments (comprising of nearly 20% of the world’s population) or their caregivers. Humanoid AI-enabled robots are helping lonely humans to remain independent longer with their company and conversations.
- To enable healthcare providers and patients the required access to sensitive patient data in compliance with the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the industry is turning to cloud computing rapidly.
- The digital healthcare industry is also working to improve its digital marketing strategies by focusing on the quality of its content and its ability to convert visitors into patients as it increases engagement and provides the vital and relevant information it needs to share with the consumer.
Digital healthcare is undoubtedly disrupting the healthcare scenario in various ways, requiring a complete revamp of processes before the newer efficient ways of delivering healthcare can take effect. Even the insurance sector is turning to digital transformation using out-of-the-box projects in health insurance, which adopt a value of care approach instead of focusing on volumes. For all these innovative new approaches to take root and become a norm rather than the exception, organizations must not only adopt and exploit the advantages offered by healthcare digital transformation, but also engage with and motivate their workforce to gain the requisite skills to make the best use of these facilities.