Six reasons to embrace digital transformation in healthcare

If any health practitioners remain uncertain about the need to embrace digital transformation, a quick visit to this website The University of Melbourne’s Centre for Digital Transformation of Health will soon change that. It is there that they will learn Australia’s second-oldest university, an institution founded in 1853, has launched a research centre dedicated to enabling ‘a future where the healthcare system is transformed through digital health innovation’. By investing millions of dollars in its Centre for Digital Transformation of Health, the University of Melbourne has confirmed what so many clinicians and administrators already know – digital innovation is no longer a maybe but a must for health providers.

Six reasons to embrace digital transformation in healthcare

From patient flow and surgery scheduling to staffing and supply chain management, hospitals are leveraging digital transformation to improve operational decision-making. The revolution had begun before COVID-19 swept the world but the pandemic has accelerated the rollout and adoption of new technologies in the healthcare industry, particularly those that prioritise convenience and access to care.

Of course, there will always be organisations that are a little slow out of the blocks. Some may even still be trying to get their heads around the concept of digital transformation in the healthcare industry and that is why we have compiled this handy guide. For them, the journey starts here.

What is digital transformation in healthcare?

At its most basic, digital transformation in healthcare is making use of the latest technologies, methodologies and processes to deliver sustainable value to patients, practitioners and health organisations. Just as technology has made so many aspects of our personal lives simpler, it is all about employing digital innovations to improve care and maximise benefits.

This is particularly important given consumers are taking more interest in their care than ever before. As shown in a recent Deloitte Insights healthcare consumer survey, people are increasingly exercising engagement and control over most decisions about their health and wellbeing, including embracing virtual visits more than ever, using technology for health monitoring and being willing to share their data. Hence why it is essential that health systems do all they can to meet their needs by accelerating their digital transformation efforts.

Benefits of digital transformation in healthcare

While many executives have a vested interest in embracing new trends, one of the great things about digital transformation in healthcare is the benefits are not only restricted to those implementing it. From patients and clinicians to the wider industry, there are definitive advantages for different groups.

Patient benefits

  • Convenience: remember the frustration of needing to hop in the car and navigate peak-hour city traffic or drive hundreds of rural kilometres to see a doctor. Feel frustrated no more as remote healthcare is one of the greatest benefits of the digital transformation sweeping the healthcare industry. Video teleconferencing is allowing patients to access the likes of GPs, hospital outpatient appointments and even physiotherapists without needing to leave home.

  • Accuracy: a rise in the sophistication of software and the use of artificial intelligence is lowering the chances of errors related to patient records. An example is the correlation between prescriptions and diagnoses, with emerging technologies able to detect inconsistencies and automatically alert clinicians of potential errors. Such extra layers of security are a blessing in a world where simple mistakes can have dire consequences.

  • Knowledge: from easy access to personal health data to wearable devices that track health metrics in real-time, consumers have never had more opportunities to manage and stay abreast of their own health journey. Where such knowledge was once firmly in the hands of practitioners, patients are now able to plug into software that tracks their own wellness (eg: heart-rate monitoring) and tap into their online medical records.

Clinician benefits

  • Reduced costs: the automation of many time-consuming and repetitive tasks is allowing health services to redirect savings to more essential areas. With the pressures of an ageing population, the cost of providing quality healthcare is one of the top concerns for health executives in the 21st century and the ability of digital transformation to eliminate unnecessary spending cannot be ignored.

  • Data analysis: if there is one thing healthcare organisations are renowned for, it is collecting massive amounts of data. However, the challenge has always been how to utilise such information and that is where digital transformation is changing the game. For example, cloud systems are enabling data sharing and easier search and retrieval, while artificial intelligence is being used to analyze medical images and process large datasets to pinpoint trends and predictions. Meanwhile, big data analytics is an excellent tool for monitoring public health sources to identify the likes of public disease outbreaks.

  • Creative staffing: the emergence of cloud-computing and video conferencing technology means many of the healthcare industry’s non-clinical roles no longer need to be performed on-site. With that in mind, an increasing number of executives are partnering with outsourcing providers that specialise in establishing offshore teams with expertise in areas such as medical billing, medical coding, data management and medical transcriptionists. Similarly, they are drawn to their ability to provide longer hours of customer service within existing budgets, especially given destinations such as the Philippines boast a well-educated talent pool with labour cost savings of up to 70%.

The time to embrace digital transformation in healthcare is now, as highlighted by a recent survey that showed 60% of health systems are already midway through their journey to an ‘ideal digital state’. Survey participants also acknowledged the journey is taking longer than they had initially expected as the definition and opportunities related to digital transformation continue to expand. Despite this, there is no doubt it will be a journey well worth making. From enabling easier access to care to improve quality while decreasing costs, the impact of digital transformation will be felt for decades to come.

With the global medical coding market estimated to reach more than $30 billion by 2026, many health executives are grappling with how to best navigate an increasingly costly environment. Learn how outsourcing providers are helping ease the strain by offering services to hospitals and health services of all sizes.

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