In the past two years, the world has responded to a pandemic that has unexpectedly ushered the acceleration of a 7-10 year digital transformation. While the impact of the pandemic touched every industry, the healthcare industry faced unprecedented challenges that ultimately inspired them to adopt these new technologies. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the impact of the pandemic and what it means for the healthcare industry, and specifically what it means for providers and patients.
A digital transformation is a process of embracing, adopting, and utilizing new technologies to develop and modify current operations and systems. Oftentimes, these newer technologies are developed to fix elements like security or efficiency. Within the healthcare sector, a digital transformation includes expanded access to telehealth and virtual consultations, wearable devices and apps, implementation of AI, or artificial intelligence, and blockchain technology for patient data storage.
Prior to the pandemic, healthcare organizations were already moving towards digital processes that pushed traditional care to the edge. With the pandemic acting as a vessel for digital adoption, healthcare organizations finally began to implement changes that put the patient in control – modifying the way businesses, practices and providers engage with patients.
Digital Impact on the Healthcare Industry
The outbreak of Covid-19 and the continuation of mutating strains have prompted organizations to take constant urgent action to ensure that their patients receive the care they both need and deserve. By embracing and adopting new technologies, providers were not only able to keep services active but were able to re-establish the focus of healthcare, without compromising safety. Modern technologies and solutions place the customer at the core, inviting a shift from traditional ‘brick and mortar healthcare’ to a structure that meets patients where they are physically, mentally, and financially.
Statistics suggest that there was a 400% increase in telehealth calls and a 2000% increase in digital interactions between healthcare professionals and their patients. A Gartner forecast predicts spending on wearable devices will exceed $81 billion by the end of 2021. Both virtual care and wearable devices support this digital transformation in healthcare as they enable patients to monitor their own health and share results with providers without the need for an in-person visit.
The Future of Technology in the Healthcare Industry
The pandemic has triggered modifications in the approach to standard care. While some changes might be acting as temporary solutions, there are changes that will remain. Some key observations include:
Societal Views Shift in Favor of Digital Advancements
One of the main challenges healthcare providers have faced is the societal resistance to change involving technology. Some patients still prefer to see a doctor in person, and certainly, there will always be a need for in-person access, but research supports that as a whole, our world is receptive to alternative, virtual care options. Almost 75% of millennials prefer telehealth calls to conventional appointments for reasons like convenience and flexibility. Providers are also keen to continue virtual appointments as it enables them to access more patients on a weekly basis.
Digital Technologies Become a Priority
For a long time, digital technologies have been treated like additional service layers – you have many choices but no real necessity to apply them to current operations. When the benefits proved worthy of adoption, providers and practices began to make global modifications to procedures, and patients began to utilize the new options they had. It became a priority to learn how the new technologies could positively impact our sense of normalcy.
Filling a Void
Over 40% of Americans admitted to avoiding in-person health options during the pandemic due to Covid-19 related health and safety worries. Digital technologies have the potential to power alternative care opportunities, increasing access to healthcare services without increasing pressure on emergency services.
Encouraging Digital Innovation
The pandemic has created new roles for digital technologies, moving digital health from leisure to practice. Encouraging patients to play a role in managing their personal health through technology will increase the overall desire to develop new technologies that advance healthcare even further. Comfortable, low-risk technology use inspires continued innovation in an industry already supple for digital transformation.
A digital transformation is a process that involves embracing and adopting new technologies to improve operations, evolve existing services and change the way organizations engage with customers. The healthcare industry responded incredibly well to the application of new technologies and the desire to move healthcare to the edge will continue to pave the way for future technological advancements.