How Technology Can Drive the Healthcare Transformation the World Needs
As every 21st-century industry that struggles and innovates to find better alternatives for their current modus operandi for improving the quality of customer experience, the healthcare industry is no different. Primarily focusing on the experience and quite literally the ‘well-being’ of its customers, the healthcare industry has come a long way. Thanks to technology proliferation, from being cure-oriented to being preventive, from instinct-based to data-driven, the healthcare industry has transformed and evolved in the past few years.
But there’s more. This transformation has been slow and steady as compared to the rest of the industries that have totally revamped their operations with technology. The healthcare transformation has primarily been from analog to digital. Along with the digitization of operational processes in healthcare, what the world needs right now is a disruption.
Digital Transformation of Healthcare: An Overview
Primarily, healthcare transformation involves leveraging emerging technologies and a robust digital strategy to create a positive impact. The impact-radius of this transformation is not limited to simply optimizing the systems, but it extends to the reduction of manual errors, streamlined organizational operations, lowered costs, and, most importantly, improved patient outcomes.
Essentially, the digital transformation of healthcare involves a harmonious marriage of data, digital tools, and communication to drive better healthcare.
The Need for Digital Transformation in Healthcare
Unfortunately, the landscape of technological focus-shift in healthcare is not at par with the other industries. It is not the lack of technology, but the lack of digital strategies- only 7% of the healthcare companies have one.
The 21st-century patients are much more cognizant about the treatments they undergo. A survey suggests that 97% of the patients in the United States wanted their medical history to be accessible to them and the healthcare organization they have opted for, to ensure high-quality care. And why not!
Technology can transform the end-to-end dynamics of healthcare. And there are key healthcare areas that can undergo a significant revamp with the help of technology. But are these demands being met?
Let’s find out…
Key Areas That Can Benefit from the Technological Transformation
Precision Medicine and Predictive Health Care
The 2020s and beyond is the era of personalization. People demand bespoke solutions catering to their specific problems, and healthcare is no exception. Today, patients demand precision medicine, which calls for tailor-made medical treatments and custom methodologies to address the group of health issues faced particularly by them, rather than the ‘one size fits all’ approach. Technologies such as Big data and visual analytics enable data processing for extending personalized healthcare driven with predictive analysis, improved communication, and patient satisfaction. Medical imaging and genomic sequencing further help in delivering precision medicine.
Since precision medicine helps in devising detailed reports of patient’s medical history, lifestyle, and environmental factors, it also helps in determining predictive healthcare. The emphasis can be shifted from cure to prevention and susceptibility to diseases as life-threatening as cancer can be predicted. Diagnosis can be improved, and disease progression can be curbed, ensuring improved patient health, reduced time and costs on medication and treatment.
On-demand healthcare has seen a huge imploration in recent times. On-demand healthcare aptly fits into today’s consumer-oriented service industry that drives away inconvenience. On-demand healthcare not only helps in addressing health issues instantly but also saves resources such as time and money to obtain medical care by conventional means.
With the burgeoning need for on-demand healthcare, virtual care seems like it’s here to stay. Telemedicine, for instance, involves extending treatments to patients remotely with the help of video-conferencing tools. Think remote troubleshooting, but for illnesses. Telemedicine is powered by video calling software, which is upgrading year-on-year and involves remote diagnosis, record maintenance, and patient monitoring. Telemedicine extends more convenient healthcare and also saves time and costs spent by the patients in accessing healthcare. Incorporating 5G and next-gen IoT (internet of things), telemedicine is all set for a revolution.
Fewer Medication Errors
Automated systems have replaced manual record-keeping across all industries. Using technology for maintaining records of patients and treatment rules out the possibility of medication errors due to poorly maintained data or inappropriate interpretation of it. Healthcare facilities and hospitals collect and maintain a significant amount of data, which is imperative for appropriate analysis and care. This data needs to be accessed by multiple stakeholders at different times and needs to be updated periodically.
Electronic Health Records contain images, procedures, lab reports, which can be maintained optimally using Blockchain. Blockchain’s open access ensures that the data is accessible but is protected against hackers, thanks to the decentralized hedgers made available by blockchain.
While blockchain helps to maintain the sanity and security of healthcare data, processing the data using conventional methods can lead to delayed cycles and discrepancies. Further, using Big Data, patient data can be processed with improved efficiency.
Increasing lifespans and nuclear families have equated to more and more seniors living by themselves, especially in the developed nations. As assisted living and senior care homes gain wide popularity and acceptance, furbishing quick medical help to seniors is one of the key challenges faced by healthcare givers. Smart homes powered with virtual assistants can be of immense help to extend aid in the day-to-day living of the seniors.
One of the most widely market-approved technology devices that are also positively impacting senior healthcare are the wearables. From smartwatches to fitness tracking devices, wearables and IoT devices not only offer a great way to monitor and maintain health records but are also a wonderful way of tracking patient location, health anomalies, and fall detection using sensors. This can come in handy while providing care to seniors living in senior care facilities, patients with illnesses like Alzheimer’s, and people with mobility challenges.
Quality of Healthcare
It is only fair that as technologies advance, the patients demand improvement in the quality of healthcare and diagnosis they receive. Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence are the two technologies that can tremendously help in driving the transformation for improved healthcare.
Treatment briefing enabled by Virtual Reality can be used to educate patients who are more mindful of their treatment. VR can be used to offer an interactive, engaging teleporting experience to treat mental health patients.
Medical devices powered by artificial intelligence, such as the BCI (Brain-computer interface) can bridge the gap between the patients and the doctors, especially the ones who have lost their ability to speak, move, and interact due to the failure of the nervous system or trauma. Next-gen radiology tools for improved imaging of tissues are further anticipated to improve the care extended to life-threatening conditions such as cancer. Optimized healthcare in underprivileged areas is driven using AI-powered automated systems and data analytics, which can significantly help in extending care.
Improved Medical Training
As the world transitions towards improved methods of learning and consumption of knowledge, healthcare still heavily relies on conventional approaches. And here’s where Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality can help! AR/VR can be extensively deployed for creating an immersive training experience for doctors and caregivers with high-quality surgical videos and demonstrations. Irrespective of locations and environmental conditions, the doctors and caregivers can stay abreast latest diagnosis, medical research, and rampant illnesses that they haven’t practically encountered and handled.
As technologies become more accessible, asserting their importance for critical, context-driven healthcare needs across the world is pertinent. And the key challenge is to perpetuate the ‘human’ factor of healthcare while making the most of technology.