Digital transformation is a buzzword in the healthcare industry, but what does it mean to “digitally transform” your business? In this article, we will explore how digital transformation is defined in healthcare, how digital transformation will likely shape the industry in the coming years, and how you can begin digitally transforming your business.
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What is Digital Transformation in Healthcare?
Nearly everything in our daily lives seems to be intertwined with technology, where consumers have access to an enormous amount of data and information at the click of a button. The digitization of multiple aspects of our lives extends into healthcare, where interoperable technologies will continue transforming the industry.
Even within the healthcare industry, digital transformation can mean different things to different organizations. A survey of technology executives at 25 different health systems, conducted by Deloitte Center for Health Solutions in collaboration with the Scottsdale Institute, found that “most survey respondents and interviewees agree that it is more than just transferring paper processes to a digital environment” instead, “digital transformation is a new way to deliver care, improve processes, and meet the well-being needs of consumers.” Deloitte defines digital transformation in the healthcare industry as using digital technologies to radically improve an organization’s performance or reach. Digital health and digital health technologies are critical players in the digital transformation narrative, and familiarity and integration of digital health technologies is a significant first step in achieving better performance.
The Rise of Digital Health and Digital Health Technologies
Digital health has been trending, especially during and following the COVID-19 pandemic. Various things, such as telehealth appointments, an uptick in social media usage, and more interest in the wellness industry, have caused a shift in the healthcare market.
As defined by Jama Software, digital health is the combination of digital technologies and healthcare, enhancing the efficiency of healthcare and making it more efficient, personalized, and precise. Digital health is a broader category, including mobile health (mHealth), Health Information Technology (HIT), wearable devices, telehealth, telemedicine, and personalized medicine. Digital health technologies, on the other hand, refer to the use of computing platforms, connectivity, software, and sensors. According to the FDA, “these technologies span a wide range of uses, from applications in general wellness to applications as a medical device.” An example could be a heart rate monitor or a smartwatch connected to a mobile app. Digital health and digital health technologies continue to gain traction in healthcare and will undoubtedly become an essential aspect of consumer expectations.
The primary digital transformation taking place right now within the healthcare insurance sector centers around digitizing, automating, and eliminating paper. Streamlining workflows in any way possible with current technologies sets businesses up for more success presently and makes keeping up with digitization in the future a breeze. Broadly, eliminating paper and manual processes is one of the most common ways organizations are streamlining their workflows. Some specific examples include converting paper operations to EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) in tandem with an EDI clearinghouse partner, AI usage for document and correspondence processing, machine learning for Provider and Member matching, or using OCR/data capture for front-end processing.
The future of healthcare is undeniably digitized, as the consumer expectation for rapid technological evolution doesn’t stop at healthcare. There is an expectation for more accessible healthcare data, as well as more customized solutions. While complete digital transformation may be far off, consumers are increasingly expecting more transparency and customization. Accenture recently reported that 80 percent of insurance customers want personalization from Providers. Customization offers increased customer satisfaction, financially benefiting insurance companies, with reported revenue growth of 6-10 percent when providing customized solutions, as found by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
To create a more customizable profile for individual consumers, data is critical. For the first time, technologies are entering the market that enables Payers and Providers to get a more holistic view of individuals’ health profiles. As stated by BCG, “new mobile and cloud technologies along with advanced analytics allow companies to collect and connect a wide array of data and develop meaningful findings from it.” With proper safeguards in place regarding consumer data collection, consumers can now have more control over their healthcare decisions. Informed consent and education on where consumer data will be shared can yield higher activation and deliver personalized insights, leading to many helpful results.
What is the Outlook for the Future?
The outlook for the future of healthcare is more connected, interoperable, data-driven, and prevention-focused. Today’s healthcare system operates disconnectedly, with health plans, hospital systems, pharmaceutical companies, and medical device manufacturers functioning separately. According to Deloitte, by 2040, the healthcare industry will be much more connected, with interoperable and secure technology streamlining the sector. This interoperable technology, powered by AI, will use consumer data to “help identify illness early, enable proactive intervention, and improve the understanding of disease progression.” There will be a focus more on prevention and less on treatment. According to Formstack, genetic testing and genomic profiling will likely be widely used in addition to wearable devices and interoperable technology. This is another contributing factor to data-rich, patient-customized care, which will contribute once again to the idea of prevention as opposed to treatment.
What can I do to prepare?
Digitally transforming your business is a long journey, leaving many wondering, “where do I start?” Although fully interoperable healthcare technology may still be a handful of years away, ensuring that your organization is up to date with what is currently available is vital. Evaluating your current workflows, budgets, and bottlenecks can give insight into what parts of your process could benefit from automation technologies. Developing a business plan and engaging with strategic partnerships to implement these technologies is key. As previously touched upon, below are some ideas for beginning your digital transformation:
Working with strategic partners in the healthcare technology space ensures your company is up to speed with currently available technologies. They can also help to create a plan and implementation model that works for your company and provides customer support and feedback in your digital transformation journey. Smart Data Solutions has the capability to help you start integrating automated solutions and keep up with the fast pace of technological advancement.
Ready to start automating your business processes? Contact us here.