Delivering better patient outcomes and care within ever-tightening budgets is the main challenge facing the UK’s healthcare sector.
Finding more innovative and cost-effective ways to use resources and information holds the key to eliminating the pain points in healthcare delivery by utilising innovations and the latest technologies and maximising value from infrastructure.
The past few years have seen digital transformation come to the fore, and it now affects all industries, including healthcare.
Technology has become a mission-critical component of healthcare. It continues to drive changes in how medical professionals treat their patients and how consumers access healthcare support, advice and information.
This has transformed the overall experience of patients and healthcare professionals, with technology proving to be the enabler in helping people live longer and healthier lives.
Total global spend on digital transformation in healthcare stood at £55bn by the end of 2018 and is expected to reach around £152bn by the end of 2023.
It has enabled the healthcare industry, on a global scale, to transform their patient care by adopting the latest technologies, equipment, software and applications, and innovations.
It has also, in general, made the sector more productive, collaborative and responsive to patient needs.
Much of the industry’s progress was driven by patient demands and the expectation of digital-first interaction with healthcare providers.
In turn, healthcare providers have utilised technology to meet patients’ needs and optimise processes and streamline operations using the latest apps, devices, and electronic communications.
Efforts to digitise medical records have also brought about a sea change in the way patients interact with healthcare providers. At the same time, many GPs can provide initial consultations remotely to free up in-practice time and resources at a grassroots level.
Some of the other changes that innovation and digital transformation have driven in the healthcare sector include:
Easy access to medical information
One of the most significant benefits of digital transformation in the healthcare sector is the ease of storing and accessing patient information. Cloud-based systems provide healthcare professionals with instant access to patient information at the touch of a button. This information can also be shared easily with other medical practitioners, resulting in more efficient and effective patient care.
Digital technology has also made safe and efficient recordkeeping a possibility.
Centralised storage means that medical professionals can access patient data quickly, helping them provide better care, thus improving patient outcomes.
New digital technology has improved the way patients and healthcare practitioners communicate.
Healthcare professionals can now easily reach their patients with email, text messages and smartphone push notifications, while patients no longer need to be notified by post about test results or appointments.
The global coronavirus pandemic has also increased the use of teleconferencing solutions like Teams or Zoom. It means medical professionals can consult with patients or other professionals online, conduct webinars, and participate in conferences or training virtually.
However, this can be done well or done poorly. If done well, it can result in patients feeling able to gain access to professional help and advise more easily. If done badly, it can appear that technology is being used to prevent patients gaining access to GPs. COVID accelerated this and, in some cases, resulted in GPs rushing the implementation of solutions that weren’t really fit for purpose.
Digital technology has enabled clinicians to collect large amounts of data in a short space of time from a larger and more diverse population, which is especially useful to those involved in research, clinical trials, or epidemiological studies.
Frontline care providers can also use the information provided by big data to better identify risk factors and recommend the most appropriate treatments.
Data privacy and retention
Patients’ healthcare records are covered by the GDPR and classified as PII data. As such, they must be covered by a defined retention policy. However, if, for example, a GP deleted data older than seven years but it related to a patient with a long-term health condition that was diagnosed 12 years ago, what would happen if the patient requested a prescription related to this, but the GP could find no record of it?
There is clearly a need for a solution that caters for this requirement.
Smart technology has given rise to a boom in health ‘apps’, which is one of the biggest benefits of digital transformation across the healthcare industry.
The impact is two-fold. Patients can get instant access to the information, advice, and support they need instantly from their mobile device and interact with the healthcare providers and manage their own care.
Medical professionals, meanwhile, can more easily monitor their patients’ health and medical issues remotely. Apps also help practitioners check test results, drug prescriptions, and other vital information to enable them to tailor and provide individual care packages to all the patients in their care.
As we mentioned above, the global COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the growth of telemedicine – the practice of using technology to examine, diagnose and treat patients virtually.
In 2015, just five per cent of doctors, globally, were interacting with their patients in this way. This grew to 22% in 2019 but surged by more than 6,000% as the world locked down, and healthcare professionals had to use other methods to engage with their patients as coronavirus started to bite.
With restrictions now starting to loosen across the world, telemedicine is here to stay, as it can help healthcare providers to resolve patient issues when a face-to-face consultation isn’t always necessary.
Online training & education
Advances in communication brought about by digital transformation have also enabled medical professionals to study and develop their careers online.
Through online learning, students, trainees and fully-fledged healthcare professionals can study at their preferred times, whenever and wherever they want.
This makes it easier for people to obtain healthcare-related degrees without travelling or living away from home, while some professionals can continue working while studying.
There are also examples of experts being on hand able to assist in operations whilst thousands of miles away through use of 3d virtualization technology.
It’s clear that digital transformation has massively improved healthcare delivery, making patient treatment more efficient, effective, and rewarding.
Advances in technology will continue to drive innovation in the healthcare sector and improve health outcomes across the board. It is down to healthcare providers to play their role by adopting these technologies and taking responsibility for driving their own improvement.
From improved communication between healthcare professionals and patients to reduced operational costs and increased productivity, AMDH’s intelligent ICT solutions can bring about meaningful digital transformation to help you deliver improved health outcomes for the people in your care.
We can help you identify and overcome the pain points associated with your current ICT strategy and introduce technology solutions – utilising the latest in artificial intelligence (AI) and process automation – to reduce staff, support and maintenance costs and benefit your entire organisation, not just your ICT function.
If you enjoyed this blog and want to learn more about how we can help your organisation achieve improvement through technology, give us a call on 01332 322588. And if you would like to stay up to date with the latest news, views and insight on everything going on in the ICT and technology sector, subscribe to our FREE email newsletter.