The digital transformation, which has been taking the healthcare industry by storm these past few years, has tremendous potential to improve the ability of healthcare professionals and organizations alike. This, in turn, will elevate the quality of treatment patients receive and hopefully help live longer and healthier lives.
That said, the rise of mobile healthcare apps, connected medical devices, wearables and Internet of Medical Things(IoMT) present new challenges for the industry. The consumer’s desire for convenience is expected to lift virtual healthcare to a level that can disrupt the traditional care delivery system.
Technology challenges in healthcare
- Data processing:
A major challenge the healthcare industry will face is data processing, mainly because of the sheer volume of the information the doctors, clinics and hospitals collect.
Another challenge is synchronizing the data collected, because due to the rise in virtual healthcare, patient and doctor interactions are taking place across multiple channels making it much harder for the healthcare providers to keep the patient’s records updated.
Security is a challenge in any industry and healthcare is no different than others as cyber threats can prove detrimental. Moreover, healthcare organisations have three times more costs associated with data breaches than other industries.
Although threats can originate from harmless sources, a software coding error in 2018 was responsible for the erroneous leakage of sensitive information of over 150,000 patients in the UK.
This issue is further exacerbated by the companies themselves often operating in bad faith. BetterHelp, one of the world’s top rated therapy sites, was linked with data mining and selling of users’ personal information. And so did their main competitors, Talkspace.
- Digital user experience:
Designing any digital product that is user friendly posts a major challenge as in technology the end use is important. This is more apparent in the healthcare industry where these products are used both by patients and doctors alike. A poorly designed device or one which is difficult to use can limit the willingness of the doctor to prescribe or the patient to use
Logistic transformations in healthcare
The pandemic not only brought the world to a standstill, it turned the healthcare care sector into shambles. As the medical sector continues to digitize and make operations automatic, here is how logistics will change the course of the healthcare sector over the years.
- Increased E-commerce volume: The increased online retail volume will put additional stress on traditional delivery carriers and those run by hospitals. This will further push the healthcare sector to outsource their business in order to cater efficiently.
- Urgent doorstep deliveries: The rapid delivery trend being offered these days, especially by the critical Pharma sector (almost 80% of the orders are delivered in the rapid time slot) will make speed a challenge for the healthcare industry.
- Automation in healthcare management: Healthcare organizations will face issues with efficiency in the optimization of supply chains. The arduous process will involve correct labeling, multiple permissions and delicate handling which invariably occurs due to inefficient cold chain deliveries. The process will have to shift to automation to prevent exacerbating delivery issues.
- Finally, it is important to protect against inequities when providing access to virtual therapy, especially among the vulnerable population who may not have mobile phones or face connectivity issues and the digital literacy needed to participate.
Other digital transformations in healthcare
Digital transformation will have a huge impact on the healthcare industry, especially because nowadays it is important to provide the best care to the patient digitally, irrespective of location. Digital transformation in this sector will be all about innovation and improving work efficiency in hospitals.
Digital healthcare innovations which are already used in medicine such as connected ambulances, on demand healthcare solutions, telemedicine and virtual visits, patient portals, health wearables and disease history analysis are all factors that can significantly improve the final outcome for the better.
What is holding the process back?
Despite the rapid strides in digital transformation, there are some bottle-necks which will hold their progress in the future. As discussed above, cybersecurity is one critical aspect that can slow down the process of software adoption. Specific regulators like the HIPAA, need to be implemented to meet all the security requirements, which will make the process more time consuming.
Since the notion of digital expansion is expanding constantly over a period of time, it can take years to achieve optimum digitization. In fact, most organizations are not even half way in their journey to using advanced healthcare systems.
It is worth noting that finding a talented workforce to maintain digital transformation will be a major hurdle in the journey forward. Investing in hiring quality experts should be the priority for the coming years. Leadership and effective management will be the core factor that will define the success or failure of the digital transformation journey in healthcare.
To sum up, the healthcare industry, including virtual care, are still in their infancy with regards to stages in their development, even though they have proved its effectiveness. The use of innovative solutions will open up new opportunities for improving the industry in the years to come. Robosurgeons, for example, may be things of the future, but an augmented reality that will assist human doctors to deliver safe and better care.