Technological advancements have not only revolutionized the way people navigate their daily lives, but the way businesses operate and industries grow as well. Healthcare is one of the industries benefiting from digital transformation. Patients, doctors, nurses, workers, and facility leaders acknowledge healthcare is moving toward technology, not away from it. But, if you recognize the benefits of a digital transformation in healthcare, you must also concede its challenges.
Widespread Telehealth Adoption
Telehealth has seen steady growth in recent years, but its use accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth services made healthcare more accessible and affordable for many people. Even after the pandemic is over, many will continue virtual visits with healthcare providers.
Telehealth allows doctors to see more patients in a day and provide adequate care in a faster time frame. Whether you’re working with a primary care physician, doing a therapy session with a counselor, or need to see a doctor for a one-time visit, telehealth appointments are available far and wide.
At the same time, one of the main issues people have with telehealth services is that they’re only appropriate for some health needs. For instance, nurses often lead telehealth appointments for patients with mild symptoms, minor injuries, or general health questions. However, serious medical issues require an in-person visit to a doctor.
Also, many people only trust a diagnosis when a medical professional does a physical examination. Simply put, they just don’t see telehealth as equal to in-person visits. Even with its challenges, telehealth services will remain a permanent fixture in our healthcare system.
Wearable Health Tech
Coupled with the widespread adoption of telehealth services is the advancement of wearable health tech. As more and more people become accustomed to virtual visits and maintaining their health at home, they’re using wearable health tech to stay on top of both vitals and symptoms.
For example, smartwatches that monitor certain health activities allow wellness coaches to see their patients’ physical activity levels at home throughout the week. Or an at-home blood pressure machine provided by a doctor allows them access to their patient’s blood pressure vitals in real-time.
The challenge with wearable health tech is the learning curve. Those who aren’t tech-savvy sometimes have difficulty learning how to work different devices, and that frustration can lead to them not using the device.
Fortunately, with a dedicated team ready to help people use wearable health tech devices, even those who swear off technology can benefit from using these devices to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The Rise of Virtual Reality
Although virtual reality games are a lot more fun, VR proves to be just as valuable and exciting in our real lives, specifically in our healthcare.
Virtual reality offers students pursuing medicine the opportunity to participate in virtual surgical training and clinical trial experiences. Also, virtual reality tools are provided to patients as part of a pain management plan or to participate in activities that stimulate the mind and body.
One of the biggest challenges with virtual reality is the cost. Virtual reality headsets can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs for healthcare facilities. Add the accompanying software that allows medical professionals to analyse the interactions and results of those experiences, and virtual reality tools become unaffordable.
Luckily, VR is growing in popularity in the healthcare industry. This is prompting designers and developers to come up with more affordable options for VR tech so that it can become more powerful in the healthcare industry.
Health-Related Mobile Apps
Health-related mobile apps are becoming the norm in healthcare. These include apps that:
- Reduce prescription drug prices
- Provide hospital specific information
- Help find nearby providers
- Offer mental health services
- Support fitness and weight-loss
- Help create a nutritious diet
- Sync with wearable tech devices
Unfortunately, with so many apps out there to choose from, many people don’t know where to start, so they don’t. Still, mobile apps will remain impactful in the future of healthcare because they encourage people to take charge of their healthcare journeys.
Improving Security for Patient Data
With the increased use of health-related mobile apps, there’s an intense focus on protecting patient and medical facility data. This is because private patient information is now accessible online and transmitted over many devices in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and so on.
Additionally, most medical facilities have essential business information in digital files, making them vulnerable to cyber thieves. Ultimately, telehealth services, online patient portals, and all technology used in medical buildings are at risk for a cybersecurity attack.
Because of this, healthcare industry leaders are prioritizing improving security for data. For instance, the Health Information Exchange allows for a safe and secure electronic transfer of and access to patient data. This helps patients have at-will access to their patient records on a secure site. Also, medical professionals have a complete picture of a patient’s medical history and plan with seamless access to patient records from various providers.
Artificial Intelligence and Automation
You’re likely familiar with the terms artificial intelligence and automation. Artificial intelligence uses machines and computers to mimic human behaviour while automation tools help complete repetitive, menial tasks.
Both are finding their place in healthcare because they can be cost-effective, improve productivity, and minimize risks caused by human behaviour. A great example of AI and automation in healthcare today is collecting data when patients use different devices. With the ability to manage massive data sets, providers can offer personalized care solutions and intervene with emergency treatment when necessary.
One of the main challenges with artificial intelligence and automation is understanding that they don’t eliminate the need for a human touch. As a result, healthcare professionals must find the sweet spot where they’re working with these tools, not competing against them.
Reach More People With Social Media
The digital transformation in healthcare extends beyond patient care, medical facility operations, and internal team functions. Health insurance companies, medical professionals, and hospitals are all finding opportunities to create communities dedicated to health and wellness on their social media platforms.
Navigating social media in the healthcare industry can be a bit tricky. Professionals must adhere to ethical standards of social media use and effectively separate personal and business accounts.
With more straightforward rules and regulations on the appropriate use of social media in healthcare, it will continue to bring people together with the common goal of improving and maintaining good health.
Overall, the healthcare industry is undergoing a digital transformation that will continue for years to come. We’re currently seeing:
- Widespread adoption of telehealth services
- Increased use of wearable health tech
- A rise in virtual reality tools used in patient care and internal teams
- The rapid development of health-related mobile apps
- A focus on securing patient and business data
- Implementation of AI and automation tools
- Social media used as a means to encourage people to take their health seriously
Continue to keep up to date on the digital transformation of the healthcare industry to ensure you’re taking full advantage of all that technological advancements provide in your journey to good health.