Healthcare is the area where digitalization can produce the most significant and noticeable impact. For some reason, the medical industry lags behind other industries (retail, manufacturing, travel) in using modern technologies, but currently, it is making enormous efforts to reduce this gap. We are definitely on the way to digital health and smart hospitals where robots work together with doctors.
This article explains how healthcare and digital transformation create a new business model — customer-centered digital healthcare.
Digital Transformation in Healthcare: Statistics
A highly connected world that we live in encourages the creation of businesses with a focus on the consumer. Regardless of industry, modern customers are getting used to being at the center, demanding both the quality of services and the control over them. Therefore, more and more companies are implementing emerging technologies to deliver a better customer experience.
Healthcare is experiencing a great shift with the influence of technology innovations. Statistics show that health information is the third most common search request on the Internet. 77% of patients use online sources prior to scheduling an appointment in order to learn about symptoms and treatment options, as well as to find the best doctors and treatment facilities. Sixty-six percent of the population is willing to use wearables and mobile apps to monitor their health and improve treatment of conditions.
Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR), though originally created for entertainment, have many applications in the healthcare industry. They provide unique opportunities to train specialists, plan scenarios, treat stress disorders, mental health issues, etc. Statista experts forecast that the healthcare segment will be the second market share of AR and VR by 2022, and its value is expected to exceed $5 billion by 2025.
|Read also: What Is Extended Reality and What Can We Do With It?|
Many other technologies such as IoT, mobile, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and Big Data analysis (read below) contribute to the development of medical care. If we compare the number of healthcare information technology (HIT) venture capital (VC) funding deals worldwide from 2010 to 2017, there is a huge leap from 22 to 778 deals, which proves the efficiency and necessity of a digital transformation strategy in healthcare.
Number of healthcare information technology (HIT) venture capital funding deals worldwide from 2010 to 2017
At the same time, the issue of personal data security remains current for patients. According to healthcare consumers, insurance companies and providers support a better security level than app/device companies.
Confidence among U.S. consumers on digital data security measures taken by their providers as of 2017
Five Reasons to Introduce Emerging Technologies into Healthcare
The following five examples of the digital transformation in the healthcare industry prove that technologies can greatly improve medical services and contribute to people’s wellbeing and longevity.
A branch of healthcare known as telemedicine appeared mostly due to mobile technology development. A diversity of special mobile applications, messengers and video chats have two great benefits:
- Reduction of pressure on legacy healthcare systems and doctors (patients don’t always have to travel to a doctor’s office, they can get a remote consultation; this eliminates queues and the stressful atmosphere while saving time and increasing productivity)
- Accessibility of the medical service (people in distant regions or with limited mobility get a chance to acquire information and get professional medical advice)
Besides telecommunication technologies, drones are becoming popular for medical use. They are already used to deliver supplies, medicines and blood products to disaster areas, or collect laboratory samples from remote regions to bring to hospitals for testing.
Different kinds of robotized equipment are used as surgical assistants during operations, enabling more precise surgical outcomes with minimal invasiveness. Autonomous instruments can perform cleaner incisions with less tissue damage as compared to those made by a human hand. The most important benefit of such procedures is significantly reduced recovery time.
Another advantage of using computerized surgical equipment is the possibility for remote surgery. The fact is that a surgeon can manage robots and perform operations without being physically present in the operating room. Theoretically, a surgeon can be anywhere in the world, with robotics opening the door for remote surgery.
3D printing technology has great potential in producing medical devices, prosthetics and even transplants. As of now, the most popular 3D printing use cases include hearing aids and dental implants. Moreover, scientists have already created heart valves, blood vessels and cartilages. In 2016, researchers succeeded in implanting a printed bone, tissue and muscle into animals.
In the future, scientists hope to create solid organs, e.g. a heart or a kidney. In this case, thousands of people will not have to wait for perfect donor matches, getting a chance for custom-made organs.
Wearable technology embraces a wide array of devices:
- For sport and fitness (e.g. smartwatches)
- For patient monitoring (e.g. smart inhalers)
- For home treatment (e.g. insulin pumps)
They serve different purposes, but the operational concept is similar:
- Collect personalized data in real time
- Alert about abnormal conditions
- Remind to take medicines
- Encourage a healthier lifestyle
- Analyze data and make predictions
Thanks to wearable devices, the medical care model becomes more personalized and shifts from reactive to preventive. Moreover, people are able to lead healthier lives. Some companies are even introducing wearables to monitor employee health conditions and stress levels. They believe that it can help boost productivity.
|Read also: Wearable Technology in Healthcare|
All modern technologies — Big Data and cloud computing, to be precise, — aim at data collection and its analysis. The more information about health and treatment is available, the better awareness and engagement of both patients and doctors is created.
Digital transformation allows physicians to know their patients better and share information with them, which improves their relationship.
Patients, in turn, can leave reviews of medical organizations and doctors via social media and other channels. Their feedback serves as the mechanism for healthcare providers and regulators to reveal potential issues and solve them.
Search engine queries are also actively monitored, and if there are increasing trends toward searches for certain disease symptoms in a certain region, medical authorities can quickly and effectively react to disease outbreaks.
What is the digital transformation in healthcare in general? It is a way to create a healthier population by using emerging digital technologies.
If your company is planning to invest into healthcare digital transformation, SaM Solutions can help implement your ideas. Learn about our expertise in medical projects by contacting SaM’s specialists.