Digital transformation is gaining momentum across different industry verticals. According to Statista, the global expenditure on digital transformation is anticipated to touch a whopping $3.4 trillion by 2026, compared to $1.6 trillion projected for 2022.
This speedy growth indicates that digital initiatives are the topmost priority in nearly every industry and healthcare is no exception. A Future Market Insights report states that global digital transformation in the healthcare industry is expected to hit US$253.6 billion by 2033 from $65.2 billion in 2023, with a 14.5% CAGR. In general, digital transformation has immense potential in optimizing operational processes and improving overall patient experience at reduced costs.
Now let us have a detailed look at digital transformation in health care and some of the major challenges encountered in this domain.
What is Digital Transformation in Healthcare?
Digital transformation in healthcare denotes the ongoing research, development, and implementation of technology used to process and obtain healthcare services.
It uses the latest technology stack, processes, and methods to deliver maximum value to healthcare professionals, patients, and healthcare organizations. In other words, it is all about adopting innovative approaches and advanced technologies to enhance benefits. Some of the primary goals of digital transformation are reduced costs, better patient outcomes, improved experiences, and boosted accessibility for both providers and patients.
Here are a few examples of digital transformation in healthcare:
- Electronic Prescribing – Serves as an alternative to a paper prescription and is provided to the patient via email or SMS that can be presented to a pharmacy to obtain medicine.
- Electronic Health Records – Secure online platforms that display a profile indicating a person’s health history.
- Automation – RPA (Robotic Process Automation) is widely used in healthcare and includes a combination of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) technologies to carry out rule-based, routine tasks.
- Telehealth Services – This facility allows patients to keep up with their doctor appointments via phone or video call.
Key Challenges in Digital Transformation in Healthcare and Their Solutions
1. Data Security
Cybersecurity is a major concern for all healthcare organizations when it comes to digital transformation, as cyberattacks normally target private, highly valuable, and confidential personal health data, which can cause interruptions in patient care. For example, a Trojan attack on a private hospital may appear low risk. However, such an attack could easily violate patients’ privacy, leading to loss of reputation for the hospital, discrimination, fraud, etc. Therefore, it is recommended to take measures to improve the security level and stop cyberattacks.
Leveraging blockchain capabilities is highly recommended to overcome this challenge. Blockchain is a digital transaction technology assembled on a distributed computer network and is widely used in the finance segment. It enables healthcare personnel to avoid cybersecurity breaches, detects irregularities in patients’ health records, and allows patients to access and share their health information on a secured distributed ledger.
2. The Cost Aspect
This is another major reason that compels healthcare organizations and institutes to put digital transformation plans on hold. Unfortunately, healthcare companies mainly focus on ROI and neglect the value proposition that digital transformation offers. Although huge investments in technology are indeed required for digital transformation in this sector, the latter offers greater profits, higher scalability, and improved revenue compared to the conventional approach.
This challenge can be dealt with through agile software development, a popular methodology that improves the speed and flexibility of the entire digital transformation process. This iterative and incremental approach has been observed to adapt to new changes in a cost-efficient manner.
3. Resistance to Change
According to a survey, most healthcare personnel are reluctant to change due to their tight schedule. They lack enough time to learn to use new software. On the flip side, the long hours they spend on administrative tasks could be automated via digital transformation.
An effective way to deal with this challenge is to familiarize your staff and stakeholders with new software developed as part of the digital transformation process. For this purpose, you may have to conduct training programs for this group. To get them to actively participate in these sessions, it is essential to show respect for their busy schedules and time. Hence it is recommended to set realistic deadlines for the training program and give notice in advance. For example, if you plan to introduce a new patient portal, send an email to everyone with the respective link and request them to go through it before the next meeting. Encourage them to ask questions or doubts which can be discussed in the training session.
4. Conforming to HIPAA Regulations
Another challenge that surfaces with digital transformation in the healthcare segment is adhering to HIPAA regulations. The HIPAA law is about safeguarding individuals’ medical records and health data at any expense. This ruling was created to enable patients to set boundaries on the sharing and usage of their health records.
To conform to HIPAA Regulations, a healthcare organization must:
- Guarantee complete confidentiality, integrity, and accessibility of patients’ medical records.
- Defend against all types of possible cyber threats.
- Safeguard against inappropriate use of patients’ medical history.
Violation of all the above rules may attract civil monetary and criminal penalties.
Developing custom HIPAA-compliant software is a complicated, expensive, and time-consuming process. Therefore, it is necessary to partner with a reliable healthcare software development company. Do the necessary groundwork like checking their previous HIPAA-compliant projects and seeking previous clients’ feedback before starting your digital transformation journey.
Interoperability refers to standardizing data after gathering it from different sources and transforming it into a universally readable format. It allows healthcare organizations to transfer data among departments, health professionals, services, and providers without manual intervention. Any fault in interoperability may cause miscommunication and information silos, affecting a particular healthcare organization’s ability to share and obtain information and optimize the patient journey.
This challenge can be addressed by adopting common data standards including Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) and Health Level Seven (HL7). These standards guarantee that data is structured consistently, allowing systems to process information without fail.
Digital transformation in healthcare is essential for optimizing patient journeys, enhancing patient outcomes, complying with regulations, and improving communication between providers and medical staff. However, with several options available today, it is quite challenging to select and implement the right solution.
As a top RPA consulting firm in the USA, we can help you choose the right software for your digital healthcare requirements. If you have any queries regarding our services, contact us right away.