This blog is part of a series about the operations pain points that many organizations face as they tackle digital transformation and change management. Our experts provide insights and recommendations based on their decades of hands-on experience and tackle some of the most pressing business and technology pain points.
If you’ve ever tried to get reimbursed from insurance, deciphered the order in which to see doctors to get a specialist appointment, or been asked to sign into multiple applications at one facility to get your records or pay your bill, then you’ve seen the need for digital transformation in healthcare firsthand.
The pandemic accelerated adoption of transformation in other industries. Retail moved ahead with curbside and delivery services and financial services learned to provide better service through applications and mobile. But healthcare, stymied by the stress of treating the influx of COVID-19 patients, overworked staff, bureaucratic and legal obligations, and limited resources, has lagged behind.
Whether it’s a radiological facility, a testing laboratory, an independent practice, or a hospital system, the slower nature of transformation in healthcare is evident for both providers and consumers. As a large portion of the population in many countries is aging, it’s more important than ever for the healthcare industry to take advantage of technology to better care for patients.
What are some new ways that IoT can be incorporated in healthcare?
Beyond telehealth and patient portals, there’s great opportunity for the Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare. From patient monitoring devices such as glucose and heart rate monitors to smart inhalers and contact lenses that measure glucose levels, IoT is one of the keys to providing less intrusive, less costly, and more efficient healthcare.
For example, IoT ingestible sensors will be able to detect and possibly diagnose ailments such as gastrointestinal bleeding or detect whether a person has taken their medication. Another example is smart beds that adjust to a patient’s support automatically without the physical presence of a healthcare professional.
Many companies are developing devices that can help serve more patients remotely and minimize physical visits to doctor’s offices and hospitals.
What role can automation play in healthcare transformations?
A big priority for many healthcare providers is addressing staffing shortages and skills gaps in both patient-facing and back-end areas of their business. One way to address some of these pain points is to integrate automation for time and labor consuming systems.
Electronic health records, billing and coding documents, patient intake documents, scheduling, and physician entry systems are prime areas to increase efficiencies with automation. The incentive to automate these systems is not only to save costs and time, but it’s also to decrease the number of errors in many patient files.
LexisNexis estimates that 30-40 percent of patient records contain errors ranging from inaccurate addresses and phone numbers to incorrect treatment and diagnosis data.
How can artificial intelligence (AI) advance healthcare transformation?
The key to using AI in healthcare is the same as for any other industry: it can do the laborious task of analyzing large amounts of data so that providers can focus on patients. An example of this is using AI to review clinical data to find patients for certain research and clinical trials.
Another example is applying predictions from AI algorithms used to evaluate patient data to select the appropriate treatment for illnesses (for example, kidney disease). AI can currently be used to analyze and diagnose different types of cancers or diseases from images, and in the near future, it will be able to help healthcare providers triage for prioritization of treatment prior to seeing patients in person.
AI is already helping to monitor conditions for possible epidemics or pandemics across the globe, and its potential for more life-saving uses continues to evolve.
How can intelligent assistive technologies (IAT) help deliver care?
Assistive technologies will be able to help people age in place and live independently. They will also improve accessibility to places and experiences for people with disabilities, including access to more employment options and opportunities to participate in their community and environment.
Examples of IAT include robotic limbs and the tools used for augmentative and alternative communication such as speech generating devices and speech-to-text services. Other technologies include those to assist with sensory loss, vision, or hearing including remote communication services and adaptive location systems.
What can healthcare providers do to increase cybersecurity during transformation efforts?
With the adaptation of many different applications, devices, and technologies, security risks grow exponentially. Healthcare business leaders and management must prioritize security in IT ecosystems to build patient trust and avoid financially catastrophic breaches.
This includes staff education, technology infrastructure that works together without silos, and zero trust authentication and authorization protocols on all devices.
Want to learn more?
The “Operations Pain Points Solved” series highlights common issues faced by organizations everywhere. Read the other blogs in this series to learn about establishing a target operating model, optimizing the customer experience, transformation planning, managing people, and more.