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It’s hard to overestimate the impact of digital transformation in healthcare. Since the worldwide pandemic, one can’t imagine our world without quick and easy access to healthcare services. And luckily, technologies are driving this process so fast!
But how do we stand out in the overcrowded market of healthcare startups and mature businesses? That is the question every healthcare cofounder should ask.
As a Product Manager with over 5 years of experience in product development, and healthcare transformation in particular, I fully understand the power technologies have on the healthcare industry, and how crucial it is to use this power for the benefit of your business.
In this article, I will share my insights, experience, and observations on how to benefit the most from digital transformation in healthcare.
So, let’s dig right into the topic!
What is Digital Transformation in Healthcare and Its Perks
So, what is digital transformation in healthcare?
Indeed, digital transformation is such an overused term that one can hardly name what it is. So lucky you’ve found this article and will finally figure it out!
Digital transformation is a set of tech solutions that help healthcare professionals deliver a better patient experience, explore and discover new medications, streamline operations, and make on-demand care more accessible.
As Grand View Research shows, the US digital health market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 17.10% from 2023 to 2030, compared to $77 billion in 2022. And technologies play a super important role in this growth.
All the buzz-of-the-moment technologies you’re stumbling upon reading news are already applied in healthcare digital transformation with AI-powered medical devices, online appointments, telemedicine, telemedicine, etc. All these technologies change how patients communicate with medical experts, how they share information, and how decisions are made concerning their treatment plans.
8 Digital Trends to Follow in Healthcare
Now, as we’ve got some general understanding of what digital transformation in healthcare means, let’s look at some practical examples of its implementation.
Telemedicine and Telehealth
Telemedicine is a healthcare technology trend that allows for remote delivery of medical services, like examination, diagnosis, and remote treatment. Doctors use telemedicine to provide their services remotely, reducing the need for in-person visits. This technology is invaluable, especially for patients in remote locations or those unable to travel due to health conditions.
Mobile health apps are also a part of the telehealth tech, enabling patient monitoring, video consultations with doctors, and the transmission of medical data, making healthcare more accessible.
Data Automation and Analytics
It’s all about data now. And for a good reason. Data is a precious resource for informed decision-making, which is paramount in healthcare. With elaborate algorithms that analyze loads of information, stakeholders can get accurate forecasts and provide a reasonable allocation of resources.
Automation in healthcare also contributes to the time and workload optimization of healthcare workers’ routines. Automated analytics can help doctors develop individual treatment plans for patients.
Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
Digital transformation has enabled the shift from paper records to Electronic Health Records (EHRs), allowing healthcare providers to easily store, retrieve, and update patients' health information. These records are shared through secure information systems, enabling doctors and medical professionals to access a patient's history, which leads to better, more informed healthcare decisions.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Of course, we couldn’t miss out on AI/ML in this list of edgy tech. AI in healthcare is actively used to predict patient outcomes, assist in diagnosis through pattern recognition (e.g., in radiology), and personalized medicine for better treatment plans.
Want to know more about how AI-powered chatbots can assist doctors in their work? Check out our latest article A Blueprint To Craft AI-Powered Virtual Healthcare Assistant.
As for ML, the algorithms can analyze large sets of EHRs to identify potential medical epidemics, predict patient outcomes, or produce insights into more effective treatments.
Learn more what Generative AI development services we offer!
Cloud and Data Security
Another tech driving digital transformation is cloud computing and data security. Clouds help medical institutions with unlimited storage of medical records and quick access to them. At the same time, data security instruments help decipher data and ensure safe authentication methods.
Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality (VR/AR)
This one is also popular today. VR is used for simulated surgical training, patient treatment for pain or anxiety, and providing a visual understanding of complex procedures patients will undergo. AR is helpful during a procedure by providing doctors with real-time data and patient analysis rapidly and accurately.
Robots assisting surgeons in their work used to seem like a sci-fi movie episode. Yet, this is the reality of recent years. Advanced robots assist surgeons in performing precise movements during operations, often allowing for minimally invasive procedures and reducing patient recovery times. Robots are also used for repetitive tasks in laboratories or pharmacies.
Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
We’ve all heard about the Internet of things. But the Internet of Medical things - is something unfamiliar. This refers to a connected infrastructure of medical devices, software applications, health systems, and services communicating through online computer networks to improve healthcare quality. IoMT devices include various remote monitoring tools, wearables, and diagnostic solutions.
All of these versatile technologies have one thing in common – they aim to optimize the quality of patient care, improve healthcare outcomes, reduce healthcare costs, enhance the efficiency of operations, improve data collection and analytics, and strengthen the interaction between patients and healthcare providers.
Top 5 Challenges in Healthcare Digital Transformation
Technologies are great! They amaze us with their power and disruptive influence in many domains, and healthcare is no exception. Yet, technologies should serve a particular purpose, be easily integrated into the workflow, and show reasonable performance. This is where challenges arise in making tech a part of healthcare digital transformation.
Let’s look at the top 5 healthcare digital transformation challenges and see how to overcome them!
Data Security and Privacy
With the increasing digitization of patient records and the growing use of digital communication platforms, there is an inherent risk of data breaches. Healthcare institutions hold sensitive patient information, making them prime targets for cyberattacks.
Compliance with data protection regulations (such as HIPAA in the U.S. GDPR in Europe) adds more complexity to digital transformation efforts. Institutions must ensure that patient data is securely stored, transmitted, and accessed only by authorized personnel.
Balancing accessibility and sharing of health records for coordinated care with the need to maintain privacy is a persistent challenge.
Integration and Interoperability
Healthcare providers often struggle with legacy systems that don't communicate well with new technologies. There's a significant need for different health IT systems (like EHRs, billing systems, and scheduling solutions) to work together seamlessly.
Interoperability between different software systems and devices can be a technical challenge, with the diverse array of protocols, data formats, and standards used by other methods.
The situation is even more complicated considering the integration across different healthcare providers, pharmacies, laboratories, and external stakeholders like insurance companies.
Regulatory and Compliance Hurdles
The healthcare sector is heavily regulated. New digital health solutions must comply with a myriad of regulations that govern patient safety, data security, and care quality.
Navigating these regulatory waters and obtaining necessary certifications can be time-consuming and expensive. This challenge is particularly acute for innovations like telemedicine and AI diagnostic tools, which are subject to evolving rules and standards.
The pace at which regulatory bodies adapt to new technologies and create appropriate guidelines often needs to catch up to technological advancement, creating uncertainties and potential liabilities for providers.
Technology Standardization and Costs
The cost of implementing cutting-edge digital health solutions can be prohibitively high, especially for small practices or hospitals with limited budgets. This factor includes not only the initial setup but also ongoing maintenance, updates, and staff training.
Choosing the right technology solutions from a vast and rapidly evolving marketplace is difficult, particularly when making future-proof decisions. Incorrect or suboptimal technology choices can lead to costly revisions or replacements.
The lack of standardization across the industry regarding technology and data formats makes it hard to select systems that will seamlessly integrate with potential future technologies.
7 Steps in Your Healthcare Digital Transformation Strategy
Now, let’s shift to the part where we’re putting the technologies in use. Usually, it takes 7 following steps to start your transformation journey in healthcare digital transformation.
Step 1. Define Your Strategy and Objectives
Start with some self-reflection on what your objectives are. Identify the needs of your stakeholders (patients, healthcare professionals, administrative staff, etc), and set the goals that will make it possible to achieve those.
Take your time for a profound market research and regulatory requirements analysis. Take special attention to such data privacy acts as
- Healthcare accreditation standards;
- Other regional healthcare regulations.
Once the goals are set, it's time to determine the scope. Decide on the app's functionality and services based on your objectives. It could range from patient portals and telemedicine services to appointment scheduling and medication reminders.
Step 2: Plan Your Resources and Assemble a Team
Now, it is time to determine what you can input to get the desired outcome. So make it clear what your starting point is in terms of:
- Budgeting: outline the budget, considering the development costs, future updates, maintenance, marketing, and other expenses.
- A project team: gather a group of the same thinkers that includes healthcare professionals, app developers, UX/UI designers, data security experts, and legal advisors. Ensure you have project managers with experience in healthcare technology projects.
The fastest way to gather a team of professionals is by outsourcing a dedicated team with the expertise and knowledge of your healthcare project.
For example, the Uptech team has the necessary skills and knowledge in building healthcare apps. This Mental Heal App case is a perfect testimonial to that. After profound user research and business analysis, we built an app with a strong value proposition and scalable architecture.
Want to know more about how to find the right app development team for your project? Check our article, Software Development Outsourcing: All-In-One Guide.
Step 3: Design the User Experience (UX) and Interface (UI)
Once your development dream team is gathered, the strategy is built, and plans made, time to think of the appearance of your app, which means – the UX/UI design. To achieve great UX/UI design in healthcare products, use these best practices:
- Create User Personas: Develop detailed user personas representing the app’s target users to guide the design process.
- Design the User Journey: Map out the user journey within the app, highlighting key interactions and ensuring the navigation is intuitive, particularly for users with limited digital proficiency.
- Develop Wireframes and Prototypes: Create wireframes outlining the app’s structure, followed by interactive prototypes, providing a tangible feel of the user experience.
- Gather Feedback: Use the prototypes to gather feedback from a diverse group of potential users and stakeholders and apply this feedback to refine the app design.
Step 4: Develop and Test the App
Now, my favorite part – the healthcare app development. But before we start, you must get equipped with the right tech stack. Decide on the technology stack, considering factors like scalability, data security, and compliance with healthcare standards.
Now, let’s start the development part! Begin the coding process, ensuring regular communication between developers, healthcare professionals, and other stakeholders to align the app with its intended purpose and regulatory requirements.
Remember to conduct Rigorous Testing. Perform various testing phases, including functional testing, usability testing, performance testing, and security testing.
Check a full list of Uptech's healthcare software development services!
Step 5: Address Security and Compliance
The security of patients’ data should have a special place in the digital transformation process in healthcare. There are two layers of data security to ensure user data safety: regulatory and technical.
- Make sure to follow all regulatory requirements;
- Verify that the app meets all legal requirements for privacy and data protection;
- Consult with legal experts to ensure ongoing compliance with healthcare regulations, including policy updates.
- Incorporate end-to-end encryption,
- Secure data storage,
- Take cybersecurity best practices to protect sensitive health information.
Use these 7 ways to develop a HIPAA compliant software
Step 6: Deploy and Market the App
Finally, it is time to market your app. This process needs proper preparations and a semi-step strategy.
For example, firstly, you should deploy the app on various platforms (App Store, Google Play, etc.) and conduct post-launch monitoring to resolve any immediate issues. Then marketing comes into play: build your marketing strategy targeting healthcare professionals and end-users, highlighting the app’s benefits, features, and real-world applications.
Last, but totally not least, track the pulse of the users. Gather feedback and provide accessible support to address questions, concerns, and suggestions.
Step 7: Monitor, Maintain, and Iterate
Once the products are up there in the market, the work is not done. To take a product up a notch, it pays to track the performance and ensure it delivers well. To ensure the product performs well, do the following steps:
- Monitor Performance: Use app analytics to track usage, user engagement, and performance. Check user reviews and feedback for insights too.
- Provide Regular Updates: Roll out updates to enhance features, fix bugs, and improve the user experience based on feedback and technological advancements.
- Plan for Scalability: As the app grows, plan for scalability in both the technological backend (like server capacity) and in the team that manages the app and user support.
- Continual Improvement: Recognize that digital transformation is an ongoing journey. Regularly revisit and update your strategy based on new technological innovations, regulatory changes, and evolving user needs.
By carefully taking these steps, you can conduct a digital transformation for a healthcare business, which plays for the benefit of your business. Applying these best practices, you can ensure that the final product is secure, user-friendly, compliant with regulations, and, most importantly, effective in enhancing the quality of healthcare delivery.
Digital transformation in healthcare is a complex process, encompassing technology, processes, and measures taken to get your business more digitized, automated, and fast. To get the most from the healthcare digital transformation, you should find a team that will help you tap into the best of tech for your business to thrive.