Bethany Cornell, PR executive at Found writes about how digital transformation can benefit the future of healthcare.
Modern consumers have quickly got used to the convenience and speed offered by digital technology, with new developments leading to more personalised, high quality services with real-time information any time, anywhere. Unsurprisingly, patients expect the same from their treatment, which is placing demands on healthcare providers to keep up – despite the fact that 88% of the adult population use the internet, only 2% claim to have had any digital transaction with the NHS.
Simple measures like automation and digital communication can make the lives of healthcare professionals easier and improve the experience for patients. The innovation required to maintain the level of service demanded by patients relies on an IT infrastructure that is robust, adaptable and scalable, meaning that digital transformation is a priority for both public and private organisations that provide healthcare.
How the numbers stack up
Sungard Availability Services’ report surveyed over 2,000 IT decision makers and business employees in healthcare from the US, Canada, France, Sweden and Ireland, finding that while the majority of decision makers see the value of such a transformation and are keen to make it happen, to get there from where they are at present requires significant investment in technology and personnel.
As many as 85% of IT decision makers in private healthcare see digital transformation as a priority, while 60% in public healthcare felt the same way. Having said this, the intention alone is not enough, with these digital demands creating challenges for healthcare providers – more than half of private healthcare respondents believe that they don’t have the required technical skills or the time to invest in transformation, with 85% of those in the public sector saying they would need to employ new staff with the necessary skills to make it happen.
The benefits of digital transformation
Getting digital transformation right is key and will bring benefits in several areas including efficiency, productivity and patient satisfaction. Half of the survey respondents believe that digital transformation will drive revenue growth and even more feel it could improve customer satisfaction, while 42% feel it will bring improvements in security and the speed of product development and service deployment. Two-fifths of respondents in private healthcare think that it will also improve business agility, organisational resilience and data governance.
Some 76% of healthcare professionals believe that digital transformation will improve productivity, and 84% in private healthcare say that meeting the digital demands being placed on the industry is critical to remaining competitive. Respondents sited numerous benefits of such a transformation, with 84% of private sector decision makers saying it makes their job more exciting. Almost half of those, as well as over 60% of all employees in both public and private healthcare, also claim that it makes their jobs easier. Almost three quarters in private healthcare and 64% in the public sector believe that it will improve staff productivity, and 72% of private healthcare employees consider having access to the latest digital tools important to them.
Engaging patients in their healthcare
A recent study by Accenture found that 88% of doctors and 77% of patients feel that patients will be more engaged with their healthcare if they are able to update their own Electronic Health Records, and 81% of patients believe they should have full access to their EHRs.
The rise of health apps, devices and wearables is an interesting area to explore, with the market showing growth and 73% of patients in England stating they would be willing to wear technology for health tracking purposes. Some 86% of doctors and 65% of consumers believe that doing so would help patient engagement with their own health.
The figures show that transformation is important to meet the digital demands of patients and modernise healthcare to the benefit of staff, patients and the industry at large – but there is clearly still work to do before such transformation can be achieved, and the challenge now is to bridge that gap.