Healthcare has always been dynamic and complex, entailing provider adaptation to changing patient needs. This is more true now than ever as we adjust to new payment models, consumer-driven healthcare, and the need for greater access to care – all while building on the lessons learned from the pandemic accelerated digitization. As digital technology has become an integral part of the industry and is poised to revolutionise medical practice, digital transformation is one of the most trending topics in the healthcare industry today, particularly in digital health. From the board and the C-suite to the health IT team, doctors, and nurses, everyone is talking about how digital technologies can change the industry and lead to better care and outcomes. In fact, 7 percent of healthcare and pharmaceutical companies specialising in medical technology said they had gone digital in a recent survey. As a result of the transformation, both healthcare professionals and patients have had a significantly better overall experience.
The Indian healthcare industry is about to undergo a major digital transformation. While Covid-19 exposed our healthcare system’s flaws and pitfalls, technology is allowing the industry to leapfrog gaps in medical care and infrastructure. Around 80% of healthcare systems plan to increase their investment in digital healthcare tools over the next five years, according to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s (HIMSS) 2021 Future of Healthcare Report. According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s (HIMSS) 2021 Future of Healthcare Report, over the next five years, about 80% of healthcare systems plan to increase their investment in digital healthcare tools.
The key impact of digital technologies on medical devices and healthcare.
- Treating patients with the help of Virtual Reality.
People would have looked at you blankly if you told them ten years ago that you could relieve their pain with a device that looked like a video game. Virtual Reality (VR) is, however, the crown jewel of healthcare’s digital transformation in 2022. Its numerous applications are revolutionising the way patients are cared for.
According to studies, virtual reality is a safer and more effective alternative to drugs. Not only is virtual reality being used to treat pain, but also anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and stroke. And that’s just scratching the surface of VR’s medical applications. Virtual-reality simulations are also used by doctors and residents to hone their skills or plan complicated surgeries. Virtual reality headsets may also encourage people to exercise and aid children with autism in learning how to navigate the world.
Everyone is betting on virtual reality, from startups to pharma behemoths, and there are numbers to back it up. By 2025, the global market for virtual and augmented reality in healthcare is expected to reach $5.1 billion. VR is a powerful communication channel that can help you better understand your customer’s needs and virtually engage them with your products or services.
- Remote patient monitoring
During the COVID-19 pandemic, when people were forced to adhere to movement restrictions and social distancing norms, the concept of remote patient monitoring (RPM) gained a lot of traction. RPM with the help of artificial intelligence, is slowly but steadily becoming the future of providing healthcare services to patients by equipping them with a variety of medical devices such as implantables, blood pressure cuffs, sensors, and other devices that allow doctors to access real-time patient data for improved treatment. It is frequently recommended for discharged patients because it allows doctors to consistently monitor their patients and act on vital data, reducing the number of visits to the doctor and speeding up the recovery process. It also serves as a way for doctors to bypass traditional healthcare settings in order to save time, money, and provide high-quality care without having to see their patients.
For example, Navia was a part of the launch of India’s first-of-its-kind smart device, which tracks how patients use metered-dose inhalers (MDI). Built-in sensors in the reusable device tracked daily usage and consumption patterns. Physicians can use the app to track patient adherence to therapy, which can help them improve clinical outcomes.
- Telemedicine and the rise of on-demand healthcare
Telehealth refers to the use of communication technology to provide healthcare to patients who are not in the same physical location, such as video chat via apps or webcams, phones, or video conference software. Prior to the pandemic, telehealth services were mostly sporadic and had a wide range of limitations. They were originally designed to help rural and underserved patients gain access to specialists when local resources were scarce. In the years 2020-2021, telehealth was widely used in all aspects of the industry.
When it comes to the growth of telehealth, the greatest driving force has been patient demand. This demand for easy access to care services will continue, and providers will be held to a higher standard as a result. Patient experience and expectations should be at the forefront of organisations’ minds as they plan for the future of telehealth. Furthermore, as demand grows, more companies are branching out and entering the market, necessitating action by businesses to stay ahead of the competition.
Nobody wants to have to juggle multiple apps and websites for their telehealth experience to be seamless and integrated. Developers are looking for ways to provide comprehensive service using integrated communications like video, webchat, and bots, as well as real-time updates, reminders, and follow-up appointments. Furthermore, it must be streamlined for ease of use, allowing patients to quickly access and navigate all of their information.
In the last few decades, people have simply become far more mobile. However, recent statistics show that mobile devices account for more than half of all web browsing worldwide. The future of care is not only convenient and virtual-first, but it is also tailored to the needs of the customer. As a result, the pandemic shattered long-standing barriers and accelerated digital health at a rate few could have predicted in just a few months. As a result, the growth of the ‘gig’ economy, in which freelance professionals in various industries hire themselves out per job or ‘gig,’ rather than being tethered to one company, is driving on-demand healthcare.
Physicians can now provide on-demand healthcare to clients in specific circumstances that match their talents, expertise, and schedule; thanks to companies like Nomad Health, an online marketplace that connects doctors directly with medical facilities for short-term work. Another benefit of digital transformation in the healthcare industry is that doctors themselves become on-demand healthcare providers to better meet the changing needs of their patients.
- Secure digital prescriptions and digital health
An e-prescription, also known as an e-Rx, is a prescription that is sent to a patient electronically by a doctor. It is generally thought to be error-free and legible, as opposed to handwritten prescriptions, which have a high risk of errors or modifications. However, in India, e-pharmacy apps allow users to upload a photo of a prescription rather than the electronic version. This practice has raised concerns about the validity of prescriptions sent to e-pharmacies via mobile apps.
Traditional paper prescriptions rely on the physician’s individualised prescription pad for security (to prevent fraudulent prescriptions), and staff must safeguard the blank prescriptions. After receiving the signed prescription, the patient must take it to a pharmacy to have it filled. Before receiving the medication, the patient will have to wait an undetermined amount of time, depending on how busy the pharmacy is.
An electronic prescription, on the other hand, uses computer-based security rather than a paper prescription pad. The physician electronically “signs” the prescription, which is then immediately sent to the patient’s preferred pharmacy. One obvious benefit of electronic prescriptions is that the pharmacy can begin filling the prescription while the patient is on the way, saving time.
- Predictive healthcare and real-time diagnosis.
The healthcare industry is changing due to rising costs, an ageing population, and the prevalence of chronic conditions. Global healthcare spending is expected to reach an all-time high of USD 18.3 trillion by 2030. Payment models are already shifting from volume to outcome or value-based in response to these trends. Predictive analytics is assisting health organisations in aligning themselves with these new models while also improving patient care and outcomes. The latest advances in big data analytics and AI are fueling new predictive analytics solutions that help clinicians improve outcomes and reduce costs, from anticipating critical conditions like septic shock and heart failure to preventing readmissions.
Consumer demand for immediate answers continues to rise as technology becomes more mobile and information becomes more readily available. This demand is accompanied by a rise in health-conscious consumer attitudes. Mobile apps that report traffic delays, artificial intelligence software that listens to and interprets commands, and wearable electronics that track activity and sleeping patterns are all aimed at consumers who want quick access to information they can use to make daily decisions. In a world where instant, personalised information is required, diagnostic tests have virtually endless possibilities. Their versatility in sample collection, transport, preparation, and analysis makes them ideal for technology mobilisation and miniaturisation, as well as a wide range of applications. Diagnostic tests may move away from their traditional clinical setting and eventually be found in every home, affecting the way consumers make health decisions and interact with others on a daily basis as a result of this shift toward accessible and up-to-date healthcare information.
Digital transformation of healthcare is more than just adopting new digital technology. It’s all about reimagining healthcare for the digital age, leveraging data, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud-based platforms, and new business models to improve health outcomes, lower costs, and improve the human care experience for both patients and staff. ” This mindset is ushering in a new era for healthcare firms and the products they create. Smart technology has the potential to benefit both patients and healthcare workers. When it comes to technology adoption, healthcare is a laggard, but the pandemic has thrown a wrench in the works, completely changing the trend. As a result, it is expected that the healthcare landscape will change in the future.