Digitizing Healthcare: The Origin and The Benefits
Digitization has taken the world by storm, moving many industries towards a more effective and efficient way of handling their affairs. A lucrative playing field that hasn’t yet been thoroughly explored is digitizing healthcare providers.
That’s not to say healthcare digitization is stagnant. Though slow and laborious, significant improvements have been seen, such as the introduction of Electronic Health Records.
However, it was not until 2020, the fated year, that threw healthcare into overdrive to figure out how to provide patient care to myriads of people without too much contact. Thus, arose a need to properly consider digitization.
The Growth of Digitization
The ever-growing, ever-changing technology in today’s age is an all-consuming phenomenon. Once we stepped into the age of the internet, going back was never an option.
All doors closed to the old, manual way of doing things. Depending on AI and robotics for assistance was quickly becoming a viable option.
Comfort and ease were the key players in this expanding sphere. Internally, companies wanted to throw information back and forth and collect and discard without breaking a sweat. Analyzing and converting big data into a more accessible form was seen as a long-term investment.
Therefore, programs, software, applications on your phone just a click away that connect with an IoT system broke down barriers and helped organizations reach a wider circle of people with ease. So, what was healthcare doing all this time?
Are Electronic Health Records Not Enough?
For a long time, hospitals and clinics relied on handwritten reports and files upon files of every test and diagnosis a patient ever got, stacked together to maintain a single medical history. Then came the revolutionary EHR software. Gone were the papers to make way for this digitized collection method of storing, accessing, and forwarding patient histories.
EHRs are the first step in the right direction. Sadly, their execution is fragmented and ill-composed to date. A more fool-proof, secure, and efficient method to handle data still requires massive amounts of effort and innovation.
Untrained clinicians cannot be expected to use an EHR system with a poor user interface to work efficiently. Often, that is more of an organizational, management, and training issue.
However, the actual software also has significant data gaps, leaving it a less than ideal source of patient history.
Generally, the way healthcare facilities and hospitals manage data is collecting and upgrading every three years. Furthermore, the data tends to be mostly restricted to in-facility treatments, diagnosis, referrals, and the like, covering as little as 8% of the actual patient data.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t take into account a key variable when it comes to health; social environment.
The Need for a Holistic Digitized Healthcare Solution
Have you ever heard of the extremely popular show called House? The many adventures of a drug-addled medical genius and his team of equally brilliant guinea-pigs as they diagnose rare diseases left and right.
It’s a wonderful show but, we can all agree that it’s a bit of a stretch. Or is it?
One thing they did show got right is how important it is to take the environment and everyday exposure into account when monitoring patient health and wellbeing.
There are many benefits that clinicians can reap with access to routine data about the patient as a whole; their diet, sleep pattern, heart rate indicative of stress, exercise, and the general atmosphere of their homes and offices can reveal a plethora of information.
That information can lead to recognizing symptoms and sources of infections and disease that can put the patient at the center of attention before they even realize something is wrong and think to book an appointment.
Sophisticated forms of AI software can be bio-integrated into electronics to tail all the doings and happenings of a person’s life and continually store significant shifts in their vital signs to cloud storage connected with an IoT system.
Today, the data floating around about a patient remains more towards the administrative processes than data about the patient’s wellbeing. Amending this flaw can rapidly increase the efficiency with which residents within a nursing facility receive care.
The Benefits of a Digitized Healthcare System
Digitizing healthcare providers can lead to a lot of wonderful things. We’ll be looking at a cost-effective, time-saving way to store, use, and forward patient data for maximum care. Furthermore, the advent of telemedicine allows and encourages remote patient care that comes with various pluses.
Responsive Healthcare to a Larger Group
The current pandemic first sent healthcare providers into a frenzy at the start of 2020 when clinicians had to figure out how to administer patient care without in-person appointments.
The good thing about this situation was that a new telehealth system was born, and it is probably here to stay.
Telehealth visits cut the costs of getting a consult and open doors to a larger group of people who may not have access to an excellent doctor because of their location, finances, or any other issue that prevents easy movement.
Elderly folks, in particular, can benefit from this form of remote care once they have gotten over the common tech challenges of figuring out telehealth visits. Chronic illness patients are another category of people that need consistent medical support and prescription readjustments. Therefore, this way of getting help will be much faster for them.
As we continue to get comfortable with this new technology, the goal is shifting to be able to easily track a patient’s vitals and medication.
Patients will learn about symptoms much sooner, and this will allow them to effectively take preventative measures.
Often, people tend to wait till the very worst before considering going to a clinic. With such an efficient tracking system, as well as the confidence that they can be seen by a remote medical professional who already has their medical records, they will likely go in for a checkup sooner than they otherwise would have.
This can significantly increase the quality of life and lower costs.
More Accessibility Means Better Patient-Doctor Relationship
The best thing about this digitizing care system is that healthcare providers will have easy access to all the necessary information for a confident diagnosis so they can provide the best care.
Improved accessibility will also allow easy transmission of patient histories for referrals. Patient-doctor relationships, as we know them, will be entirely redefined based on complete transparency and trust.
Clinicians will have all the necessary data they need without probing the patient to remember important information. In turn, patients will put all their faith in healthcare professionals to use all the present records to offer effective treatment.
Where to Start with Digitizing Healthcare
The road to success in digitizing healthcare will start as any new upgrade starts, with change. The on-paper medical records and in-person clinical visits for issues as minor as the seasonal flu have persisted for ages.
The shift to a new remote and tech-oriented telemedicine practice will take time and effort. It will likely be uncomfortable at first because rolling out a program such as this will not be without its flaws and hiccups.
Start with Building a Team of IT Experts
Digitizing a whole industry means investing in something more than a simple tech-guy that needs to set up a computer. It means building an entire team, a full department, with professionals to handle the advanced bio-integrated software.
Keep in mind, with digitizing, you will be collecting, monitoring, relocating, and preserving critical medical data of every facility patient – their vitals, medication, health history, sleep patterns, and more.
This will take a fully structured department to oversee that the process of digitizing healthcare runs smoothly.
Invest in Advanced Technology with a User-Friendly Interface
We now understand how crucial digitizing healthcare is, so, ideally, we get it right the first time around.
Investing in advanced technology with an easy-to-grasp interface that allows the patients more autonomy over monitoring their health will encourage patient-doctor cooperation and increase efficiency. Wearable health monitoring devices, like watches, are the most popular choice.
Don’t Be Afraid of Outside Influence
Branching out to digitization will require opening doors to professionals outside of the healthcare world. Of course, robotics and IT experts are a given, but you may even be required to create and fill new positions for increased efficiency when engaging with patients.
A new manager or executive could help you skyrocket in the new era of digitized healthcare. As mentioned above, there will come a time when digitized healthcare systems will have a competitive market.
To come out on top, commercial leaders with fluency in the best-digitized healthcare and awareness of consumer engagement will become necessary.
The Future for Healthcare Digitization
As time continues, technology and all that it has to offer is flourishing and improving many people’s way of life. It stands to reason that this trend in telehealth and AI-dependent methods in healthcare will only become more enhanced.
Professionals are now working solely to improve upon and grow these system upgrades into a full-fledged competitive market for digitized healthcare systems and equipment.
Robots and AI will soon sweep across healthcare facilities worldwide to handle major and minor surgeries. These will be far more precise and safer than any manual surgery performed by even the best surgeons.
But, before that happens, we have to start by creating a workable system by digitizing healthcare today.