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Digital Transformation in Healthcare: Investing Now for a Better Tomorrow

By: Kip Verkamp, Nabil Kaiser

Healthcare organizations need to let go of legacy systems and processes or risk falling behind.

Technology is transforming every industry, including healthcare — but many healthcare organizations aren’t keeping pace. Almost 85 percent of U.S. healthcare offices use electronic health records (EHRs), yet very few have adopted other digital solutions like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). One study shows that out of 1,840,784 healthcare-related job postings in 2020, just 1,479 of them required AI skills. Moreover, patients are now expecting convenient options like online scheduling, telehealth, and automatic reminders to streamline their engagement with medical professionals.

To stay competitive, reduce costs, and enhance the patient experience, healthcare organizations must embrace digital transformation sooner rather than later. According to IDC, 65 percent of patients will settle with an organization that embraces a digital front door, demonstrating how vital convenience has become in the patient’s search for healthcare.

The healthcare industry may be trailing others in this arena, but not for long. Now is the time to invest in the future before the past takes your organization with it. Here’s how.

What Does an Effective Digital Transformation Look Like?

Healthcare is a journey that begins long before a patient walks through an organization’s front doors. In today’s world, it should look something like this: a patient searches for recommended organizations via Google or third-party health sites. They then peruse an organization’s website, collecting more information before they finally book an appointment online. As their scheduled date draws near, the patient receives text reminders, along with a link to fill out paperwork beforehand. Once the patient arrives in the waiting room, they check in on a mobile device or a tablet and sit for a few minutes before an assistant calls them in.

These touchpoints all serve as opportunities for improving the patient experience. Therefore, a digital transformation needs to take a holistic approach in order to meet patient expectations, connecting all of these dots for a user-friendly experience from start to finish. To achieve this, healthcare organizations must establish a digital front door. 

What Is the Digital Front Door?

The digital front door translates all elements of patient engagement into a virtual experience, digitizing everything from finding a healthcare facility and scheduling, to registration and billing. Instead of calling an office within its operational hours to schedule an appointment, a digital front door would enable the patient to secure an appointment online on their own terms. Patients would also be able to access testing results on an organization’s platform, as opposed to having to contact staff members for related inquiries. Everything a patient touches digitally is a step closer to convenience for both the medical staff and the patients themselves.

With patients already immersed in a highly digital world, healthcare organizations need to meet them there. Around 80 percent of patients say they would like to communicate with healthcare organizations through their smartphones, and 41 percent are willing to switch practices for a better virtual experience. The modern healthcare consumer is expecting a digital front door to step into — if this expectation isn’t met, they may well turn to the competition.

Why Should Healthcare Organizations Invest in a Digital Transformation?

Healthcare trends come and go, but digital transformation is here to stay. Taking advantage of its benefits will not only ensure improved ROI, but also deliver savings and smooth out inefficiencies that cost time, stress, and money. 

Proactive Healthcare Is on the Rise

Patients are changing how they manage their health. The rise of smartwatches and other fitness trackers that scan for arrhythmias, monitor oxygen levels, and track sleep patterns have encouraged these consumers to be proactive with their health, rather than reactive. With 41 percent of Americans willing to share this medical information with researchers and specialists, healthcare is becoming increasingly integrative.

The Demand for Telehealth Continues

The pandemic has accelerated healthcare’s digital transformation due to telehealth’s surge in popularity. The CDC reported a 154 percent increase in virtual visits during March 2020. A recent study shows that over a four week period, nearly 21 percent of adult patients used telehealth to meet with their doctor.

Telehealth introduced patients to the possibility of alternative and more accessible digital healthcare solutions. Eliminating commute times, sending consumers essential documents in advance, and simplifying communication with staff members make organizations with a digital foundation more appealing to patients that value convenience.

Automation Reduces Employee Burnout and Errors

Leaving paperwork and repetitive office tasks to AI-based automation processes clears up staff availability, allowing them to allocate more of their time and energy to important duties like addressing patients’ questions. While EHRs minimize the risk of information loss caused by misplaced paper forms, they could be better optimized. In one survey, 70 percent of practices admitted that administrative work, including updating EHRs, robs staff of time with patients. Using AI to accelerate this process can free up hours of time per week otherwise spent on documentation and administrative tasks, which means increased productivity, fewer fatigue-induced human errors, and happier patients and employees.

Leveraging Big Data Provides Future Insight

Organizations that use digital tools to filter through and analyze data are more aware of who their high-cost patients are, if their system is equipped to adapt to incoming trends, what their standard of care looks like to a consumer, possible avenues for cyberattacks, and much more. Experts predict that big data within the medical sector will jump to a CAGR of 36 percent by 2025. Organizations that cling to traditional methods and don’t take advantage of digital opportunities in the near future will quickly lag behind.

Navigating a Digital Transformation with SEI

There’s no other way around it — healthcare is going digital, and relying on legacy systems to keep an organization functioning will keep it from fully achieving its business goals. Our consultants at SEI have helped numerous healthcare organizations craft digital transformation plans to make patient-physician communication transparent and accessible.

When you’re ready, SEI’s expert consultants are here to guide your organization in embracing digital transformation. Interested in learning more about how a digital transformation will help your organization thrive? Reach out to us today.

Kip-Verkamp

Kip Verkamp

Consultant

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Nabil-Kaiser

Nabil Kaiser

Consultant

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