Going Digital: The Changing Face of Healthcare
The health sector finds itself in a third age of technological revolution.
Some 70 years ago, health companies, in line with those in other industries, began using fledgeling technology to process large amounts of data and automate tasks like accounting and payroll. Then in the 1970s, further advancements in technology brought about the basis for the National Health Service’s modern-day IT systems.
These were important steps but fell far short of full digital integration. Partly because highly networked technology simply wasn’t there yet, and partially because the innovations focused on streamlining working practices rather than dramatically improving the patient experience.
With wireless technology now ubiquitous and a portable computer in everyone’s pocket as standard, the stage is finally set for true digital transformation in healthcare.
Here, we look at how digital healthcare is transforming the industry by finally putting patients first.
Healthcare is now available on-demand
The obvious starting point when looking at digital transformation and innovation in healthcare is how the industry adapted during the global pandemic.
Prompted by the world being ordered to stay at home, healthcare went mobile in the past year like never before. Consultants turned to telemedicine to fulfil patient appointments, and apps like the NHS Covid-19 app used geolocation features of modern mobile phones to tell people when they were a viral risk.
Backed by increased healthcare app development and the ongoing rollout of 5G, on-demand healthcare is here to stay as an established part of our new normal.
It’s also wearable!
The stay at home order gave people plenty of time to focus on their fitness in 2020-21, and companies in the healthcare industry took note. As we mentioned in our 2021 mobile app development trends post, IoT wearables like Apple Watch have grown enormously in popularity, and the apps market presents plenty of possibilities for enterprising brands in the health and fitness space. We expect treatment plans that integrate with such devices to become a big digital trend in the healthcare industry in the coming years.
Big Data is making for better patient experiences
The wider proliferation of Cloud computing and 5G in 2021 are giving healthcare providers access to big data in ways like never before – and patients are reaping the benefits.
On one hand, having all of that data means healthcare services can make sensible decisions around things like staffing levels and respond according to health risks – something anyone watching a Prime Minister’s briefing this past year knows all too well!
On the other hand, those same deductive powers can be turned towards gaining a better understanding of diseases – such as one Covid-19 study by King’s College London that discovered six distinct types of the virus by asking users to log their health symptoms on a daily basis.
The more Big Data is applied to these avenues, the more efficiently health services will run, and the more healthcare workers will find themselves well-placed to help patients get better.
And AI is making everything more efficient
Where big data gives researchers an incredible degree of information and understanding, AI is being used to assist them in understanding it and coming up with ways forward.
From suggesting treatment plans that consultants sign off on, to lending a hand adapting working schedules, and designing drugs for human use, AI is undoubtedly one of the most exciting digital trends in the healthcare industry. It could even help to secure the supply chain, with AI-powered software able to help hospitals predict when drug shortages might occur so they can get ahead of the problem.
Patients are more informed
Lastly, digital transformation in healthcare has fundamentally altered the doctor-patient dynamic by allowing patients to arrive at appointments with a better understanding of their conditions and potential treatment options.
This can be a double-edged sword, of course. A hurriedly-Googled self-diagnosis can be a recipe for the kind of stresses that actually cause real illnesses! But when directed well – specifically towards credible sources like the NHS app – more information can grant patients an element of agency and ownership over their health which is more likely to lead to successful treatment.
Helping ensure better patient outcomes
At DCSL, we offer several avenues for digital transformation and innovation in healthcare. They include:
- Bespoke web applications, built to optimise workflows
- CRM systems for patient management, designed to improve people’s experience
- Development of apps and wearable technology to help manage medical conditions on the move
- And Cloud-based technologies that can solve your data challenges and help your people work more efficiently.