“Digital transformation” is a buzzword with big promises. But how can you apply it to your medical practice and leverage the latest technologies to streamline workflow, reduce cost, increase revenue, and improve the patient experience?

Here’s what you need to know about digital transformation in the healthcare industry:

What’s Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is more than just signing up for a few SaaS products or building an online patient portal.

It’s a holistic approach to the way your medical practice incorporates technologies to improve operation and deliver value to patients. Effective implementation often requires a change in an organization’s culture, structure, and workflow to maximize the ROI.

Instead of focusing on specific technologies, digital transformation happens at the strategic level with the goal of streamlining operations, reducing costs, and improving profits. As such, digital transformation can look very different for various organizations depending on their objectives.

For example, some medical practices may add cloud computing capabilities, while others may automate the billing process or use IoT devices.

The objective of your digital transformation strategy should focus on implementing the most appropriate technologies to simplify business processes, improve operational efficiencies, streamline the patient experience, improve patient outcomes, and increase profitability.

Digital Transformation Trends in Healthcare

Here are some key digital transformation trends and technologies for medical practices and healthcare organizations:

Telemedicine

Today, there are 7 million telehealth patients worldwide. Telemedicine technologies are providing patients with the convenience to get the care they need when they need it or gain access to specialists that may not be available where they live.

With the help of mobile apps and cloud communication platforms that facilitate voice calls, video conferencing, chat/instant messages, and file sharing, it’s becoming easier than ever for healthcare practitioners to communicate with patients online.

Artificial Intelligence

With the help of AI-driven technologies such as machine learning, you can process patient data faster and more accurately. For example, these technologies can analyze CAT scans up to 150 times faster than human radiologists and detect acute neurological events in just 1.2 seconds.

Not only does AI help process data and interpret a vast amount of information much faster without any human intervention, but it also reduces wait time for test results, allowing you to deliver a better patient experience.

Robotics

With the advance in AI technologies, the capabilities of robotic devices have increased tremendously. These technologies can be used to handle repetitive tasks (e.g., restocking supplies, monitoring vitals) to boost efficiency and minimize human errors. This also frees nurses up to perform tasks that require human decision skills or empathy.

In addition, robotics are used to improve treatment and patient outcomes. For example,  microrobots can travel throughout the body to deliver medication at precise locations or repair damaged cells.

Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)

The development of mobile applications, telehealth technologies, and wearables is set to lead to a surge in the use of IoMT (e.g., ECG and EKG monitors). Many practitioners are already using IoMT to take common medical measurements, such as skin temperature, glucose level, and blood pressure readings.

With more attention paid to data collection, connectivity, and data security, the use of IoMT is only going to rise. Between 20 and 30 billion IoMT devices will be deployed by 2020, and the market for IoT devices in healthcare is projected to reach $136 billion by 2021.

Cloud Computing

A cloud computing platform offers many benefits. Examples include:

  • Storing patient records in a centralized location so you can access real-time updates from different offices.
  • Upgrading automatically to the latest technologies as part of the subscription plan.
  • Having the ability to scale up or down quickly to optimize your budget.

Not to mention, cloud computing allows you to get up and running quickly with minimal upfront IT investment. You don’t need to worry about ongoing costs like hiring an IT team for maintenance, paying for upgrades, or replacing servers.

Cybersecurity

The healthcare industry is a prime target for hackers due to the vast amount of sensitive patient information medical facilities handle. With increasingly strict industry regulations, such as HIPAA, the cost of protecting patient data or staying compliant has become prohibitively high.

Employing a large IT team or security experts is not affordable for most practices. More medical facilities are outsourcing various functions (e.g., billing) to vendors that meet various industry standards (e.g., HIPAA or HITRUST) so they can stay compliant at a fraction of the cost.

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Billing and Payments

As patients are responsible for a larger portion of medical bills, you need to streamline the patient experience and payment process to make it easy for them to pay their bills. This will help you shorten your billing cycle and maintain a high collection rate.

Also, more consumers now prefer to pay their bills online. You should offer digital patient statements and allow patients to make payments using various methods (e.g., credit card, PayPal) via an online patient portal. You can also incorporate QR codes in your paper statements to encourage mobile payment.

Online billing and payment technologies can be complex. Outsourcing the process to a trusted vendor can help streamline administrative tasks, lower operating costs, and increase your profits. What’s more, when you work with a trusted provider that’s HITRUST-certified, you don’t have to worry about the high cost associated with cybersecurity or the risk of violating industry regulations.

Final Thoughts

The healthcare industry will undergo digital transformation at a fast pace in the coming years. The ability to leverage the right technologies to meet your business objectives will help you reduce costs, streamline processes, improve the patient experience, and deliver better patient outcomes.

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Heather Turnbaugh is the Content and Social Media Marketing Manager at MailMyStatements. She enjoys snowboarding, working out, and napping.

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@hjturn58

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