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Monday, February 6, 2023
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Embracing the Digital Transformation of Healthcare

By Chrissa McFarlane, Founder and CEO, Patientory, Inc.

The healthcare and pharmaceutical industries have lagged behind when it comes to adopting and implementing digital initiatives in terms of patient engagement and experience. However, digital healthcare transformation is happening at a rapid speed with the rise of global pandemic COVID-19. It is one of the positive impacts of innovative technology in healthcare. Telehealth, telemedicine, artificial intelligence (AI)- enabled medical devices, mHealth, remote monitoring, and blockchain-based electronic health records are just a few examples of how digital transformation is taking place in healthcare, which are completely reshaping the way we interact with healthcare professionals, how we share our personal health data with providers and how decisions are made about our treatment plans and overall health outcomes. With the introduction of innovative digital health technologies, the present healthcare system is witnessing a seismic shift in how to deliver valued-based care by putting consumers at the center of healthcare delivery and empowering them to navigate complex health systems.

With the current global health-care crisis all over the world , the demand for technology-based solutions intensified. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated consumer preferences shifts and healthcare delivery innovation. Several changes, including quickly emerging technologies and clinical discoveries, shifting consumer preferences, and new models, were accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic has pressured and forced healthcare organizations and providers to move faster, work smarter and take a more focused and strategic approach in the decision making process. Many healthcare  organizations and providers adopt virtual healthcare services to meet the current consumere needs and their preferences. It has been critical for healthcare to consider and address concerns such as social determinants of health and health system equity in order to tackle the ongoing patient demand  and more complex clinical needs in this crucial time of global crisis.

Virtual care and digital health are not a new concept, they existed before the global pandemic. However, the adoption and use of virtual care skyrocketed during the pandemic as it allows both providers and patients to maintain social distance while offering the best possible care to manage patients’ conditions and monitor overall health outcomes. During the time of crisis, Telehealth or Telemedicine has made it more comfortable and easier for patients, especially the disabled and those living in rural areas, to receive medical care from the comfort of their own homes. Surging demands of the healthcare system and the increasing risk of infection have made telehealth a safe and vital tool. Patients  have been able to seek treatment without fear of being exposed, and doctors have been able to pool resources at critical times. With the increasing demand of virtual care, healthcare organizations are motivated to incorporate Telehealth into their practice or scale up their existing capabilities to meet the needs of patients.

There is no doubt that in the current state of the healthcare ecosystem, digital transformation is a building block of a patient-focused approach. It will not only improve healthcare, but also assist healthcare professionals in streamlining operations, better understanding patient/ consumer needs, building trust and loyalty and enhancing  user experience. Despite the growing industry trend towards transformation, the healthcare sector is constantly facing challenges, including privacy and security concerns, which slow down the technology adoption process. It is recommended that each healthcare system create a digital experience based on the needs of their patient group, while also considering the needs of the care workers who will manage and deliver the experience.

It is crucial to understand that changes  do not occur overnight, and that digital transformation in healthcare is an ongoing process. We need to focus on building a comprehensive strategy to bring changes in the existing healthcare system and enable healthcare professionals to tackle the challenges while maintaining patient-centric and value-based care.

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