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Digital Transformation in Healthcare & Key Trends

Improving the Care Relationship Between Clinicians & Patients

Digital health encompasses digital care programs, technologies with health, healthcare, living, and society to enhance the efficiency of healthcare delivery and to make medicine more personalized and precise.

In short, digital healthcare is a broad, multidisciplinary concept that includes concepts from an intersection between technology and healthcare.

Digital healthcare plays an increasingly important role in healthcare today. This includes mobile health applications, electronic health records (EHRs), electronic medical records (EMRs), wearable devices, telehealth and telemedicine, augmented and virtual reality as well as personalized medicine.

Worldwide adoption of electronic medical records has been on the rise since 1990. Recent global concerns related to ageing, child illness and mortality, epidemics and pandemics (COVID-19 included), increasing costs, and the effects of poverty and discrimination on access to healthcare have driven digital health platforms, health systems and related technology to grow rapidly and to evolve.

Who Are the Stakeholders?

Digital health is a multi-disciplinary domain; thus, it involves many stakeholders, including clinicians, researchers and scientists with a wide range of expertise in healthcare, engineering, social sciences, public health, health economics and data management.

Generally, digital health interconnects health systems to improve the use of computational technologies, smart devices, computational analysis techniques, and communication media to aid healthcare professionals and their patients manage illnesses and health risks, as well as promoting health and wellbeing.

Key Trends in Digital Healthcare

  1. Rise Of On-Demand Healthcare – The healthcare industry is entering the era of digital innovation, as patients seek on-demand healthcare at their own convenience, on their own time. Companies such as Nomad Health – an online marketplace that links doctors directly with medical facilities for short-term work – are making it easier for physicians to provide on-demand healthcare to clients in specific circumstances that match their talents, expertise, and schedule.
  2. AI & Big Data – The digitization of health information led to the rise of healthcare big data, which is vast and complex. It is often processed by machine learning algorithms, artificial intelligence (AI) and data scientists. Advances in AI, big data, robotics and machine learning continue to bring about major changes in digital healthcare. It helps to reduce medication errors, aid preventive care and manage healthcare staff more effectively and efficiently.
  3. Augmented & Virtual Reality – The myriad of VR applications in healthcare are profoundly changing the way patients are being treated. VR technology is being used not only to treat pain, but everything from anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder, and stroke. Doctors and residents are also using VR simulations to hone their skills or to plan complicated surgeries. In addition, VR headsets could motivate wearers to exercise and help children with autism learn how to navigate the world.
  4. Wearable Medical Devices – In the digital age, users who are health conscious are focusing on prevention and maintenance, and constantly rely on information about their health. Healthcare companies are being proactive by investing in wearable technology devices that can provide up-to-date monitoring of high-risk patients to determine the likelihood of a major health event. Modern gadgets have built-in heart rate sensors, exercise trackers, sweat meters – used for diabetics to monitor blood sugar levels, oximeters that monitors the amount of oxygen carried in the blood and is often used by patients with respiratory illnesses such as COPD or asthma.
  5. Predictive Medicine – Big data and AI does not only provide clinicians with better healthcare solutions for patients, in the long run, it can also help predict what illnesses and diseases will become major problems in the near future. For example, a predictive analysis could help businesses of all sizes determine when to hire temporary staff due to impending outbreaks of a cold or flu that could result in a worker shortage.

Potential Benefits of Digital Healthcare

Both providers and patients can reduce costs with the use of digital healthcare. One recent study found most of those savings came from keeping patients out of emergency rooms when they do not need to go to one. For example, the telemedicine platform of Jefferson County Hospital, JeffConnect, saved around US$ 300 to US$ 1,500 cost per visit to the hospital and US$ 19 to US$ 120 per visit to patients. In another example, one diabetes cohort created impressive outcomes and estimated cost savings of US$ 3,855 per patient per year.

The digital element also provides a sense of safety and security, which is crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been fewer cases of influenza in the 2020-2021 flu season than in any season on record. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there have been about 2,000 cases recorded since September 2020, which is just a small fraction of the average number of cases over the same period of time in recent years which stands at 206,000. The measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 almost eliminated this flu season.