Why digital health may be the solution for a sector in crisis


By Sam Psathas, Engagement Manager, Logicalis Australia
Tuesday, 11 May, 2021



Why digital health may be the solution for a sector in crisis

The healthcare sector is facing a series of costs and complexity challenges that include increasing patient expectations and changing regulatory standards. Healthcare workers continue to endure long hours and difficult work, while healthcare providers struggle to become more efficient with managing the rising costs of doing business.

Against this backdrop, the value of digital health solutions is taking shape. Digital transformation in the healthcare industry could be the key to resolving these challenges by delivering better patient outcomes and experiences, less physician and worker burnout, and increased efficiency across the board.

With Australian healthcare consumers having more choice than ever before, they are looking for experiences that make them feel supported and valued. Patients now expect healthcare providers to manage their privacy and treatment seamlessly without errors. This is providing a clear opportunity for healthcare businesses to differentiate themselves from the competition.

However, becoming a leader in patient-centric care can be challenging given the growing demand for healthcare services and the skills gap that could emerge as older workers leave the healthcare workforce.

Digital solutions can help in a variety of ways. For example, digital health solutions can support the management of public health emergencies such as COVID-19 by tracking patients and optimising healthcare facilities for the best response.

Since the pandemic, solutions such as telehealth have proven popular with patients appreciating the chance to consult with doctors and specialists via telephone or videoconferencing. This creates opportunities to provide tailored healthcare solutions to people located outside of major cities, overcoming the tyranny of distance that has traditionally plagued people in regional and remote Australia. When care can be provided in the comfort of a patient’s home, they are more likely to experience positive outcomes. Patient compliance with medication and other medical instructions also tends to be higher. For example, research has shown that virtual care leads to a 74% adherence rate, on average, for heart medication through home-based telemonitoring.1

Keeping digital health records means that crucial medical information is centralised. This makes it easier for people to seek treatment from a variety of practitioners without having to constantly repeat their medical history. The electronic health record can automatically record the results of medical appointments and tests, and real-time results can mean faster time to treatment.

Importantly, digital health technologies can also contribute to a less stressful working environment for healthcare workers. Many spend up to twice the amount of time on administration as they do caring for patients2 — flipping this ratio could lead to a higher level of satisfaction for workers and their patients.

In a recent survey, 59% of respondents said enterprise-wide electronic medical records and adoption by clinical users was a priority. A further 59% wanted mobile solutions for clinicians, while 56% wanted platform and cloud-based services and solutions.3 Australia leads the way in terms of adopting digital health technology, and the digital health market is expected to grow by 32.5% to 2026.4

In the future, digital health solutions could include apps that guide patients through the entire healthcare experience. For example, the app could provide information such as where to park and how to get to an appointment, and let the patient fill in forms digitally, streamlining appointments. Smart rooms can be personalised to suit patients’ needs before they arrive, helping ensure there are no delays in receiving treatment. Given the increased level of competition among healthcare providers, these rooms can also be set up to offer the latest entertainment and connectivity options, so patients can continue their education or work, or simply be entertained while they are in the hospital.

Ultimately, digital health solutions provide ongoing capability and services to support quality patient care, improved outcomes and comprehensive research programs, not only in the short term, but also into the future. However, these digital health solutions require three key ingredients to empower and support patients and clinicians:

  1. A cloud-based platform that helps organisations scale.
  2. Excellent collaboration tools to support remotely based and mobile frontline workers.
  3. Change management training and adoption for maximum uptake and benefit.

Ideally, healthcare businesses would have these key ingredients provided through a comprehensive solution delivered by a trusted and experienced partner that can more effectively enhance productivity, agility and cost-effectiveness for the organisation.

Sam Psathas is Engagement Manager at Logicalis Australia, which provides technology solutions to drive business outcomes and enable greater value from IT investments.

References

  1. HIMSS Insights Special Edition: APAC digital health trendbarometer January 2021.
  2. Christine Sinsky, MD; Lacey Colligan, MD; Ling Li, PhD; Mirela Prgomet, PhD; Sam Reynolds, MBA; Lindsey Goeders, MBA; Johanna Westbrook, PhD; Michael Tutty, PhD; and George Blike, MD: Allocation of Physician Time in Ambulatory Practice: A Time and Motion Study in 4 Specialties. Annals of Internal Medicine, September 6, 2016.
  3. HIMSS Insights Special Edition: APAC digital health trendbarometer January 2021.
  4. https://www.graphicalresearch.com/industry-insights/1164/asia-pacific-digital-health-market.

 Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Have a nice day

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