Digital transformation can sound intimidating and complicated, but in 2022, as more of the world embraces a digital mindset, the healthcare system has a great opportunity to transform and vastly improve their day-to-today operations to provide improved engagement and experiences for both staff and patients.
What is digital transformation?
Firstly, let’s break down ‘Digital Transformation.’ Generally, this refers to the process of using digital technologies to improve or create new business and organizational practices, procedures, and processes that optimize the overall performance of a business. This can be thought of as transforming and re-thinking existing business processes in the digital age.
However, this can mean different things and have very different interpretations depending on your business and stakeholders.
Transformation for healthcare, for example, will look very different for each of the unique groups and systems that operate in very different ways, across the globe. Traditionally many within the industry saw digitization as the simple transfer of documentation from paper processes to a digital environment, but today it can add significant value to overall operations and result in far better staff and patient experiences and care.
Let’s look at some of the challenges faced in 2022 that accelerated, and in many cases acted as the catalyst for, greater digitization within the healthcare system.
What is the post-pandemic future of digital healthcare?
The 2021 Future of Healthcare Report from HIMSS recently shared that 80% of health systems said they plan to increase their investment levels in digital health over the next five years, which, most importantly, also aligns with patient demand for the adoption of digital health solutions such as telehealth and virtual healthcare options.
In recent years COVID-19 has created significant challenges and upheaval globally for the healthcare industry, and one of the biggest impacts came in from the shift in how patients viewed and demanded their care needs.
Some of the key issues and trends emerging in the healthcare industry and driving Digital Transformation in the future include increased adoption of virtual healthcare, rapidly changing regulations and compliance requirements, and AI and machine learning. All of these require a level of internal knowledge management to effectively engage, inform, and educate staff and stakeholders of these new digital solutions and procedures.
Increasing adoption of virtual healthcare
During the pandemic we saw a monumental surge in patients accessing telehealth and virtual care services, peaking at around 78x higher than pre-COVID times in April 2020.
Born out of necessity, this virtual healthcare model was fast-tracked by a number of factors, including regulatory changes and reimbursement models to reduce financial burden on providers, willingness by providers to shift their treatment online, and ultimately, the acceptance of patients to access healthcare in a virtual scenario.
While the telehealth adoption rate has somewhat stabilized, it still remains at nearly 38x higher than the pre-COVID baseline. Many commentators believe we are set to see continued adoption rates of telehealth services and apps increasing again, as health data infrastructure receives greater support, investment and improvement focused on providing better patient experience and care, rather than the urgent and necessary stop-gap built at the pandemic’s onset.
As COVID-19 continues to surge throughout the world and new variants pose continued challenges, we can see virtual healthcare evolving in new ways. For example, there are plans underway in the US to create ‘virtual wards’ that will treat 15% of COVID patients at home with remote monitoring of their oxygen levels. Such a shift requires the buy-in of patients in sharing their health data and being open to tracking it. With approximately 42% of US consumers now using tools and technology to measure fitness and track health-improvement goals, we can assume this adoption rate will continue to grow as access to healthcare needs during the pandemic evolve.
Keeping up to speed with compliance and regulation
Globally, the pandemic has increased pressure on the healthcare system with skyrocketing patient numbers, healthcare employee burnout, workforce shortages, supply chain disruption, and outdated/insufficient supplies or facilities.
This has served to highlight and amplify the ongoing challenges faced by healthcare practitioners, who are often forced to understand and comply with new legislation, processes and compliance, in many instances overnight. As changes are mandated, it is imperative that employees can easily understand and navigate complex patient processes, such as registration, scheduling, and billing. Often these processes mean employees jumping In and out of patient files, finance systems, and patient portals.
Having a single source of truth to deliver the latest approved content to both employees and patients has now become critical.
Panviva’s knowledge management solution helps organizations quickly create and deliver controlled, compliant content. Employees are guided contextually through complex systems such as CRMS and EHRs. Panviva removes the need for employees to frantically search for knowledge. Instead, the relevant knowledge screen-pops appear as they move from screen to screen. This intelligent integration strategy means reduced time spent training employees and more time to focus on patient needs.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning
AI has been used in healthcare to easily capture, analyze, process and communicate the large volumes of complex, unstructured, and sometimes downright messy volumes of data collected and housed by hospitals and healthcare providers. In a hospital or healthcare setting this information might include technical medical data from x-rays, CT and MRI scans, disease control and vaccine guidelines, to handwritten doctors notes and anecdotes passed through word-of-mouth (tribal knowledge) among staff.
In some instances, healthcare practitioners have used chatbots to assist with diagnosis and virtual 24/7 counselling services for their patients. The use of chatbots to deliver fast, accurate answers has expanded further than to patients. Many organizations have introduced internal bots to provide the most up-to-date information to employees no matter where they are working, at home or in hospital. Panviva’s Nugget is the perfect example of how organizations are evolving to enable new hybrid ways of working. Integrated directly within Microsoft Teams, the Panviva Nugget bot is designed to navigate large, complex amounts of information, and intuitively guide users to find the answers quickly. This at-your-fingertips information has the ability to transform healthcare settings, ensuring access by all staff to the latest, most current procedures and guidelines.
What does knowledge management mean for the healthcare industry?
The adoption of any new process or digital solution always requires the buy-in of staff in the form of training, education, up-skilling, compliance, and communication. This is where knowledge management solutions play an important role in this digital evolution. For a long time, knowledge has been a nice-to-have and not critical to enable efficient business operations. Now knowledge is seen as a must-have addition to seamlessly connect people, processes, and systems. While the pandemic has served to highlight many of the shortcomings of existing healthcare systems around the world, it has now also firmly set the stage for innovation, new technology, and digital transformation.
Never before have we seen such an impetus for change. Such procedural and organizational change can seem overwhelming and intimidating. But it also brings benefits and opportunities for healthcare staff and practitioners, such as greater empowerment through knowledge, education, collaboration, and upskilling ̶̶̶ which in turn provides a far greater patient experience and care, the ultimate goal of any healthcare organization.
Learn more about how digital transformation and Panvia’s knowledge management solution can help streamline and simplify information specific to your healthcare organization.