How Can The Healthcare Industry Benefit From Digitization?

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Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Predictive Analytics as well as Robotics and Wearables support the healthcare industry in becoming more efficient and accurate. Here's how digitization alters this industry:

The Digital Age has touched pretty much everything in its wake. Where it brings convenience and better organization, there are quite a few threats associated with technological advancement. But this has done little to restrict its entry into the healthcare arena.

As a trillion dollar industry spread over hospital care, clinical services, dental care, nursing homes, home healthcare, medications, and research and development, healthcare can greatly benefit from digitization. In fact, it already uses technology to ensure better patient management and care.

While a few healthcare professionals complain about the new formula for healthcare deliverance, those who have embraced the new ways possess the first-mover advantage of sorts that has strengthened their position for years to come.

Here’s an overview of how healthcare can benefit from digitization.

Better Coordination

Digitization makes it easier for patients and healthcare professionals to remain on the same page. Gone are the days when the patients had to maintain a thick medical records file they needed to bring to every medical appointment. Particularly with medical emergencies, patient history is at the mercy of the attendants who may or may not be well-versed with the patient’s profile. Digitization has leveled this platform to keep both patients and their doctors well informed of every situation.

Patients (as well as doctors) can create and maintain digital records of medical history, preferably uploaded to a cloud where the patient decides who to grant access to. As with all traditional forms of record keeping, it involves a little extra effort, but it pays off in the long run, offering a chronological history of medical visits, tests, and medications. It comes in extremely handy when an uninformed doctor is given your medical case, often in times of medical emergencies.

Patient Inclusion & Patient Compliance

There was a time when healthcare was a one-way conversation; the doctors would prescribe and the patients would follow their recommendations religiously. These days, however, the healthcare experience has transformed into a more retail-like business transaction with a few tweaks. For instance, healthcare isn’t a one-time transaction and there’s more than just money involved in it.

This places a greater emphasis on patient inclusion and patient compliance to ensure the overall patient experience is positive. Medical practitioners need to hear patient concerns and craft a remedy keeping their specific preferences in mind. Not only this, via traditional channels and through technology, they can keep in touch with their patients, offering medical support round the clock. It works well when the diagnosis of a medical condition depends on the way the patient’s body reacts to the suggested medications.

Patient compliance, or the patient’s willingness to comply with the given protocol influences recovery and well-being. Not only are they motivated to turn the tables in their favor but also are likely to go an extra mile for it. It has immense potential in lowering the cost of healthcare.

Better Mapping

Technologies are getting smarter by the day. From monitoring heart rate to counting your steps, the small handheld gadgets of today can log pretty much everything about your body. It’s not just the smartwatch or the smartphone but also the wide range of medical wearable gadgets that have been introduced with time.
And since they are connected to your smartphone, and your smartphone is connected to the Internet, all vital data about your health can be transmitted to the cloud or to the doctor in real-time. Digitization has made it easier to monitor progress and identify alarming situations proactively. You don’t have to wait till the smoke triggers the fire alarm; digitization enables you to identify and nip the problem in the bud!

Higher Awareness

Even today, there is a significant chunk of the population who would prefer to log on to the internet and Google their symptoms instead of making that cumbersome trip to the clinic. And it is the same segment that might end up in the emergency ward due to incorrect self-medication based on horrific diagnosis.

And if it isn’t Google, this segment will be seen on Facebook or other similar forums discussing symptoms and possibilities. About a third of the population is already sharing experiences about healthcare facilities and professionals. Since this bit of information comes from a human, it is believed to be more reliable and trustworthy. What they fail to notice is the fact that medicine is an extremely vast field. Even with identical symptoms, two patients might have very different medical conditions based on environment, hereditary factors and other influencers.

Digitization enables medical practitioners and experts to reach out to this segment with authentic information. Infusing social media channels with proper medical information and enabling doctors to connect with their current and potential patients goes a long way in bringing healthcare costs down.

It is not only about being where you’re needed but also about putting out a message to the wide audiences. For instance, according to a statistic, over 0.3 million deaths annually are associated with obesity. While it’s impossible to leave a job because it is making you obese, you can maintain your health even at work. For the most part, this medical condition is curable with some dietary control and exercise. Doctors can raise red flags concerning societal norms to inform masses about their mistakes and put them on the road to better health and longevity.

The Grave Side of Digitization

There’s a whole list of revolutions brought about by digitization in the healthcare industry. But as with pretty much everything created by humans, there’s a downside to technology. Apart from the fact that technology may fail you at times, the greatest risk here involves compromising patient privacy.

Not all patients will be comfortable putting their personal information out to the public. And this doesn’t mean digitization does this all the time. But there are hackers all over the world who would love to gain unauthorized access to your personal and financial information, misusing this data for their own gains.
People in this industry, particularly IT experts, have realized this problem and are working diligently to limit this threat to the minimum with the launch of HIPAA compliant telemedicine platforms. While digitization offers the convenience of a lifetime, it wouldn’t hurt to maintain a physical file as well, just in case.

Digitization is growing rapidly and is clearly here to stay. You can shun the technology till it has already become a norm or embrace it and be one of the first ones to explore its potential. The choice is yours!



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