Healthcare is a trillion dollar industry which includes hospital care, clinical services, nursing homes, home healthcare, medications and research and development.
And like any industry, clever digitization can be used to bring the costs down and improve the productivity of all those involved in this industry. The importance of digitization is well understood, even by the masses. But some businesses and industries are still playing catch up. Healthcare businesses stand to gain a lot by making the shift to digitization.
Some healthcare businesses might even resist change and claim they can manage just fine without digitization. But those who do introduce technology into their healthcare business processes will can get themselves an edge over the competition.
Let’s explore why…
Automation of Administrative Tasks
This might be hard to believe, but administrative expenses make for more than a quarter of total hospital spending, the highest of any first world country. What’s more, doctors spend less than a third of their time actually attending to patients.
Instead, what takes up most of their time is repetitive and frustrating administrative work. Some doctors spend up to one third of their time entering patient notes into the EHR. This might sound ridiculous, but there is a lot of paperwork involved in most healthcare jobs.
Be that as it may, a physician’s time is a precious commodity and should not be wasted on handling administrative tasks and feeding data to a system. This is where digitization can help by automating boring, repetitive tasks that doctors and clinical staff find themselves doing often.
Some human intervention might of course be needed, but today’s AI systems are pretty smart. They can even be programmed to provide prescription suggestions and reminders for patients.
Automating administrative tasks that evidently, take up so much of a physician’s time will undoubtedly prove to be a huge boost to efficiency of the healthcare industry. Just remember, physicians spend one-third of their time attending to patients, because of the bane of administrative work.
Access to detailed patient records is hugely important, as it can help physicians correctly diagnose a patient, especially in emergency situations where the patient is unresponsive. Healthcare is an information-rich enterprise, and information storage and distribution has pretty much been solved by modern technology.
Thanks to widespread adoption of cloud technology, information is now available at an instant across a multitude of devices. Electronic health records in the same way can take advantage of the cloud and be universally available. EHRs typically contain information such as patient’s appointments, latest ailment, number of visits, ailment history, medications, diagnoses and much more.
It’s quite common to come across patients who have medical conditions that require them to seek treatment from different specialists. In these cases, it is important that every physician treating the patient is in the loop about the other treatments and medications the patient is being administered.
Digitization can enable seamless communication between physicians in these cases, just as it has in the modern workplace. With the help of constant communication, the physicians can prescribe treatment and medication that is overall the best for the patient and does not have any conflicting elements.
Moreover, communication also means the physicians will know what’s working and what isn’t, so they can modify the treatment and medication as required, knowing that everyone involved with the patient has up to date information about the case.
Safety of Medical Records
The importance of medical records requires no explanation. Medical records that have been maintained in paper form are always susceptible to natural disasters and human negligence.
That’s not to say that digital records are completely safe from all mishaps, but the chances are dramatically low. Today especially, with widespread use of cloud technology and all its advantages, digital medical records should be an obvious choice for the healthcare industry. Digital records also carry the advantage of easy access, no matter the time or location. Cloud technology also has lots of fail-safe measures so the data stays secure even in the event of natural disasters or human negligence.
Digitization can and has enabled the remote monitoring of patient health. Smartphones and health wearables have made it easy to capture real-time health data such as heart rate, blood pressure and even generate ECGs.
With this data uploaded to the cloud, technology can enable real-time monitoring of patients by their physicians. What’s more, round-the-clock monitoring isn’t necessary as systems can be programmed to generate ‘alarms’ once the data crosses a certain threshold. What makes this even more plausible is that wearable technology has gained widespread adoption, with nearly 100 million users in 2018.
Even back in 2012, nearly 2.9 million patients across the world were using some sort of home monitoring systems. Pacemakers also function as remote healthcare monitoring systems, and can send data to remote doctors. With these measures, help can be given to patients even before first responders get to a patient in critical condition.