Everything you need to know about digitization in healthcare this year

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To say that 2020 was a disruptive year would be an understatement.

Recent months have proven incredibly difficult for plenty of industries, with many businesses having to think on their feet to keep afloat. The healthcare industry in particular has been faced with plenty of issues and hardships, but has shown a true resilience and the ability to overcome the circumstances so far.

One element that has helped a good portion of healthcare providers thrive recently is digitization- which is what we’re going to be taking a look at today. In this blog post, we’re going to be examining;

  • Why it’s important for healthcare providers to embrace digitization
  • How these changes could affect consumers and providers
  • How insurance companies may be affected
  • What trends 2021 might bring for healthcare as a whole

It’s a topic that’s essential to go over, and we hope you find this blog post useful.

Why is it important for healthcare providers to embrace digitization?

Firstly, let’s take a look at why it’s essential for thought leaders and predominant companies in healthcare to embrace the current developments in technology and software.

One of the most essential reasons why healthcare providers should be looking to work with new technologies is that they can help to provide a better experience for customers. 

A great example of this is the improvement to patient experience. As noted here, healthcare providers with a good digital standpoint can get much quicker second opinions on a specific case. This can help to provide relief for patients, improve the speed and accuracy of the diagnosis process, and reduce the strain on healthcare workers, too.

Another reason why healthcare providers should be embracing the digital wave is because, put simply, the industry is already heading down the path of digitization. Topics like AI and machine learning have been flooding the healthcare world, as of late. 

If a healthcare organization wants to stay on top of current developments and provide the best experience possible, they need to get in touch with what the industry has on offer right now. Everything from patient records to supply management can be improved with technology, and thankfully, there are new technologies and products being released all the time in our world. 

It’s also essential for healthcare companies and workers to embrace digital methods and platforms for security’s sake, too. Having a digital platform to store patient records, for example, can help to add an extra layer of protection and encryption. Protecting customer anonymity and sensitive data is hugely important, and technology can help with this.

How can healthcare providers digitize their work?

Now that we’ve examined why it’s important for the digitization of healthcare to occur, let’s take a look at how healthcare workers can actually implement technology in order to create the most meaningful changes in their work.

As many of you reading this will already know, here at DataHive Labs, we specialize in artificial intelligence-powered consulting and solutions. AI may seem futuristic to some, but it’s an attainable tool that can create a lot of long-term, powerful changes in a myriad of industries.

One of the best ways that healthcare companies can streamline their working process and create a more positive experience for their patients is to work with an AI consultant. Using an AI tool to spot flaws in records, categorize patients efficiently and to minimize the workload for your employees can have massively positive impacts down the line.

Another key way for healthcare providers to get on board with digitization in the workplace is to create a clear line of communication between patients and healthcare professionals. Using online platforms, mobile apps and automated messaging to give patients the chance to feed back on their experiences is essential for their comfort and satisfaction.

Moreover, encouraging open discussion and feedback from patients can help to provide actionable ways to improve healthcare services as a whole. Implementing automated chatbots and online forms can have other benefits, too, such as reducing the workload for existing employees and shortening non-urgent response times.

We’ve already touched on the topic of AI, but it’s crucial to mention the other benefits that it can bring. Healthcare providers should be striving to include AI-powered tools in their diagnosis sessions and their treatment plans, as these tools can spot patterns and make suggestions based on incredible amounts of data.

AI can help to pick apart hordes of cases and individual examples of a condition, and use this information to predict the likelihood of patients experiencing an issue. These tools can then offer suggestions for treatments or medication, too.

Of course, AI can be flawed and mistakes can be made. However, machines are far more superior to humans when it comes to spotting patterns and working with data. Using AI-powered tools to support patients and care for them is a fantastic move to make in 2021.

Moving on from AI, another way that healthcare providers can improve their work with digitalisation is to focus on their communication methods. We’ve already mentioned chatbots and online forms, but there are a plethora of other communications methods to consider.

Healthcare providers looking to enhance their communication services could try;

  • Replacing some non-urgent face to face consultations with video conferences. This point is both prevalent for the current state of affairs with the pandemic, and relevant for elderly patients who may be unable to leave home.
  • Opening up online counselling and therapy sessions. Mental health care services were inundated with new requests and clients during 2020, so it’s important to use technology to help support these new demands. 
  • Using private messaging platforms to communicate between healthcare locations- perhaps between hospitals in different cities. This would allow for smoother communication, and for a quicker process when asking for second opinions or information about a patient.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive. One of the best things about being in the healthcare industry is that there are so many creative minds working alongside us and there’s always a new piece of technology or tool to watch out for.

What impact would healthcare digitization have on insurance companies?

Another important aspect that’s worth considering when it comes to healthcare and digitization is the impact that it could have on healthcare insurance companies. After all, supporting patients with managing their records and healthcare insurance can be complex- but technology can help to make it much smoother.

Earlier on, we mentioned that digitization can lead to a much safer and more organized storage system for confidential patient files. Having safe, secure and encrypted data files all in one hand means that, if an issue did arise and a claim had to be made, the process would be undoubtedly quicker with a digital platform.

On top of this, the digitization of healthcare could have a knock-on effect when it comes to crime and preventing healthcare insurance fraud.

If a healthcare insurance company suspected that there had been malicious practice with an insurance claim, fact-checking it would be a lot easier with a fully digital, well-optimized platform. AI-powered consultants, proper encryption and even blockchain-powered storage solutions could help to make this so much easier.

Overall, it’s not just healthcare professionals that will benefit from the inevitable digitization of healthcare- it will have a knock-on effect for other stakeholders such as insurance companies and the public; there will be more enrollments and affordable premiums.

What trends might 2021 bring for the healthcare industry?

To finish up, it’s worth going over some of the possible trends in technology and digitization that we feel may be hot topics in 2021. After all, this is the industry that never sleeps and we’re bound to see some new tools arriving this year.

One of the most likely things that we’ll be seeing more of this year is a change in daily routines, due to the pandemic. Small things like face-to-face consultations will be challenging this year, so the healthcare industry will have to prepare to overcome these hurdles. 

A standard day for a healthcare professional won’t look the same by the end of 2021.

We’re also likely to see more companies in healthcare experimenting with technologies like artificial intelligence. AI tools such as conversational AI, patient chatbots, AI assisted insurance claim approvals and fraud detection, auto-diagnostics tools and smart EHR are often thought of as being unattainable or unrealistic, yet they’re increasing in popularity every day. We will see more healthcare professionals using more AI tools in their daily routines to help support and uplift patients. 

Generally speaking, 2021 is sure to be a challenging one for the healthcare industry. However, with good technology, adaptability and communication, healthcare professionals are  sure to find a way to keep supporting and learning from their patients this year. 

To sum up

All in all, if healthcare providers want to stay relevant and on top of current trends, it’s essential for them to engage with digital platforms and technology. We live in such a digital society that industries must keep up with new technologies, in order to keep providing the best services and support systems for their audience members. 
If you’d like to read more about this topic, please feel free to check out the rest of our website– it’s packed to the brim with helpful advice and further content discussing the latest developments in the world of healthcare and artificial intelligence.

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