If the healthcare industry really needed another wake-up call to get its digital house in order, boy did 2021 deliver and then some. COVID-19 is...
The State of Digital Transformation in Healthcare in 2021
Digital transformation in healthcare has been a hot topic in the industry for the last decade.
The recent 9th Annual Industry Pulse Survey provides critical insights from 185 healthcare leaders on 16 crucial topics for the healthcare industry in 2021, including market trends, critical and data analytics, cybersecurity, and more.
The recent study is aimed towards healthcare stakeholders who can learn about the latest digital trends in healthcare, the biggest challenges, and investment opportunities.
Reading the entire report can be time-consuming, and involves metrics that aren’t relevant in regards to the digital transformation in healthcare.
In this article, we have summarized the most important report findings.
What consumers are demanding from healthcare providers
One thing this survey picked up on this year is that consumers are demanding better and more convenient access to healthcare services and better price transparency.
This could be a big opportunity for external businesses who wish to challenge the current frontrunners in the industry, with cost transparency apps and digital payment options predicted to be in great demand in healthcare over the next few years.
Services like telehealth/ telemedicine, which have been implemented by over half of the respondents in this survey, are also gaining popularity as more consumers seek convenience over sticking with what they already know.
Tech and retail companies are expected to dramatically impact the delivery of healthcare services
One of the biggest trends in healthcare last year was the revelation that outside influencers are having a significant impact on the healthcare industry, forcing many organizations to change their business models and marketing strategies.
The biggest influences are thought to be the technology and retail industries, whose customer-centric innovations could be essential for re-imagining and improving patient engagement.
The results of this survey show that 32.2% of those interviewed believe that big tech and retail companies will have a significant impact on the current healthcare business models.
When asked to be more specific about their thoughts, innovations in care delivery (13.3%) and better consumer experience (11.5%) were said to be the biggest causes of change within the healthcare industry, which aligns with the current strengths that the retail and technology markets can bring to healthcare as a whole.
It’s thought that the big 4 companies Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft will have the most influence on these changes over the next few years. Check out this in-depth report on how these companies are revolutionizing healthcare.
It isn’t just in this area that outside influence could change the way that care is provided, however.
Additionally, respondents also identified transportation (39.1%) and food insecurity and access (27%) as big barriers in providing care and healthcare services to those who need it most.
To solve this, organizations like Lyft and Uber have begun regularly engaging with providers and payers to transport patients to hospitals. And in fact, last year, there was a 7% drop in ambulance requests attributed to ridesharing services in the Bay Area.
Organizations that offer food deliveries are also being seen as another solution that can improve healthcare. With more options like Uber Eats offering healthier alternatives to traditional fast food deliveries, home delivery health services are recognized as having a positive impact on Americans’ health.
Digitalization could provide more personalized care for patients
One of the biggest changes we’ve seen in the healthcare industry in the last few years is the use of online patient portals, with 73.1% of respondents in this survey reporting their organizations have deployed digital solutions to help patients access their medical data and records.
Despite this, just 6.9% of facilities are focusing on providing personalized content that meets the individual users’ needs.
The good news is that digitalization could fix this, with 11% of organizations looking to identify patients’ communication preferences over the next 12 months, which is the first step towards providing a more engaging customer experience.
With over 50% of respondents saying they are planning to implement machine learning and artificial intelligence, this process could soon become easier, making personalization more accessible to the healthcare industry as a whole.
Analytics are key to improving quality of care and patient outcomes
Web Service Analytics are becoming more and more popular in the healthcare industry, according to the 9th Annual Industry Pulse Survey. This has, in turn, improved quality of care and patient outcomes.
30% of the respondents in this survey said that the use of analytics has had a positive impact on patient and workflow management in the healthcare industry. Coming in at slightly less than this, 28% of respondents went on to say that the use of analytics was very effective at making their organizations more productive last year.
This is despite reports that progress in the use of analytics has been limited in the last year, which has been attributed to issues concerning data sharing, a lack of standardized analytics framework, and concerns regarding privacy and data ownership.
The adoption of analytics solutions is not (yet) effective in reducing healthcare costs
Despite analytics providing healthcare organizations with the ability to breakdown their costs and see just where their money is going, many survey participants are not sure analytics are very effective at reducing healthcare costs.
In fact, 16% of respondents in leadership roles reported that data analytics had not been effective at all in reducing healthcare costs over the last 12 months. This is almost double the percentage of those who gave this answer for other areas, where analytics were seen to be helpful, such as the previously discussed quality and outcome sections.
Though this statistic may initially seem disheartening, the healthcare industry is continuing to make progress towards fully leveraging data analytics.
Once the industry's use of data analytics matures, many participants believe operational cost reductions will follow suit as well.
Healthcare organizations are embracing the use of data collected online
One unexpected finding of the 9th Annual survey is that more and more health data is being pulled from electronic health records to inform clinician decision-making. 30.1% of respondents to this survey are using this method to extract data.
Patient health surveys are also being integrated in the clinical decision making process, with 9.1% of respondents saying they already have these measures in place.
This indicates that stakeholders and healthcare organizations are shifting their focus towards personalized medicine as opposed to population health metrics, traditionally used by large healthcare providers in the past.
These early signs of digitalization in the healthcare industry are a huge success and may pave the way towards digitally-enabled personalized treatment plans.
Digital healthcare cornerstones: patient portals & telemedicine
The survey has pointed out a number of digital cornerstones with their latest report, showcasing the healthcare industry’s move towards adopting patient portals and telemedicine solutions. Telehealth applications have been implemented by 54% of the respondents in this survey.
Most respondents also reported that they expected clinical data integration to become a key cornerstone in the next few years, with just 10.9% saying they have no plans to implement it into their business.
Cybersecurity: a low priority for healthcare organizations in 2021
One of the biggest problems the healthcare industry still faces is the limited ability to share data, with 42.9% of respondents citing this as one of the biggest barriers to providing adequate and timely health plans to their patients.
Concerns over privacy from the public are also making it difficult for some healthcare facilities to further invest in digital transformation initiatives in 2021.
The survey also shows that cybersecurity is insufficiently funded in many healthcare organizations, with many companies refusing to take action until a major data breach sends the payer or provider into crisis mode.
In fact, 37.6% of people say that with so many operational and financial priorities to think about, there simply isn’t the time to prioritize investing more in cybersecurity in 2021.
In addition to this, 40% of respondents say that cybercrime is a moving target, and it’s not worth trying to implement security measures because hackers cannot be outwitted.
These responses suggest that investments in cybersecurity initiatives are currently viewed as a low priority, with many healthcare facilities having a passive view of cybersecurity.
This study also suggests that there are some digital innovations that many healthcare organizations simply aren’t ready for yet, with 47.2% of respondents saying that they would not implement robotic process automation within their facilities.
Do you need guidance with your digital transformation initiatives? Digital Authority Partners has worked with companies like Athenahealth, Omron Healthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield on cutting-edge digital initiatives that improve patient outcomes and quality of care (including mobile, web and marketing projects). Contact Digital Authority Partners at [email protected] or (312) 600-5433.
You may also be interested in reading our in-depth Healthcare industry reports:
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- Artificial Intelligence & the Pharma Industry: What’s Next
- Big Data in Healthcare: All You Need to Know
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- The State of Digital Transformation in Healthcare in 2021
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