Healthcare is in the midst of a digital revolution. Paper patient files are mostly a thing of the past —today, nearly everyone’s health history is kept electronically.
But even as electronic medical records (EMRs) and accompanying online and mobile patient portals have become the norm, some healthcare providers and hospital systems still struggle with how best to manage the deluge of digital patient information safely and securely.
At the same time, healthcare, as an industry, is facing new challenges about optimal ways to leverage emerging digital technologies surrounding telemedicine, remote patient monitoring and other virtual care delivery models.
The digital revolution is an exciting, pivotal moment for healthcare advancement — but to make the most of it, adoption must be managed effectively.
Reports suggest the global digital health market — worth $175 billion in 2019 — could grow to nearly $650 billion by 2025. The quick market growth points to the degree to which individual healthcare providers and healthcare systems are embracing the digital revolution.
As care providers work to further integrate new digital capabilities into their delivery platforms, they should keep several goals top of mind:
- Securing patient data
In 2022 alone, more than 52 million people faced data breaches in which portions of their private healthcare information was leaked — all at a time when hospitals and healthcare systems are increasingly finding themselves the target of cyberattacks. In this climate, providers understand how vital it is to secure patient data. Yet, at times, they’re not certain how best to achieve this goal.
To develop a strong digital security strategy, providers should start by conducting an audit of their existing digital information systems, looking at factors including data collection procedures, data integrity safeguards, cyber protocols and systemwide interoperability — including steps to replace or upgrade antiquated EMR systems, which may be vulnerable to attacks.
By conducting a deep dive into existing systems, providers can identify security gaps and areas for improvement, including opportunities to integrate the latest security protocols and defenses.
- Increasing access to care
COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of remote care models and demonstrated how effective and beneficial they can be. Remote care allows patients to receive healthcare in the comfort of their home, enhancing convenience and lowering some costs associated with delivery. Even more significantly, telemedicine offers an affordable and practical means of providing healthcare to long-underserved areas, including rural areas that often lack specialist providers. As systems work to grow their telemedicine offerings, increasing access to patients without easy access to local care providers should remain a driving goal.
- Rethinking care delivery
As the U.S. grapples with well-documented nursing and physician shortages, healthcare systems can use digital advances to reduce care delivery burdens on already stretched-thin staff. For example, AI-powered, remote patient monitoring systems make it possible for even a small team of dedicated telehealth providers to oversee long-term, at-home monitoring of a large group of patients dealing with chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart failure, hypertension and more. In the coming years, remote care delivery options will undoubtedly grow and expand, and healthcare systems that are laying frameworks now will be in the best position to capitalize on these new technologies.
- Improving care outcomes
Already, many healthcare systems use data from various, digital-based optimization platforms to track their performance on everything from patient intake procedure times to long-term surgery and treatment outcomes. Digital systems are also widely used now to automate certain routine aspects of care, including patient data entry or billing paperwork — saving human staff members countless hours of time.
When it comes to the power of digital information to improve care delivery and patient outcomes, this is just the beginning. As technology advances, AI-backed digital systems will transform physician training, improve medical diagnostics, speed appointment scheduling, enhance personalized patient care and streamline care delivery across multiple providers — among other advanced outcomes.
Over the next decade, digital systems are certain to play an even larger role in healthcare delivery. Admittedly, there will be hurdles to overcome — including developing long-term reimbursement models for remote care and providing appropriate monitoring to support digital-based care operations, to name just two pressing priorities.
But finding answers to these challenges will be worth the effort. Digital technology is already transforming healthcare for the better.
Most exciting of all? As advances occur, digital technology will continue to push evolutions in care delivery, benefiting both patients and providers — even in ways we cannot yet imagine.
How Wipfli can help
Healthcare delivery is evolving. So are patient expectations. Healthcare organizations across the country are adopting digital solutions that push patient care forward, and the only way for your organization to keep up and keep moving forward is to embrace new technology. Our healthcare practice is ready to help make the digital future work for you. Learn more about our digital services for healthcare organizations