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Building a Digital-first Healthcare Ecosystem

Loves getting creative with mundane topics in addition to geeking out over books and movies.

Today, global health has become digital healthcare. Accelerated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry is now encompassing various elements, be it telemedicine, digital diagnosis, electronic patient records, software-based therapeutic interventions, mobile healthcare systems, remote patient monitoring, etc.

And the new generation of digital therapeutics and technology in healthcare will involve a closer and more enormous interaction with artificial intelligence. But while this field’s potential is immense, we still have to overcome several challenges before delivering optimum and impactful results for clinical implementations.

So, in this blog, we will closely look at the principles and implementations of digital healthcare, the challenges ahead, and how we can bridge the gap between its foreword and adoption.

Evolution of Digital Healthcare

Since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, global healthcare has undergone several transformations, especially after infusing technology. According to an article by Deloitte on consumer healthcare trends, virtual health adoption and visits have risen from 19% at the beginning of 2020 to 28% during April 2020. And another white paper published by Researchgate suggests that the use of PGHD (Patient-Generated Health Data) for CHI (Consumer Health Informatics) has rapidly grown in recent years (more than triple when compared to the years 2014-17).

Thus, it displays that in today’s time, patients and customers are more comfortable sharing their data on digital health channels instead of initiating physical sessions and contacts.

Various groups of HCPs (Healthcare Providers) such as doctors, nurses, fitness therapists, pharmaceutical counselors, etc., and HSPs (Healthcare Service Providers) like clinics, hospitals, and diagnostic laboratories known as the healthcare partakers are working together to deliver high-quality facilities to their customers via enhanced technology. They have been working vigorously to reduce the distance between impactful solutions in digital healthcare and its real-time adoption to generate successful results.

The extreme complexities and the inherent rigidness of the healthcare industry came to light after the pandemic, thus further driving the need for technology in healthcare. It suddenly burdened the healthcare providers with delivering adequate and efficient medical care to the consumers without initiating any physical contact or interaction. Besides, people started to look for new ways to access the uninterrupted benefits of the health facilities while being stuck in lockdowns and practicing social distancing.

And nothing except digital technology and tech-based approaches benefited both the supplier and the receiver side. Today, they have become the crucial methods for offering qualified healthcare and the converging techniques for multiple healthcare stakeholders. Technology-based help suits the varying needs of the different healthcare sections like patients, HCPs, HSPs, etc. Various elements of an ideal healthcare organization, such as unified architecture, electronic health records, consent control, pathways for privacy, health analytics, national portability, applicable policies and principles, etc., become effortless to achieve and set up using technology in healthcare.

The need for Digital Healthcare in a post-pandemic world

Our world has changed drastically post-pandemic. This epidemic has affected people’s lifestyles in many ways. And one of the most challenging aspects that we must overcome post-COVID pandemic is the drawbacks that tie our healthcare system.

This subsequent disclosure of the flaws of our health sector has brought into light the various domains we need to pay attention to and work on to enhance the service for the patients. And the lack of proper medical resources has further accentuated several issues for people worldwide. Thu,s in such situations, digital healthcare must solve the conflicting problems and facilitate immediate and long-term impacting results.  And so, nowadays, we have the medical system putting more consideration into the concept and visualization of digital health.

Diagram showing the constituents of Digital therapeutics.

Post pandemic, we need a more flexible and fast working system to tackle any medical conditions. One of the ways to do it is by following the 4-way rule:

  1. Primary care and prevention
  2. Screening of the condition
  3. Monitoring of the patients
  4. Surveillance and service

And by using digital healthcare, we can help the medical systems and service providers deliver quick and reliable facilities to the customers anytime and anywhere in the world without relying on physical contact or face-to-face physical interactions. It will also allow us to stay more organized, keep the people aware, and prevent the onset of any prominent medical discomfort amongst masses in the future.

What forms an efficient Digital Healthcare ecosystem?

Let us look at the 4 A’s that constitute an efficient digital healthcare ecosystem:

  • Acceptability

The first aspect of digital healthcare is its acceptability. And it is indeed a challenging factor for non-digitally native patients. It is not an easy task to duplicate the human comfort and interaction we experience by physically meeting the medical experts and opening up to them about our conditions and destress.

But post-pandemic, it has become a compulsion for us to accept long-distance and distant medical care. Digital health has now become fast-tracked and more acceptable due to the patients having to rely on non-physical ways to seek immediate help while following social distancing. And with the introduction of various advanced technology, this factor will become a norm for our society in the long run.

 

  • Accessibility

Now that medical health care is shifting towards laptops, mobiles, and tabs from the physical boundaries of a hospital or clinic room, everyone can easily access them worldwide anytime and anywhere. We are not constrained to the local or expensive resources that pressure us to compromise our health and choose from rare, high-quality facilities or savings.

 

  • Affordability

Various reports and studies show that an increment in the implementation of technology in healthcare will subsequently bring down the cost of medical services in the industry. The practitioners who initially needed a physical setup (such as a home, a lab, or a clinic or office room) to practice medicine can now do the same virtually at one-tenth the cost from any part of the world.

Also, the swift adoption of digital health will allow the patients to avail expensive and innovative healthcare at very affordable pricing. Since their travel cost will get cut down and they will not have to pay any technical fees, many people can connect with expert healthcare advisors and get cheap medicines and primary care hassle-free.

 

  • Availability

Going digital has the advantage as it can be available 24/7. And it helps patients and customers connect with any health provider anytime without effort and cost-cutting charges. We can make informed and timed choices as per our preference and overcome the challenges of a physical environment. Thus, it helps us embrace the digital surrounding where various services exist to get optimum medical health care right from our homes.

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What makes a seamless patient journey, and why is it important?

Patients constitute a fundamental part of a digital healthcare ecosystem. From the entire process of their availing the medical facilities to getting cured and leaving with happy smiles, everything is a crucial part of this process. And the principle behind making this domain nurturing and harboring together a larger purpose for wellness and health is to convert this field to put them at the center.

Also, an article by the Economist reflects how technology in healthcare is becoming a consumer product in today’s date and changing the face of the medicine business industry. Once the pandemic exploded, the establishment of healthcare startups doubled in 2021, and the investment rate became as much as 57 billion dollars. Its production and service delivery rate also grew to 10% in developed countries like the USA.

Thus, the stakeholders and providers must direct efforts to listen to the demands of the patients and how they can add different elements to ensure that the healthcare ecosystem meets their needs. And due to this rising demand for health as a consumer product, it is now becoming crucial for marketers and investors to collaborate with healthcare providers and improve patient services and experience. So, making the medical journey a seamless effort is necessary for the customers. Here’s why:

 

  • Shifting the service to make it more patient-centric

Healthcare has always been about delivering selfless service to its consumers. And making the people the main highlights of the same will enable the traditional and advanced companies to administer the use of digital and technology-based intelligence services to run clinics and hospitals and administer better care and wellness.

 

  • Making the digital health data accountable

The digital healthcare ecosystem creates massive data regularly. But not all of them can benefit the system and its admins. Therefore it is necessary to provide the patients with processed and well-sought-out information regarding their condition and medication irrespective of the efficiency and tech level of the system (be it high-tech or low-tech). Apart from it, experts should also focus on tracing any malfunction and possible errors in the machine to prevent any wrong delivery of reports and results and facilitate the early detection and recognition of deadly ailments.

 

  • Reducing the painful joints in the system

A body with painful joints will find itself in constant agony unless fixed. The same is for the medical industry and centers. Providing immediate and reliable health is challenging. It impacts the health and service delivered to patients.

But if we pinpoint all the painful places in the system and use relevant technology and tools to fix them, we can tremendously improve the overall medical system. And an enhanced network will help pave a path for a seamless patient journey in the long run.

 

  • Sharing knowledge and designing new systems

To provide effective and well-balanced healthcare, the timely provision and accessibility of clinical knowledge are crucial. In an organization where the service and medical providers are collaborating to expand their field of expertise using conferences, research, training, and practice to make digital healthcare more affordable, accessible, available, and acceptable for the patients.

 

  • A streamlined workflow

Patients benefit tremendously from smooth data handling, clear communication, and systematic service management. An organized and precise road mapping of the patient’s medical history and journey helps optimize the healthcare system and improve the overall care and healthcare facilitation for the customers. It also allows the medical practitioners to personalize their patient’s experiences by giving them good facilities and recording their invaluable insights. These perspectives help the staff and investors to bridge the gap between users and products and make room for improvement in the required areas.

 

  • Focusing on innovative and emerging tech

Once the medical facility providers realize the importance of serving the best service and results, they can add tremendous benefits to the digital healthcare ecosystem and make it more helpful for the patients.

They can work with several tech providers and offer to build a transparent and smooth infrastructure to run an organization. It will not only help bring the mainstream technologies to implementation in the domain of health and medicine but also permit the development of drugs and cures for more illnesses using AI and ML.

Also, virtual and augmented reality will allow doctors to pay more attention to their patients. The nurses and staff can also save valuable time by using EMR (Electronic Medical Record) and aid in the care of the patients and other stressed consumers.

Check out how Zuci’s Healthcare Solutions is aiming for better, faster and healthier patient-care experiences.

Digital Healthcare Players

Who will be the players driving Digital Healthcare?

Let us look at the driving players that will impact the growth and development of technology in healthcare:

Domain capacity

We have specialists in various fields like heart, neurosurgery, teeth, etc., and people travel from different places to meet them and consult their guidance for any relevant illness. But with the advanced technology and its suitable implementation, patients can avail intensive care and proper treatment at less cost and in a more affordable and easy-to-access fashion.

Customer values and feedback

Customer data will constitute a crucial part of digital healthcare. From spoken to unspoken words and their patient’s medical history, be it drug dosage, body vitals, and observed symptoms or need for further medical attention. And patient feedback and analysis of their feelings about the service will also have a compound mark on how digital medical care gets further administered.

Digital tech

With the introduction of digital tech like cloud, AI, ML, APIs, IoT (Internet of Things), RPA (Robotic Process Automation), etc., good user experience has become the main focus for medical service-providing companies. It has unified the bridge between doctors and patients and helped the customers avail cheap and affordable healthcare at their fingertips at the earliest.

Strategic alliances

Medical service is often a chaotic and time-consuming sector where treatment delays can severely affect the patient and their family. Physically, we require to interface with numerous stakeholders during the treatment. But by combining advanced digital tech with medical service, we can merge these windows as a singular window service and help the customers obtain well-sought and comprehensive healthcare (including diagnostics, post-hospital care, and rehabilitation).

Let us also look at the factors that will accelerate the growth and development of the digital healthcare spectrum:

  • New cloud-based platforms – By adopting new cloud-based forums for data access, we can join forces with various other strategic partners and fully utilize the influence of technology in healthcare. And it will help us train our staffs better and get the most out of the resources.
  • Trust and safeguarding data – If we boost the trust and safeguarding of data through AI and ML-based tech, we can also enhance the privacy and security aspects of the medical centers and promote patient safety on a broader spectrum.
  • Initiative to leave no patient behind – The inclusive initiative to leave no patient behind can help strengthen the doctor-patient bond and support the medical industry’s rigid and infamous working and service culture to be more flexible and accepting.
  • Better human experience – By designing digital healthcare to deliver a better human experience, we can transform this industry to be more people-oriented in the future and not only about technology.

How is technology transforming Digital Healthcare?

Today, AI and ML fit well into digital healthcare. They help drive the process of data accessing, exploration, contextualization, and development across different departments in a more straightforward and reproducible method. To expand it further, let us go through the 8-vital steps of data handling using technology in medical healthcare:

  1. Ethical approval
  2. Data access
  3. Querying data
  4. Data de-identification
  5. Data transfer
  6. Quality control
  7. Structure data
  8. Label data

Apart from these, several other gadgets and innovative concepts have gotten added to boost the field of digital healthcare.

  • New wearable biosensors are helping detect metabolites, biomarkers, and electrolytes
  • New and wearable glucose monitor sensors are helping diabetic patients to monitor their blood sugar levels and get immediate medical help in case of emergency
  • Augmented, Virtual and Mixed reality is helping improve the effectiveness of medication and diagnosis, thus providing more accurate results and treatment to the patients
  • Digital tech is also helping patients with PTSD and depression by giving them artificially stimulated surroundings to experience a new and more reliable form of therapy and find slow and steady comfort
  • Screening, diagnosis, and treatment of the illness have become more accessible by humanizing machines and computers and making them understand the complications of the human mind

Also, mobile devices have made it more efficient for users to gain quick and smooth access to various medical experts from their homes without needing to maintain a physical interaction. And it has helped people save time, energy, and money by investing more in their health and less on third-party expenses that come with physical and clinical/hospital healthcare services.

Examples of emerging healthcare Startups

These are the topmost ranking healthcare technology and medicine-based startups or companies ruling at the top of the medical industry:

  1. VillageMD
  2. Tempus
  3. Strata Decision Technology
  4. Rally Health
  5. Flatiron Health
  6. Kyruus
  7. PatientPop
  8. Wellframe
  9. Verge Genomics
  10. Doximity
  11. Headspace
  12. Collective Health
  13. Hinge Health
  14. QuiO

Challenges of technology in healthcare

Let us look at the possible challenges that technology in healthcare will possibly face in the upcoming years:

The limitation of tools and their unbiased implementation is one of the critical challenges of digital healthcare. The scope of developing usable products is still lagging despite AI promising to deliver intriguing applications in this field. Here are other drawbacks that could become a significant threat to productivity and optimum results in the same:

  • Risk of data ownership, scaling, and trust
  • Illegal investment in data infrastructure on n immense working scale level
  • Genuine authenticity and stealing rich metadata can risk the usage license of products
  • Unfair use of vocabulary
  • Breach of medical community standards
  • Creation and implementation of biased AI model

So, what solution can we possibly adapt to overcome these limitations?

The answer is a deep learning approach for every element and service, followed by a step-up checking and verifying the product to prevent the unethical practice of data.

To wrap up:

Digital healthcare can support the immense requirements of health and medicine. By analyzing the enormous amounts of patients’ recorded and generated data via high-tech gadgets, we can club together informatics from multiple sources and use them to guarantee safe and sound health services. Technology in healthcare can also guide patients to suitable disease-centered health solutions and deliver the best results for their speedy recovery.

Though many healthcare solutions are still nascent and require more input and improvision, it is no doubt that with the added benefit of digitization, we can boost their success and provision rate. Furthermore, it is also beneficial in gaining ample amounts of extensive testing and validation based on human results before approving the clinical reliability of any tech-enhanced health service. And by familiarizing medical professionals like researchers, clinicians, scientists, investors, etc., with digital care growth, we can help bridge the gap between medical care and patients and help them feel better and live disease-free and longer lives.

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A web-analytics nerd, speaker - here delving into (Big)-data.

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Ameena Siddiqa is a seasoned marketer with hands-on experience in curating captivating content on the latest cloud, devops and enterprise technology trends. With a keen eye for emerging trends and a passion for storytelling, she has a knack for transforming complex concepts into engaging narratives that resonate with audiences across industries.