With the rapid change of technology, never before has the healthcare industry been more connected, streamlined and user friendly. These transformation trends will push for better healthcare, faster and more accurate diagnoses and treatment plans plus life expectancy and quality of life could potentially be increased.
Digital transformation not only sees the implementation of mind blowingly new technology and devices but a strong focus on the processes and procedures that form part of the digital eco system and this is where a lot of the cost and time saving benefits really stem from. It’s a strategic operation of surrounding facets around digital technological integration such as operational agility, workforce enablement, culture and leadership and customer experience that is designed to benefit business and other organisations and that is driven by patients and healthcare workers alike.
Telemedicine as a digital transformation in healthcare
As medicine and the care of one’s health becomes more self sufficient and self directed, telemedicine has an instrumental role, especially as it’s driven by faster, more reliable internet and wireless LAN. (http://www.vertel.com.au/mobile-networks/wireless-lan)
Technology and quality internet services make being remotely diagnosed and treated much more available and accessible for patients, particularly those who live in remote or rural areas or are ageing or too unwell to transport themselves to medical facilities. The time this will save for both patients and health professionals as well as the cost of getting to and from facilities, is going to make a significant difference in the quality of peoples’ lives. This can mean the difference in immediate decisions and critical care whilst a patient is suffering a medical emergency, such as a heart attack or stroke.
‘Remote patient monitoring through mobile technology can reduce the need for outpatient visits and enable remote prescription verification and drug administration oversight, potentially significantly reducing the overall cost of medical care…’ [i] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telemedicine)
‘Generally, the benefits [of telemedicine] include reductions in use of service: hospital admissions/re-admissions, length of hospital stay, and emergency department visits typically declined. It is important that there often were reductions in mortality,’ was noted in a recent study. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4148063)
Cloud storage in medical facilities
Cloud technology is not only crucial in leveraging the incredible volumes of data that exists (and will grow) but will see far more integration and interaction between varying departments, so healthcare will become streamlined and cohesive so digital initiatives can be undertaken in a much quicker and cheaper way.
It also reduces a great deal of paperwork and manual data entry, filing and record keeping, which is not just time consuming but can eat up a lot of physical space, as was the case with Bendigo Health who ‘… is also anticipating saving millions of dollars currently spent on physical storage and retrieval services as a result of having a centralised digitised information store.’ (https://news.microsoft.com/en-au/features/digital-transformation-healthcare-building-hospital-cloud-microsoft/)
It also greatly increases transparency, not just to the staff but to the patient as well and has enhanced security. This is why WLAN has played such a pivotal role in the healthcare industry previously and will continue to do so as it supports these progressive capabilities.
Within the next two years, we’re going to see a fifty per cent increase in the use of robotics throughout the healthcare system. They will be undertaking automated tasks such as dispensing medication, supplies and food throughout facilities which is predicted to save the tax payers in the US up to $1 billion per year (https://www.i-scoop.eu/digital-transformation/healthcare-industry/#Mobility_from_home_and_remote_care_to_mobile_and_wireless_health), which make the efficiency and requirement for such robotics undeniable.
Wearables for health
In the US alone, it’s supposed that up to forty per cent more organisations will implement the use of wearable tech— such as bio sensors, smart eyewear, hearing aids, chest straps, trackers worn on ears, arms and wrists, smart watches and footwear and implantables— in medical related areas. Australia will not be far behind, since we emulate such trends.
This kind of technology is also starting to have non quantitative, yet positive, effects such as empowering people in their own health management and striving for healthier lifestyles.
Artificial intelligence in hospitals
Artificial intelligence (AI) will drive solutions to dramatically increase speed of retrieval, interpretation and accuracy of data, particularly image related data, such as radiology and X-ray images etc.
AI ‘…can identify at-risk populations and allow healthcare providers to tailor treatments accordingly,’ for example, reducing pathology tests which up to fourteen per cent are deemed unnecessary. (https://info.microsoft.com/rs/157-GQE-382/images/20624_HBR_Briefing%20Paper_Microsoft_Health_5.pdf)
Incredibly, advancements in AI technology is said to predict which patients have an eighty per cent changes of requiring hospitalisation within the following month. [ii] It’s even reported that the use of AI for such functions could save up to thirty per cent of clinicians’ time. (hyperlink https://www.i-scoop.eu/digital-transformation/healthcare-industry/#Mobility_from_home_and_remote_care_to_mobile_and_wireless_health)
Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare
We can expect to see more efficient and reliable healthcare offerings going forward, particularly with the rapid adoption and assimilation of the Internet of Things (IoT). Some of the huge international tech players are investing millions to ensure these areas are booming and meet the demands of the market. For example, IBM have invested USD$3 billion into their IoT department, which means we will see revolutionary devices and items hit the healthcare system to improve treatment, diagnoses and health and wellbeing.
Suffice to say, without suffice wireless systems in place none of these revolutionary advancements will stand up to their expectations.
[i] Saylor, Michael (2012). The Mobile Wave: How Mobile Intelligence Will Change Everything. Perseus Books/Vanguard Press. p. 153.
[ii] Embracing the Change Mandate: The 2020 Digital Transformation Agenda for Australia’s Health Care Sector, page 4