Introduction to Digital Health: How Technology is Transforming Healthcare

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: February 5, 2022

The healthcare industry is going through massive changes and much of this evolution is being fueled by both transformation and technology. When working with clients in the healthcare industry, especially post the worldwide pandemic, we've identified these common themes:

  1. The pandemic has fueled a lot of change in the healthcare industry.
  2. A long-term trend towards a focus on health and wellness.
  3. Technology is being used to drive, change, and to push improvements. Better care, and high decision-making for healthcare organizations.

Telehealth

One of the more recent developments in the healthcare space is telehealth. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the early 2020s, there was an immense shift towards more telehealth. This service provides patients with the option to receive care within a digital environment and reduces in-office traffic. This means providing technical methods like video and healthcare record capabilities and being able to engage with the healthcare provider via telehealth.

This digital transition was fueled by the pandemic, yes, but it wouldn't have been possible without the technology which enables these resources. Telehealth is one of the biggest advancements in the last five or 10 years within the healthcare space, and it's expected to continue to grow.

Electronic Healthcare Records

Another trend that's been in the making longer than the telehealth trend is the concept of electronic health records. Systems like Epic and Cerner provide EHR, (electronic health record capabilities) which allow hospitals and healthcare organizations to capture information about patients. Such as the type of care, prescriptions, providers, billing, insurance, etc.

Companies like Epic, Cerner, and other EHR providers offer technologies that enable automation focused on an EHR environment. Automating business processes related to patient care is a main trend within the healthcare space.

Artificial Intelligence

Another technology trend that is transforming healthcare, is the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. EHR and telehealth provided centralized and standard data for how healthcare providers capture information about patients and the care received.

With access to this data source, it is critical to analyze trends and source actionable insights that will enable better decisions around the healthcare experience.

The system looks for commonalities and cause-and-effect types of relationships in the data. This information provides healthcare providers visibility and insight into patients in ways that no one human might be able to do. It's a way to leverage this mass amount of big data that are being captured about patients in some of these systems.

All that data can now be used to make more effective recommendations and prescriptive solutions to their patients.

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Supply Chain Management

As costs in healthcare rise, so does the demand to regulate spending. For example, as drug prices increase or other materials that are required for hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare providers, there's a constant pressure to find a way to control and reduce costs. This is where technology such as supply chain management solutions can support healthcare providers.

This helps identify the most cost-effective suppliers and other types of procurement that are necessary to support the healthcare operations. supply chain management can support the overall procurement process, the quality of the vendors and help recognize backup vendors.

This optimization process is becoming more common in healthcare, and there are a large number of technologies that can help provide these services.

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Enterprise-Wide Technology

I've talked about some specific solutions so far as it relates to telehealth and EHR supply chain management. In addition to those technologies, there are also enterprise-wide technologies that are further enabling digital transformation within healthcare organizations.

Systems such as enterprise resource planning systems can work with supply chain management and do things like tie together financials, manage billing, provide a better customer experience, help with scheduling and workforce management, and human capital management.

One area that's of particular importance, which can be done with or without ERP systems, might be financials and billing. It is crucial to evaluate financial analytics, patient billing, insurance billing, and P&L reporting. All of this can be managed via accounting and financial systems that can automate healthcare organizations.

Another example is project management and asset management. If big hospital is expanding through building a new location or wing, project management systems can help manage the construction.

Asset management solutions are also in place to track, whether it be a building or the project plan. There are things like medical devices throughout the organization, and other machines that are used to provide healthcare. Other things like medical devices and other machines that might need support from an asset management perspective as well.

Resources

To learn more about digital transformation best practices within healthcare, I encourage you to download our annual 2021 Digital Transformation Report. This is an asset that includes industry benchmarks and lessons from our client experiences.

I hope you found this information useful, if you have any questions regarding digital healthcare or how technology is transforming the industry, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly. I am happy to be an informal sounding board as you move through your digital transformation journey.

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Author:
Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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