The digitalization of healthcare has gained momentum in the recent decade, with the rise of innovations like the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), telehealth and AI-based medical tools. It is often assumed to represent positive progress, but what are the benefits of a well-deployed digital infrastructure?
Going truly digital, not just digitising existing processes, may eliminate repetitive tasks that consume time and are cumbersome to comply with. The difference between digitisation (e.g., scanning a document so that object is now digital) and digitalisation (the use of digital technologies to change a process) is important here: the latter, whilst dependent on the former, holds the real potential when it comes to easing the administrative burden in the healthcare sector.
Better patient experience
Having an effective digital infrastructure in healthcare can give a healthcare professional access to disparate health data and thus provide a fuller picture of a patient’s health.
As a result, the likelihood of duplicate tests, adverse events, uninformed care decisions and inappropriate follow-ups are avoided or reduced, ultimately improving patient experience – and saving clinicians’ time.
Care coordination involves multiple stakeholders: from patients and their caregivers to a range of health workers, management, as well as logistics assistants. As a business process, care coordination is dynamic and so it requires data flow across platforms and across service providers in real time. Therefore, a coherent digital infrastructure can facilitate care coordination, particularly when a variety of stakeholders from different services are involved.
Data management does not begin with data, it begins with identifying value. Many researchers believe (though this belief is not unanimous) that one of the key considerations in the shift towards value-based healthcare is the incorporation of non-traditional health data, such as an individual’s social determinants of health data (e.g., food security status, housing stability and access to reliable transportation) into patient records. This data could be incorporated into health systems in order to proactively identify a health risk to an individual or a lifestyle risk to a given target group as a part of total population.
An effective digital infrastructure can also enable the analysis of data that covers groups and entire populations, which is an important part of health systems management. Understanding population data improves risk analysis and in turn leads to more cost-effective care.