Digital Transformation In Healthcare:
How Technology Is Changing The Industry
What does digital transformation mean? Many companies have departments called "digital transformation units." The term itself is widely used. Transformation is not something subtle, not even something evolutionary. It is about redefining who you are and what you do. And it's all about technology. First, it is a driver of business. For the purposes of this article, we're talking about the healthcare business. Second, it is relevant to every key functional area of your company - from human resources to operations to sales to production. Lastly, it can dramatically improve your processes, your performance, and even the value of your assets.
A 2017 study by MIT stated that companies that have undertaken digital transformation are 26% more profitable that those that haven't. Their asset value, their company valuation, is 12% higher. Embracing digital transformation simply makes good business sense. From a growth point of view, when you take technology/innovation/analytics/design and fuse that with strategy and operations, you're going to propel growth across the whole operation.
Companies that successfully undergo digital transformation are customer-centric—or, in the case of healthcare, patient-centric. They don't just say these words. Their whole being is built around what happens with customers, with patients—and it's crucially important that they're your focus as well.
Digital transformation of health insurance services: a case study
Technologies are embraced before they are mature, before there's lots of expertise and there's lots of use cases. If you are a digital transformation pioneer, you are not waiting for two hundred other companies to prove it is a good idea. You're one of the companies who is the "prover".
Here's one of success stories of digital transformation in healthcare, related to a $14 billion US hospital system we've been engaged with for eight solid years. The key here is to look at both a level of commitment and steady progress over time—and to see how technology is changing healthcare.
2011: PhoneGap-based cross-platform apps for accessing health records
The story started back in 2011. It sounds so mundane today, but cross-platform applications were just coming into their own back then. They had not been highly tested, no use cases to draw from, and there was lots of trial and error for businesses that adopted them. We built one of the first cross-platform apps based on PhoneGap, which was also coming into its own at that time. It enabled access to health records on mobile devices, so that people would start taking ownership of their health with HIPAA-compliant tools at hand.
2012: Using photos for quick diagnoses
In another case that dates back to 2012, we used the native phone features of iOS and Android smartphones to take photos of wounds and then do diagrams over these photos right on smartphones. This created mathematical formulas that would enable a doctor who is receiving these images to actually know the depth and size of these wounds. Thus, quick diagnoses could be made and immediately given to patients. What was the benefit? A, good care. B, less visits to hospital. Both are important benefits to patients.
2013-2014: Video chats for doctors and patients
Throughout the evolution of these products, our task was to bring more efficiency into these applications. We were basically taking iOS and Android platforms, either doing custom builds around them or creating new solutions from scratch. In 2014, we created our first doctor-patient video chats. These days we know telemedicine well, it's everyday stuff; but back in 2014 it was sort of breakthrough and experimental.
2015-2017: Integration of Touch ID and app development for wearables
In 2015, fingerprint scanners were introduced, so we built applications that allowed people to log into their patient records using fingerprints. It was a pretty simple concept: if you can't remember your user ID or your password, it's an easy way to gain access. The same iOS SDK that powered the fingerprint recognition also powered photo recognition, which could be used as well. Since 2016, patients are able to access their records on the Apple Watch. Many people started to use wearables, which leads us to 2017, with things like Fitbit and Jawbone UP being connected - and this promoted the overall wellbeing and disease intervention for patients.
Now: Bringing Augmented Reality to healthcare
The tech buzzwords of today include the Internet of Things, augmented reality, blockchain, data science, and machine learning. They are all in relatively early stages of maturation. However, huge companies are addressing these issues as we speak, so that's where we are today. The 2017-2018 period has brought us a number of successes in augmented reality development. AR is going to be a big deal in healthcare, surgery, cardiology, medical education and other spheres, with new devices and greater capabilities emerging on the market.
Having these brief cases at hand, you can start to define how the notion of digital transformation makes sense for your particular business. You can see how technology will pay off from a business point of view. You can redefine who you are, create new businesses or complementary services, alter or add business models. The big benefit from a strategic viewpoint is that technology makes you customer-centric and helps you embrace the right digital strategy.
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