The Urgent Need for Digital Transformation in Healthcare

Original article was published by Anand Mahalingam on Artificial Intelligence on Medium


The Urgent Need for Digital Transformation in Healthcare

With the 2019 Global Population of 7.7 Billion expected to reach 8.5 Billion by 2030, meeting the healthcare requirements is not an easy job. (UN, 2019). Providing healthcare to the expanding geriatric demographic, general communicable diseases, growing chronic and non-communicable diseases is a key concern for governments and Health Systems. Further Lifestyle-related factors including smoking, poor diet, hypertension, obesity and lack of physical activity contribute to many of the Top 10 (Deloitte Insights ) global causes of death.

Why We Need New Business Model in Healthcare?

Surpassing all the above conditions the current Covid-19 pandemic is the biggest concern across the globe. So, there is an urgent need for relooking and re-imagining the way Healthcare Ecosystem is designed and managed. But with the demand and supply gap is widening, and with the limited resources and cost pressure for the service providers increasing, digitally transforming the healthcare services is not only the option but as a mandatory process for the healthcare ecosystem.

Digital Transformation in health care is an important and influential process that has already created a substantial impact and is going to make a further positive impact on healthcare and healthcare delivery system. But Digital transformation of health services is a complex and multifaceted issue, hence we need to have a clear understanding of digital transformation, its components, implementing methodologies and success criteria’s.

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital Transformation is the use of technology to radically improve performance or reach of Enterprises. (MIT Sloan Management Review). It is the use of digital technology to radically transform customer experiences, operational process and business models to create value at new frontiers of the business world in a strategic way. In other words, it is the novel use of digital technology to solve traditional and new arising problems.

Digital Transformation not only transfers all business processes to the digital format, but it basically changes in thinking about the company’s functioning, its processes, products, services, partners and consumers. This requires a new look at the entire company’s business environment and its business model. It provides a platform for innovation and growth. Digital Transformation helps the company to gain competitive advantage and strengthen collaboration and interaction between partners as well as provides great value to its customers.

Demystifying Digital Myths

Sometimes people confused with the terms “digitization”, “digitalization”, and “digital transformation“. Digitization deals with taking the existing business platform to digital, it is the process of encoding analog information into a digital format so that the computer system can store it and process it.

Digitalization is how digital technologies can be used to alter existing business processes. With the aim of cost savings and process improvements that may enhance user experiences. Wherein Digital Transformation is the most pervasive phase and describes a companywide change that leads to the development of new business models. It transforms the whole company and its way of doing business and goes beyond digitalization, it rearranges the processes to change the business logic of a firm using digital technologies. (Peter C Verhoef, 2019)

Digital Transformation in Healthcare

The Healthcare ecosystem is already started adopting digital technologies in all the domains of care delivery. Further, the rising demand, complexities in service delivery, providing quality care and patient’s expectations of services — make the healthcare service providers to think new ways to improve operational and cost efficiency and to provide an enhanced patient experience.

The advancement in computing capacity, Storage and communication has given the way for an easy and more affordable way for embracing Bigdata Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Deep Learning and Internet of Things (IoT) to the Healthcare Ecosystem. These enablers provide great help in reimagining the care delivery for the patient in a more efficient and cost-effective model. Starting from diagnosis, treatment and post-care these technologies plays a crucial role and helps the doctors and healthcare professionals through various decision support systems.

New Technologies as Enablers of Digital Transformation in Healthcare

Using Deep Learning computer vision application, the Healthcare Radiology department is transforming, such applications assist the radiologist and doctors in quick decision making and wider coverage with limited resources. Through Chest X-rays identifying Tuberculosis (TB) and Pneumonia provides equal accuracy in comparison with a radiologist and provide answers to the complex scenarios in a shorter timeline. There are proven commercial models already available for detecting breast cancer using AI’s Computer Vision applications.

Google Health can identify signs of diabetic retinopathy from an eye scan with more than 90% accuracy which is more or less equal to the human specialist level. Apart from this AI helps in a big way in monitoring and providing care for chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer. The way patient is walking (Gait Analysis), speak (Speech analysis), Facial expression analysis, identifying the bradykinesia through tremor analysis — the usage of AI’s Deep learning is already making strides in a new and innovative way of treating and engaging patients (MyHealthcare).

With the Covid-19 pandemic is stretching hospital clinical resources to the breaking points, big hopes are there for similar and new technologies in detecting and treating diseases through Artificial Intelligence supported models.

Predictive and Preventive Healthcare

Big Data Analytics is another big lever for Healthcare organizations to make progress in Digitally Transforming their businesses. The dramatic increase of raise of patient-level data in the last decade, given the foundation for Data Analytics. 30% of the entire world’s data volume is generated in the healthcare industry, in an average 80 megabytes of imaging and electronic health record is generated for a single patient. The volume of data coupled with EMR/EHR provides very meaningful insights for the care providers in predicting and preventing major disease and understand the pattern and correlation with geography, age, gender and treatment methods.

As patients wanted to be part of care delivery the Voice recognition, Speech to text and wearable devices provides big hope in communicating and continuous monitoring of diseases in preventive care.

Roadmap for Healthcare Digital Transformation

These technologies have given the opportunity for rethinking new business models for the healthcare industry. However, as per recent Mckinsey Study the need for a — change of culture to be the biggest hurdle in the industry’s digital transformation. Similarly, the other barriers to digital transformation highlighted by the industry leaders were culture and mind-set, organizational structure and governance. But the landscape is changing now, the healthcare leaders, strategist and medical professionals already started embracing the technology, and rethinking business models — keeping efficiency, patient care and experience as the ultimate objective.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any organisation.

(This article was initially published in Linkedin by the Author )