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Healthcare's Digital Revolution: Why Technology Alone Isn't Enough

Siel Ju
June 11, 2024
June 11, 2024

We waste a lot of money in healthcare. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a whopping $760 billion to $935 billion — or 25% of all healthcare dollars — go to waste every year, with the biggest source of waste being administrative complexities like billing and coding.

Unfortunately, healthcare has been slow to embrace the kind of technologies that can cut down on tedious tasks and increase efficiency. Meanwhile, industries like retail are already leveraging data and AI to optimize everything from inventory management to customer personalization. In fact, a McKinsey study found that AI solutions already exist to potentially slash in half the time spent on store tasks in some retail sectors.

What’s holding us back in healthcare? The problem isn't a lack of innovative technology, but rather, a fixed mindset. To harness the power of tech-forward tools, healthcare systems need to shift their thinking from reactive to proactive, from siloed to collaborative, from data-rich to data-driven — and embrace a new approach to care delivery.

The Healthcare Lag

It’s not always easy for the healthcare industry to try new technologies. Strict regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), meant to ensure the security of sensitive health data, require a lot of time and resources to uphold. This is a heavy challenge that many other industries don't face. 

Plus, with human lives on the line, healthcare systems have to be cautious. New technologies like electronic health records, telemedicine platforms, or remote patient monitoring devices often go through a lengthy vetting process before they're widely adopted. 

On top of that, healthcare data is notoriously complex and messy, requiring specialized tools and expertise to interpret. Combine these challenges with limited budgets and competing priorities, and it's not surprising that tech adoption in healthcare has lagged behind other industries.

Shifting the Mindset 

That said, the healthcare industry has proven that, under pressure, it can innovate quickly. Take the COVID-19 pandemic era, for example. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine represented a tiny fraction of healthcare visits. But when the pandemic began, providers quickly embraced telemedicine and virtual care options, dramatically expanding access to care. At its peak, telemedicine usage exploded, accounting for over 30% of all healthcare visits. This rapid transformation shows our industry can adapt and find new solutions when faced with urgent needs.

That adaptability is crucial for the future of digital health. Rather than fearing that technology will diminish the quality of care or replace healthcare professionals, we need to recognize that digital solutions can enhance the care we provide. They can streamline workflows, provide invaluable insights, and ultimately empower clinicians and other healthcare providers to focus on what they do best: building relationships with patients and delivering compassionate, personalized care.

Getting Tech-Savvy

Data-driven decision-making is a crucial first step towards a more efficient and effective healthcare system. By leveraging the power of data analytics and real-time insights from technology, healthcare providers can make more informed, evidence-based decisions that directly improve patient outcomes and optimize operations for a smarter, more responsive healthcare ecosystem.

Collaboration is another crucial element. By working hand-in-hand with technology partners, healthcare organizations can co-create solutions tailored to their unique needs and challenges that are also seamlessly integrated into existing workflows. Whether it's customizing a remote patient monitoring (RPM) program, implementing a telemedicine platform, or adopting AI-powered diagnostic tools, collaboration ensures that technology is used to its fullest potential.

Healthcare is on the brink of a digital revolution, and forward-thinking leaders have the opportunity to be at the forefront. By fostering a mindset that welcomes emerging technologies, we can help shape the future of healthcare to deliver cutting-edge care that meets the evolving needs of our patients. Let's embrace this revolution and build a healthcare system that truly thrives on innovation. 

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