Digital transformation has become a buzzword across nearly all industries, but what does it mean for your healthcare organization? Here’s what you need to know about the benefits and challenges of embarking on a digital transformation journey, plus some digital tools we expect to see become more common within healthcare spaces.

What Is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation refers to the process of adopting digital technologies across your organization to optimize processes and improve services. As an ongoing endeavor, rather than a one-and-done project, digital transformation involves continually seeking out ways to improve end-user experiences through digital tools.

Within the healthcare world, just about everyone, from patients to payers, benefits from digital transformation efforts. In particular, behavioral health and justice agencies see digital transformation’s enormous value because they tend to face many of the challenges that digital tools help resolve, such as healthcare access, patient engagement, and equity issues.

Benefits of Digital Transformation

Behavioral health and justice facilities aren’t the only health systems that can benefit from digital transformation. Any organization can experience the following:

Streamlined Workflows

Digital tools eliminate the need for traditional paperwork, reducing labor needs while simplifying business processes.

Lower Costs

Digitizing and automating repetitive tasks also lowers operational costs and allows organizations to deliver more cost-effective health services.

Better Patient-Provider Communication

Digital healthcare solutions open up numerous pathways, from email to video chatting, through which patients and providers can easily connect.

More Personalized Care

Digitalization gives providers more time to focus on care delivery and gives patients more options for services that best fit their needs.

Top Digital Transformation Challenges

Organizations ready to reap the benefits of digital transformation also need to be aware of the following challenges.

Data Security

In such a highly-regulated industry, data security is a top digital transformation concern. A single security breach interrupts patient care and can cause serious reputational and monetary losses.

Skills Gaps

Digital transformation involves organization-wide use of new technologies, and staff members and patients will need to adapt and learn how to use these new tools.

Upfront Costs

Implementing digital technologies leads to long-term cost savings and higher ROI, but the initial costs can be intimating. As a result, many organizations end up delaying their digitalization plans.

Digital Transformation Efforts Today

Many digital transformation solutions are already common throughout the healthcare industry, including:

Automation

From drug manufacturing facilities to the doctor’s office, automation technology is boosting efficiency across every healthcare sector. As a result, healthcare providers, for example, can spend more time communicating with patients and less time on paperwork, ultimately reducing human error and improving patient experiences.

Telemedicine & Virtual Visits

One of the biggest changes in healthcare is the growing number of virtual visits. Using various digital tools, patients can schedule appointments, receive prescriptions, and connect with their healthcare providers from the comfort of their homes.

Patient Portals

Online patient platforms are another major example of how digital technology makes care more convenient and patient-centered. With the goal of making healthcare information more readily available and reduce the burden on staff members, 82% of healthcare organizations leverage portals to engage their patients.

What Is New in 2023: The Future of Digital Transformation in Healthcare

As we head into the new year, here are some of the digital transformation tools we’re likely to see more frequently.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI has already made headlines within the healthcare industry, but it’s still in its early adoption stages. In 2023 and beyond, AI will likely play an increasingly important role in providing personalized, high-quality care. Thanks to its ability to analyze and find patterns in massive amounts of data, AI technology could transform everything from treatment research to the accuracy of diagnoses.

Internet of Things (IoT)

While IoT already has different applications in healthcare, such as wearable devices, the growth of this sector is expected to rise to nearly $180 billion in value by 2026. Through the use of connected devices, doctors can more easily collect critical information, healthcare facilities can shift more towards preventative care, and patients can receive personalized attention.

Blockchain

Though often thought of as a confusing cryptocurrency concept, blockchain technology has promising applications in healthcare. A type of “ledger” or digital transaction database, blockchain allows for safe information sharing without any third-party involvement and could make electronic health record (EHR) management, a long-standing problem in healthcare, more efficient, secure, and cost-effective.

Simplify Your Digital Strategy With iTether

Digital transformation can feel intimidating, but we’re here to simplify it with our fully integrated telehealth platform. Built as a framework, iTether enables you to quickly and easily create customized digital care pathways, improve your healthcare workflows, and make data-driven decisions. Contact us today to get started.