Public healthcare is undergoing a sea change across the globe as governments push to improve access and manage costs. Evolving market trends are exerting pressure on public healthcare delivery models to increase patient engagement and focus on treatment outcomes. Digital technologies are helping governments to address these challenges.
New technologies are shaping the way healthcare is provided across the ecosystem. Healthcare digitalization, ranging from the use of electronic health records, home monitoring of patients, electronic medical devices, and the application of data technologies like AI and Machine Learning (ML), is having a transformative impact on many aspects of public health care systems.
The ‘digital transformation of healthcare’ is having a substantial impact on current health care systems and is expected to have a further fundamental impact on public health care delivery in the future. The current COVID-19 crisis and its impact will further accelerate the digitalization process. According to a report by Global Market Insights, the digital health market size, estimated at over $106 billion in 2019 will grow at 28.5% CAGR through 2026. The report further adds that a growing number of smartphone users, rapidly growing healthcare IT infrastructure and increasing awareness on fitness and well-being among the population across the globe are the key drivers to market growth. Here are a few ways digital technology is impacting public healthcare.
- Paperless Healthcare Delivery: One of the low-lying fruits of digital transformation in public health is shifting to a paperless process. Making the shift to a paperless process will not only allow public healthcare organizations to unload a lot of recurring data entry tasks but will also set the foundation for leveraging advanced data analytics. Organizations would be able to immediately access and pull reports, get insight into areas for improvement in real-time, make swift changes and ultimately, drive better treatment outcomes. In the traditional paper-based process, it would take a lot of time and manpower to uncover these insights.
- Providing Healthcare to Remote Areas: Providing access to quality healthcare in remote areas is still a challenge for governments in most of the countries. People living in rural and remote areas continue to have higher mortality rates, higher disease levels and limited access to health services compared to people living in urban areas. Digital technologies like Electronic Medical Records (EMR), telehealth technologies, Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) and virtual collaboration tools can be used to extend the reach of public healthcare services to rural and remote locations.
- Predictive and Preventive Care: Digital preventive healthcare is the use of digital technologies to prevent disease occurrence, eradication, and minimizing its negative impact to avoid deaths. Public healthcare organizations have to cover a vast population distributed over vast swathes of land. Building health infrastructure to cover these areas would require massive budgets. Governments can leverage digital health technologies to predict illnesses and diseases that can become major problems in the near future. Data can be used to assess risk factors contributing to certain pandemic diseases in the regions and prepare and provide adequate care strategy to reduce their spread and impact. This will help governments save a lot of money on treatments and also improve public well-being.
- Home Care: The emergence of disease management technologies is causing a fundamental shift in the way care is to be provided. The traditional way of a patient going to a health facility to get a consultation and getting admitted for treatment will be replaced by a new model of care at home. Today, low-cost digital diagnostic devices are available that can record vital signs like temperature, heart rate, oxygen saturation, and blood pressure accurately and then relay it to care providers in real-time. Care providers can then advise the patients on medications and treatment plans. This becomes especially effective in addressing pandemics like COVID-19 where home-based disease management is inexpensive than the present model of hospital admissions and clinic visits.
Digital technologies have opened up a wealth of possibilities for reshaping e-governance and public health management. Governments can leverage these technologies to drive the next wave of healthcare delivery and make public healthcare accessible to all. The best way to start the process of digitalization of healthcare for any organization is to start small, assess, tweak and then go big. Governments can start by taking any one healthcare service in a small region, digitalize it, assess its impact, improve it based on assessment and then launch it across the country.
However, digital transformation of healthcare cannot happen in bits and pieces. Therefore, governments should prepare a detailed digital strategy to gain optimal benefits and maximize RoI. Gemini Consulting & Services has experience in working with governments and public institutions to build modern, IT-enabled systems and processes to deliver services. Click here to know more on our e-governance services.