As digital advancements in the healthcare sector continue to rise, healthcare providers may find it difficult to keep up. Deciding which technological advancements to adopt and which solutions to implement is challenging. Embracing digital transformation requires flexibility, as businesses need to let go of outdated processes and trust their technology investments to yield results.
The adoption of digital solutions is also increasing, as 15 per cent1 of healthcare and pharmaceutical companies have already gone digital. On-demand healthcare is on the rise. The increasing use of wearable medical devices and big data has made virtual treatment an essential part of modern-day healthcare.
As a result, healthcare businesses need to ride the digital transformation wave to provide better patient experiences and improve operational performance. Let’s delve into how healthcare providers, including clinicians, dentists, and practitioners, can leverage digital transformation.
Why is digital transformation important for healthcare businesses?
As the healthcare sector takes a patient-centric approach, healthcare providers need to adopt technology-based solutions to improve the patient experience. Let’s look at some reasons why providers should consider going digital.
- Paper-based prescriptions pose a risk of misinterpretation, damage, and loss, leading to inaccurate treatments and reputation loss
- Manual appointment scheduling can be inefficient and time-consuming, leading to lost staff productivity and unfavourable patient experience
- Conventional healthcare business models include minimal direct communication between doctors and patients. This can lead to a lack of proper treatment in emergency conditions
- Manual operations can affect the staff’s productivity. The staff is likely to spend more time on administrative tasks like scheduling appointments, maintaining and managing patient records, etc
- Using paper-based records to store patient data has many drawbacks. The staff requires more time to fetch patient records, leading to inadequate information and time management
- Relying on manual operations and paper-based records can affect treatment accuracy and clinical decision-making
- Traditional healthcare models are less flexible and don’t provide rapid access to information
- The lack of real-time patient monitoring and management is a major challenge in the conventional healthcare system.
Digital transformation can resolve all these challenges, plus many more. It eliminates paper-based processes and replaces them with digital procedures – e-prescriptions in place of physical prescriptions and Electronic Health Records (EHRs) in place of paper-based patient records. It automates recurring, administrative tasks such as appointment scheduling and gathering and retrieving patient information, which speeds up the treatment process and makes it more accurate.
Many healthcare providers struggle when it comes to retaining patients. Some reasons why patients don’t return could be poor treatment experience, multiple options to choose from, etc. Becoming digitally competent can help healthcare businesses become more efficient, provide a better patient experience, and increase patient retention and loyalty.
Using digital transformation to improve revenue in healthcare
In the end, it’s all about the bottom line. Clinicians and hospital owners need to take the steps required to drive revenue and business growth. Here’s where technology comes to the rescue. Let’s look at how digital transformation can help healthcare providers increase revenue and profitability.
Expanding online with telemedicine and appointment management
The global telemedicine market was valued at US$79.79 billion2 in 2020 and is projected to grow at a staggering CAGR of 25.8 per cent during 2021-2027. The coronavirus outbreak has been the biggest catalyst in the growth of the telemedicine sector. Data from CDC3 shows that the number of telehealth visits increased by 50 per cent in the first quarter of 2020.
These numbers indicate that telemedicine is the new big thing in the healthcare sector, and providers need to adapt accordingly. Offering telemedicine services and facilities can help healthcare providers build a digital presence, attend more customers, and increase revenue. From the patients’ point of view, they can connect with doctors and receive quality medical assistance remotely.
Another benefit of digital transformation for healthcare providers is online appointment management. A survey conducted by PatientPop4 showed that 42 per cent of patients would like to have an online appointment scheduling feature on a healthcare website.
Offering online appointment scheduling is an essential aspect of digital transformation in healthcare. It can help both the healthcare provider and patients. From a business point of view, the staff will need to spend less time manually booking and managing appointments. This will reduce labour costs and increase productivity.
From the patients’ point of view, they’ll be able to book an appointment anytime and from anywhere. They won’t need to stand in long queues to get an appointment. This will improve patient experience and boost retention5 and profitability.
1. Seamless lead data capturing with QR codes
Healthcare providers may struggle when it comes to delivering omnichannel experiences to their patients. Many of them use outside-of-house (OOH) advertising techniques to increase awareness, communicate benefits, and increase foot traffic to their practice. However, offline-only advertisements aren’t good at inspiring actions. When people come across the ads, they’re less likely to take immediate action. Healthcare businesses can overcome this hurdle by creating a sense of urgency by including QR codes on their advertising materials.
Dynamic QR codes can be linked to an appointment booking page, website, social media, email, and other online destinations. Providers can use a good QR code generator6 to put up a custom QR code on the advertisement and link it to the appointment page. People can scan the code and book an appointment online instead of calling reception or waiting in the queue. In addition to seamless appointment booking, healthcare businesses can use QR codes to connect with their consumers on their social media or website.
QR codes also find a place on landing pages, emails, and other forms of content. A lot of people check their email on desktop or laptop but manage other tasks like booking hospital appointments, spa appointments, etc., using a mobile phone. By including QR codes on landing pages and emails, healthcare providers can bridge the gap between desktop and mobile devices. This leads to improved patient experience.
2. Online conferencing tools for virtual patient monitoring
As telemedicine continues to boom, video conferencing tools have become an essential addition to every healthcare provider’s digital toolkit. Doctors can connect with patients online through video conferencing solutions like Zoom and Meet. The live virtual meeting allows doctors and patients to communicate face-to-face with each other in real-time without being physically present at a common location.
This is helpful for patients who live in rural areas with a lack of high-end healthcare facilities. Instead of travelling to urban areas, patients can get treatment remotely with online conferencing tools.
Improving operational efficiency and revenue cycle management
Revenue cycle management (RCM) is the process of identifying, collecting, and monitoring a healthcare practice’s revenue. Healthcare businesses could face difficulties in maintaining financial viability, which can affect the quality of care provided to the patients.
Lack of operational efficiency is a key cause of an inefficient RCM process. Let’s look at how digital transformation can help healthcare providers optimise RCM and increase productivity.
1. AI-based workload predictions
Managing workload is essential for maintaining high levels of workload productivity. However, in a dynamic environment, monitoring the workload of each staff member can be challenging. Modern-day hospital management systems come with AI-based workload management capabilities that automate the workload management process. It utilises workload prediction models to accurately measure and manage the workload of doctors and other staff members.
2. Live inpatient revenue spend management
Inpatient revenue is a major source of income for many hospitals and healthcare facilities. However, inpatient management can come with some initial expenses associated with bed/room charges, rehabilitation services, medications, and more.
In the absence of proper tools, managing live inpatient revenue spend can be challenging. This can lead to uncontrolled costs and impact profitability in the long run. Implementing digital solutions can help monitor inpatient expenses in real-time, reduce costs, and increase revenue.
3. Enhanced documentation and insurance management
Healthcare providers deal with myriad documents associated with patient records, treatment history, prescriptions, and more. Manually managing and storing documents in paper form can hurt healthcare operations in many ways. Paper documents are prone to damage, theft, loss, misinterpretation, and other problems.
Digital hospital management solutions can enhance the documentation process. It allows the receptionists and attendants to create patient profiles and store patient information online. Cloud accessibility enables doctors to access this information online, which eliminates the need for paper documents.
- Improvement in the insurance management process is another benefit of digital transformation.
- The traditional insurance management process looks something like this:
- The patient (or caregiver) claims reimbursements
- The hospital verifies the identity and eligibility of the insured
- The hospital will submit the pre-authorisation form to the insurance provider
- The insurance provider will verify the eligibility and disburse the insurance
This process is tedious and time-consuming for all the parties involved – patient, healthcare provider, and insurance provider. A digital solution resolves this hurdle by simplifying the insurance process.
4. Omnichannel communication
Interactive communication between healthcare providers and patients is crucial. These communications can be by online electronic forms like voice calls or by video conferences. As the demand for telemedicine continues to increase, healthcare providers are prioritising patient outcomes and satisfaction.
Omnichannel communication can help healthcare providers achieve these goals. A unidirectional, non-interactive communication channel and adversely impact patient engagement. On the other hand, an interactive, bi-directional channel can increase engagement and patient retention. Healthcare providers that adopt digital transformation can effortlessly implement omnichannel communication to improve patient education7 and provide a better experience.
Even though tech advancements in healthcare have come a long way, the healthcare field is only taking the first steps towards digital transformation. But keeping the changing patient expectations in mind, healthcare providers need to ride the digital transformation wave to remain competitive.