Digital transformation in healthcare

Now that they’ve begun to emerge from the crisis mode of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare leaders are turning their attention to the potential (and inevitability) of digital transformation.

In a 2022 survey, 97% of healthcare executives believed technological advancements were more reliable for informing their organization's long-term strategy than political, social, or economic trends.

Digital transformation enables you to move your content to the cloud

Digital transformation is the process of overhauling and digitizing how your organization works, leaning into cloud-native technology solutions that enable faster innovation and more secure data use. For example, you might switch to keeping electronic health records in a cloud storage system rather than storing paper patient records in a filing cabinet. Secure, cloud-based tech is a fundamental component of all the digital health technologies organizations need for transformation.

Understanding the challenges your organization faces every day helps you set digital transformation goals that will generate more revenue and optimize patient care.

Challenges the healthcare industry faces

Legacy healthcare technology systems worked well in the past, but since the pandemic forced businesses to move online, our old methods don't cut it anymore. If your organization still relies on old-fashioned infrastructure, you might be familiar with these challenges. 

Paper-based systems and efficiencies

Although paper charting has been the norm in healthcare for centuries, it's an inefficient and insecure system. Paper documents are easy to lose track of, and even the most carefully organized filing cabinet is significantly less transparent than a comparable digital system. Paper is also vulnerable to natural disasters — without a backup, you could lose your treatment documentation, for instance. 

Cloud content management systems eliminate these problems by consolidating files into one secure location. Because your data exists in the cloud, you free up local drives for other applications. Automatic backups and redundancy protect your content against accidental loss. 

Fragmented data

Many healthcare organizations rely on paper-based documentation systems or legacy digital infrastructure to manage their files, which are susceptible to data quality issues:

  • Data silos: Storing data in filing cabinets or local drives limits visibility and isolates data from the rest of the organization, which can cause costly data quality issues
  • Inconsistencies: When different areas of your organization lack access to data from others, you end up with inaccurate or missing data
  • Redundant data: The lack of a single, unified storage system forces everyone in your organization to store data in different databases, which can lead to duplicate copies taking up space on your drives
  • Limited collaboration: Without easy access to data from other parts of your organization, effective collaboration is complicated to impossible

Cloud storage systems consolidate your data to create a single source of truth for your whole organization, reducing the risk of data quality issues. 

Regulatory and privacy concerns

Healthcare organizations must adhere to many strict regulatory guidelines, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. Noncompliance can result in fines or disqualification from practicing medicine.

Moving to digital systems helps healthcare organizations meet compliance requirements by making organization and security more manageable. Many digital tools come with security measures built in, so you don't have to spend more time and resources searching for software.

Limited adoption of digital technologies

Choose cloud-based software with integration capabilities so you can adopt new technology as your organization evolves

Despite the promises of digital transformation, few healthcare organizations have adopted digital technologies. Of those who have, some experience significant setbacks due to the lack of integration between systems. 

For example, you may use a life-saving application that only runs on an outdated operating system, which holds your entire organization back from updating. The problem compounds when a hacker exploits a well-known vulnerability in your outdated operating system.

Cloud-based software integrates with dozens or even hundreds of applications to provide a unified system, making it easy to adopt new technology as your organization evolves. Because cloud-based tools run through the internet, you get new updates as soon as they roll out.

Benefits of digital transformation for healthcare organizations

Digital transformation in healthcare is more than incorporating digital improvements into direct patient care. It needs to reach every aspect of your healthcare business, from the hospital floor to logistics and human resources.

Increasing healthcare uses of digital technologies help the industry provide care in innovative, exciting ways. Here are some of the biggest benefits of digital health technologies.

Increased efficiency and productivity

The hours healthcare professionals spend on repetitive manual tasks like scheduling appointments, sending appointment reminders, and updating patient records take time away from higher-priority tasks. Workflow automation tools free up your people by automating repetitive tasks in processes like patient onboarding and referrals. Automation also reduces the chances of human error in data entry tasks like patient charting, which helps prevent financial losses later on.

Plus, cloud collaboration tools make teamwork a breeze — even across long distances. Version control enables different providers to update patient records in the centralized database in real time so clinicians and patients can access and edit information from anywhere. 

Improved patient outcomes

Digital transformation enables providers to offer better patient access and care

Lack of access is the biggest barrier to providing quality care to all populations. Many people in underserved areas don't have a reliable way to get to their appointments, which prevents them from getting the care they need. That's why telemedicine is such a big win for the industry.

Videoconferencing tools enable patients to check in with their providers from their own homes, improving their attendance rate and the quality of care they receive. 

Information accessibility is another major issue — when a provider refers a patient internally or externally, they can't easily share the patient's information if it's stored on legacy infrastructure. A centralized cloud database enables practitioners to share records at the click of a button so they can provide better patient care. Plus, providing simplified access to patient records empowers the patient to get a second opinion if they want.

Better decision-making and insights

Increased visibility into your organization's data improves insights, enabling you to make better decisions. Decision-support algorithms such as decision intelligence (DI) technology help provide justification for your decisions so you know you're making the right choices.

Take staffing, for example. The right combination of people makes a difference in the quality of care patients receive. DI software accesses your cloud database and analyzes employee data to offer scheduling suggestions that would provide the most effective care to your patients. 

Cost savings

While direct patient care is extremely important, hospitals and other healthcare providers need to invest in supply chain agility and resilience to successfully navigate emergencies like COVID-19. For one thing, telehealth technology allows providers to continue care even if their patients catch infectious diseases, which is essential for dealing with serious ongoing health conditions.

Digital supply chain solutions can reduce process costs by as much as 50% by automating:

  • Data collection
  • Ordering
  • Reconciliation
  • Payment

Legacy infrastructure also takes up valuable floor space and uses more energy than web-based systems. Moving your files and processes to the cloud saves you money on hardware and overhead costs, which can go toward improving other areas of your operation.

Examples of digital transformation in healthcare

Many organizations have already shifted their usual processes to digital tools and are reaping the benefits. Here are some ways healthcare professionals use cloud tech to transform how they provide care.

Electronic health records(EHRs)

Paper-based patient charting is a costly and inefficient system. Switching to electronic medical records allows you to update patient information in real time so the changes are available instantly to authorized users. 

Additionally, cloud-based EHR software tools adhere to HIPAA security rules so you can simplify compliance management and protect against cybercriminals. Limit who has access to specific content using access control and permission governance functionalities, which help prevent critical information from falling into the wrong hands.

Telemedicine and remote patient monitoring

After the initial outbreak of the pandemic, healthcare providers couldn't see many patients in person like they traditionally had. Telemedicine appointments let providers continue care safely and conveniently, and the number of remote visits skyrocketed as a result. Now that telemedicine has been normalized, many providers continue to offer it post-pandemic.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is also making a huge impact on outpatient treatment and supply chain management. Ingestible sensors, for example, gather data about patients' digestive systems and other functions in a less invasive way than traditional measures.

Self-service patient portals are yet another example of how digital transformation improves access to care. Patients can schedule appointments, view test results, and directly communicate with providers without going through any additional hoops.These are just three examples, but telemedicine and remote patient monitoring hold incredible potential for patients and providers.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning

Many organizations are exploring how artificial intelligence and machine learning tools help providers offer the most value across a range of clinical applications, including finding more ways to provide personalized treatment. These tools analyze patient data and available resources to supplement a practitioner's clinical knowledge, which helps providers determine how to offer the most effective care for each patient. 

Wearable devices

Although healthcare providers have been using wearable technology as part of patient care for some time now, this treatment method has been evolving in new ways thanks to technological advancements. Smartwatches, for example, could be a promising tool in disease detection and chronic care management — a development that would have been impossible just a decade ago. 

Cloud content management

Take control of the entire content lifecycle with cloud content management

An overhaul of your organization is essential for successful digital transformation, and that goes for how you manage your content. Cloud content management software enables you to manage the entire content lifecycle from creation to archival. Built-in security and compliance functionalities give you control over your content so you can adhere to industry standards such as HIPAA and the HITECH Act.

Tips for implementing digital transformation in healthcare organizations

Now for the sobering news: most digital transformation initiatives — anywhere from 70% to 87.5% — fail. Usually, this failure rate results from an inability to adapt due to poor planning, but there are other reasons a company might have trouble achieving its long-term tech goals.

Follow these tips to improve your organization's chances of success.

Develop a clear strategy and vision

Digital transformation is often a more intensive process than organizations realize. One of the most common mistakes organizations make is purchasing new tech and allowing it to dictate the rest of the digital transformation journey. Take the time to define your goals and plan your overall strategy to position your organization for success.

Instead of waiting to measure initiative ROI after completion, create a transformation roadmap with frequent checkpoints to measure your progress and demonstrate value throughout your journey. This step keeps stakeholders informed and engaged, increasing your chances of success. Tracking progress milestones makes it easier to determine whether you're on the right track.

Engage stakeholders and address resistance to change

It's much harder to make any organizational change without getting support from executives and key stakeholders — in a recent Deloitte survey, 80% of respondents said leadership was a key accelerator of digital transformation. 

Reach out to stakeholders and demonstrate your initiative's value early on to gain support, but you also need to keep them engaged for the project to work. Regularly update them on project progress, using their preferred communication channels throughout the process, and take any feedback offered into consideration.

Invest in data security and privacy

With all the personal health information (PHI) healthcare organizations collect, the industry is one of the top targets for cybercriminals worldwide. Protecting your organization against data breaches helps prevent financial losses and keep your patients safe.

Make data security a priority from the beginning when you're planning a digital transformation. Research what your organization needs to comply with important cybersecurity regulations, and consult with cloud providers to see what security measures they provide. 

Train and upskill staff

Digital transformation initiatives are difficult to pull off if your people don't know how to effectively use the tools you implement. Reskilling and upskilling your existing staff is critical for getting the most out of your investments.

Many digital tools come with built-in training modules you can use to get started. It's also important to provide different options when planning your training program to accommodate your employees' unique learning styles. Offer a combination of live video training sessions, in-person workshops, and written guides that employees can access through a self-service portal. 

The future of digital transformation in the healthcare industry

Moving forward, we're likely to see a massive increase in organizations investing in digital health technologies. Implement these programs at the right time to help your organization survive if another public health emergency were to occur.

For instance, telemedicine and home care services will grow over the coming years. Digitization prepares your organization to provide scalable, high-quality remote care through video appointments, remote patient monitoring, and self-service functionalities.

Ultimately, the most important thing healthcare organizations can do is invest in initiatives that enable greater agility and adaptability moving forward. Look for tech solutions that provide flexibility without exposing your organization to risks like noncompliance and cybercrime.

Discover the power of the Content Cloud

With a single secure platform for all your content, Box enables you to manage the entire content lifecycle: file creation, co-editing, sharing, e-signature, classification, retention, and so much more. We make it easy for you to collaborate on content with anyone, both inside and outside your organization. Frictionless, enterprise-grade security and compliance are built into our DNA, so you get total peace of mind that your content is protected. And with 1,500+ seamless integrations — as well as a range of native capabilities, like Box Sign — the Content Cloud provides a single content layer that ensures your teams can work the way they want.

The Content Cloud is a game changer for the entire organization, streamlining workflows and boosting productivity across every team. Contact us today, and explore what you can do with Box.

Embrace digital transformation in healthcare with the Content Cloud

**While we maintain our steadfast commitment to offering products and services with best-in-class privacy, security, and compliance, the information provided in this blogpost is not intended to constitute legal advice. We strongly encourage prospective and current customers to perform their own due diligence when assessing compliance with applicable laws.