Digital health is not a novel or revolutionary concept. For example, medical pictures and telemedicine have been used for over a century, and prototype wearable gadgets have been employed to combat obesity since the 1940s. In an industry like healthcare that is typically resistant to change, digital health, on the other hand, has had a constant transformative influence. Furthermore, the transformative implications of digital technologies in healthcare have never been more evident than since the mid-1990s, when the US National Academy of Medicine began proposing the complete digitisation of health data. With the introduction of electronic data, artificial intelligence, wearables and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices, health care is moving even closer to personalised and preventative paradigms based on ubiquitous technology that enables real-time self-care or monitoring.
The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic emphasises the importance of continuing to enhance digital health. Traditional face-to-face medical consultations raise the risk of contamination, highlighting the importance of digital consultation technologies. Similarly, instruments are required to aid in the understanding and assistance of the pandemic’s consequences on our bodily and, particularly, mental health. Even without this increased requirement, digital technology will undoubtedly continue to alter the healthcare industry. This article outlines a number of present critical difficulties that must be addressed in order for digital health systems to achieve the guiding concept of being for everyone, anywhere, and at any time.
- LACK OF DATA INTEROPERABILITY
Patients’ ability to transfer information between providers and search for care within their networks or at reduced prices is hampered because of the lack of efficient and computerised access to their data. The lack of efficient, automated access to a patient’s records limits the information available to clinicians while treating the patient, especially for data that has been stored over time in multiple locations and IT systems. It also limits the physician’s access to real-time, 24-hour-a-day data, such as measurements collected from a smartwatch, and forces the patient to report after the event.
All benefits of digital transformation in healthcare necessitate data that is accessible and interoperable across centres. Health care providers and payers will be unable to reap the benefits of current computing solutions like machine learning and artificial intelligence to advise treatment decisions and discover patterns unless they can access numerous data across a population of patients. Although many centres have implemented systems to retain electronic health records, these records’ accessibility and interoperability remain a long way off until a digital health transition occurs
- COSTS OF DIGITALISATION
The financial aspect is one factor that puts most digital transformation ambitions on the backburner. Healthcare organisations need to concentrate on the return on investment (ROI) along with the value proposition that a digitally-powered system may provide.
In addition, agile businesses realise that adopting a digital strategy provides them with more scalability, revenue, and profit than traditional ones. Instead of focusing on the costs, it’s wiser to consider the money saved once digital transformation eliminates wasteful procedures. Telemedicine, for example, can reduce the need for in-person consultations, allowing clinicians to see more patients. Similarly, when it comes to chronic disease management, adopting digital can save you much money.
- OUTDATED LEGACY PLATFORMS
The effectiveness of digital transformation is hampered by outdated organisational structures, inefficient procedures, and dogmatic leadership styles. This was never more evident than in the year 2020 when businesses rapidly struggled to transition to a remote company model. It’s difficult enough to learn new tools, but transformation might seem insurmountable when you add change aversion to the mix. Fortunately, focusing on organisational change management can assist your company in preparing its people for the challenges ahead. Instead of healthcare organisations focusing solely on the technical aspects of digital transformation, they should build a holistic change management strategy that considers the people who will be directly affected.
- LACK OF PROPER IT SKILLS
Any effective digital transition requires a dedicated, highly competent IT workforce. However, putting this team together is a challenge as organisations are investing in new technologies. A devoted, highly skilled IT team is at the heart of any successful digital transformation. Skill shortages prevent more than 50% of the firms from achieving their transformation goals. They lack knowledge in cybersecurity, enterprise architecture, technical architecture, and advanced data analytics.
- DATA PROVACY AND SECURITY CONCERNS
Every business faces cybersecurity challenges, and healthcare is no exception. Cyber dangers, which can be incredibly costly, require organisations to be exceedingly watchful. Healthcare firms have incurred the most extensive data breach costs, three times greater than in other industries. The three most prevalent vulnerabilities in healthcare are user authentication flaws, endpoint leaks, and excessive user rights. Taking the necessary steps to reinforce these areas is critical to the healthcare industry’s security.
Furthermore, implementing IoMT and the industry’s overall digitalisation will undoubtedly result in more attacks. While some dangers result from malicious intent, others are the result of faults in the development of a product or software. The erroneous distribution of sensitive and confidential information of 150,000 patients in the United Kingdom was blamed on a software coding error in 2018. Organisations who create software, mobile apps, websites, IoMT devices, and other products and systems must guarantee that bugs like this are discovered before releasing or updating their products and systems.
- UNSUITABLE DIGITAL USER EXPERIENCE
Creating flawless and user-friendly products such as a connected heart monitor, mobile application, or any other digital product or service is a huge issue. When it comes to any technology, the end-user must be considered to create a user-friendly product or service. This is critical in the healthcare industry because patients and medical professionals will use many items. For example, an inconvenient or poorly built IoMT device can taint a patient’s experience and prompt them to remove the device, decreasing the amount of data it can capture. On the other hand, if an IoMT device’s software is challenging to use, it will limit medical professionals’ willingness to use or recommend the device to other patients. The lack of standards, particularly in IoMT, makes it more difficult for these commodities to perform flawlessly in a connected device ecosystem.
- LACK OF A DEFINED STRATEGY
The term “digital transformation” is significantly more than a catchphrase. Despite this, it is frequently used without definition. As a result, organisations surge ahead in choppy waters, knowing that they need to go but unsure of where they’re heading. The transformation might not get off the ground if there’s no plan in place. What are the goals and priorities of my company? Are they constant throughout the organisation, or are some stakeholders on different wavelengths?Does the present business procedure match the expected expansion of the organisation? Is the existing strategy capable of assisting in achieving the long-term objectives?
If not, organisations may need to adapt workflows, change business rules, and use data in new ways than when the legacy systems were first established. There’s a need to look at the organisations transformation’s long-term goals and using these milestones to create a realistic strategy. To accomplish so, organisations must have a clear understanding of the digital solutions they wish to employ as well as the culture into which they will be integrated.
The healthcare business can no longer afford to be slow to adopt new technologies. Given the rapid rate of digital disruption across industries, healthcare organisations must alter significantly to be relevant. The promise of the digital revolution is tailored and preventative healthcare. It has the potential to transform patient care and help health companies save time on documentation and data entry.
The present epidemic is unquestionably putting a strain on traditional medical systems. By enabling substantial shifts in medical care both during and after the epidemic, digital health technologies will play a critical role in battling the pandemic and any future pandemics. Such developments will not be without difficulties, both in terms of the pandemic itself and the creation and deployment of new digital health solutions in general.
Although the aforementioned digital transformation difficulties may appear daunting, they do not have to spell the end of any organisation’s project. It’s critical to understand how to anticipate, detect, and work with these problems. To be successful in the digital economy, organisations must address these challenges head-on and view digital transformation as investing in people, technology, systems, and processes to improve how firms operate. Many difficulties start with organisation’s leaping into the effort, enthralled by the flashy new technologies. However, healthcare organisations can attain all of the benefits hoped for by taking some time, evaluating alternatives, and preparing the staff.