Improve health systems through digital transformation
While overall healthcare spending has increased in response to COVID-19, crisis spending isn’t sustainable. The traditional hospital-centric design of healthcare is no longer future-proof. Building a resilient healthcare system will require redesigning the service delivery model so people can access healthcare more efficiently, affordably, and closer to home. The digital transformation of healthcare can fuel this redesign and increase overall responsiveness and resilience. In fact, a resilient healthcare system will be a digital healthcare system.
Adoption of digital technology by healthcare professionals, patients, and those seeking care has radically accelerated during the pandemic. Healthcare providers, in response to COVID-19, rapidly scaled up their virtual care capabilities. Digital triaging apps helped providers prioritize care while keeping their staff and patients safe. Telehealth and remote patient monitoring turned from a novelty into a necessity, enabling care providers and patients to stay connected in times of physical distancing.
Health solution innovators, like Philips, can help lead this transformation. A good example is the way Philips supported Netherlands GP practice ‘Midsland’ on the island of Terschelling. Through a combination of access to technologies and the remote support of specialists, these general practitioners are able to function as a 'remote hospital'. If a patient comes in with a broken wrist, the practitioner can make an X-ray that immediately can be shared with a remote traumatologist, radiologist or emergency doctor. This means patients don’t have to make the trip to the mainland for emergency care or medical imaging.
Digital technologies, data analytics, and patient-centered design provide new opportunities to deliver care in more efficient, cost-effective ways – like streamlining administrative processes and overcoming geographic barriers. Digital transformation has the potential to reorganize service delivery and connect disparate elements of the current fragmented health system.
However, as with all public infrastructure, governments will need to take a lead orchestrating role in the design of a future-proof digital healthcare architecture. It’s crucial governments step into that orchestrating role now, as hospitals are investing in digitalization, to avoid trapping systems in technological lock-ins and creating data silos that are difficult to unlock. This will be essential to realize the promise of digitalization in the long run.