The components of digital innovation in healthcare

Photo of Artur OleschArtur Olesch
October 28, 2021
... min read

If you had to name just one improvement to healthcare systems, with the use of new technologies, what would it be? Better patient-doctor communication? Quick access to reliable feedback on your health when you need it? Easier navigation through the healthcare system for every patient? Less administrative work, if you are a medical practitioner? With effective use of new digital innovations in healthcare, it’s possible to achieve them all.

At a glance:

If we keep prioritizing health and well-being, healthcare digital transformation will deliver the much-needed change we’ve all been waiting for. Illustration by Zuza Szostak.

New innovations in healthcare have come at just the right time. While the list of challenges is getting longer, the gap between the demand for healthcare services and available resources is widening. From unequal access to health services, the complexity of health systems, and low patient engagement rate, current organizational processes are limiting the impact of even the greatest of medical advances.

If we’re going to start seeing the long-awaited benefits of digital transformations, healthcare practitioners, and patients alike, need regular and easy access to the most innovative solutions available within the healthcare industry. For all the ways in which we can benefit from the full potential of digital transformations, there’s one thing they have in common—they work best when humans get involved.

Eliminating the “IF’s” in healthcare

Millions of lives could be saved every year IF patients were diagnosed on time. For example, for every month cancer treatment is delayed, there is an increase in the risk of death by around 10%. Previously, access to timely and precise diagnosis was dependent on physical meetings between patients and medical practitioners, which drastically limited accessibility to care. But since most people in the world now have access to a smartphone and the Internet, healthcare can be provided everywhere. For example, through a reliable initial symptom assessment, that can be used remotely.

Enhancing the healthcare experience

People are different—they have diverse needs, special life circumstances, and encounter unique obstacles. However, the art of a new paradigm in healthcare is to give patients a choice. And you can do that by assuring easy, 24/7 access to primary care with symptom checkers, providing patients with some autonomy in the way they can access treatment. Patients want integrated patient journeys, convenience and visible outcomes—suggests a study by McKinsey.

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Digital Front Doors for Healthcare Organizations 101

Breaking barriers between doctors and patients

Regardless of whether it’s distance, lack of time, financial distress, family commitments, shame, or even fear, overcoming the hurdles that stop patients from visiting their doctor can often be impossible. However, innovations in healthcare can build new bridges between people and healthcare systems. Telemedicine, integrated with patient triage solutions, is one such example. As a result, the concept of “health at your fingertips'' becomes real—bringing back the power of an empathic patient-physician relationship.

Transforming the “moments of truth”, in the patient path, into actions

If we want to truly put patients in the center of healthcare, we have to support them through every second of their health and well-being decision-making process. We can do this by being readily available when concerns arise. Especially at the earliest stages of diagnosis and prevention—that subtle moment when intuition or symptom suggests that something is wrong. But, if the patient has no reliable or trustworthy way to find out what’s going on, we end up wasting the most precious element of healthcare—the individual’s personal awareness of their health. When we understand this, we can improve triage processes and, ultimately, overall patient diagnosis and care. That’s why accurate technology is key to ensuring patients’ safety and trust.

Providing patients with tools so they can help manage their health

For too long, healthcare has relied on data generated in medical facilities. Although patients can describe the state of their health, their insights and experiences are often missing. The individual patient may keep track of their vital signs, and make note of other information that can be easier to capture at home than during a short, at times stressful, visit to the doctor. These details are not only critical for decision-making; they inspire trust and introduce the critical psychological determinants of care. To achieve this, you could, for instance, integrate your EHR’s (electronic health records) with medical API for symptom assessment and triage.

Giving patients a multifunctional toolbox, instead of one tool

Of course, every innovation for healthcare must be regulated, and consist of verified medical knowledge, to ensure the highest quality and prioritize patient safety. However, within the health system framework, individuals need more freedom when making health-related decisions. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how easily patients transitioned to telehealth or pre-diagnostic services, implemented by most innovative healthcare companies. We can only guess how many lives digital tools, and innovative ideas in the medical field, have saved.

Removing an individual’s dependence on external factors for health and well-being

The World Health Organization calls it “health for all,” which is described in detail in their “Global strategy on digital health 2020-2025”: “Digital health can be valued and adopted if it is accessible and supports equitable and universal access to quality health services; enhances the efficiency and sustainability of health systems in delivering quality, affordable and equitable care; and strengthens and scales up health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis, management, rehabilitation, and palliative care […].”

On the road to digital transformation in healthcare, we do not lack the “digital” factor: innovative ideas in healthcare and medical services can be quickly transformed into technological advancements. In a democratized business environment, teams of patients, physicians, and engineers develop solutions tailored to still unmet needs. This is how Infermedica’s symptom checker was created. It helps patients navigate through complex health systems, and gives them a reliable solution for self-assessing their health. It also helps medical practitioners to strengthen their relationships with patients and make data-based decisions. Using digital front doors for healthcare organizations leads to an improvement of care and patient experience, digitally helping reshape healthcare systems by improving patient involvement and co-decision making.

The second factor is “transformation.” This includes an integrated strategy with clear goals, leadership, and change management. It also includes, but is not limited to, capability building, monitoring of progress towards defined outcomes, empowering people, and upgrading tools with medical innovation. If we keep prioritizing health and well-being, healthcare digital transformation will deliver the much-needed change we’ve all been waiting for.

Curious about our solutions? Get in touch with the Infermedica team.

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Digital Front Doors for Healthcare Organizations 101