The pandemic is forcing the healthcare industry to accelerate digital change, and it has also changed how patients think about digital services.
Prior to the lockdown, people rarely sought out e-services such as online prescriptions or consultations through video platforms. Now that patients are seeing the benefits of digital healthcare, such as flexibility and personalization, more people are supporting the implementation of these services. In fact, a recent RedPoint Global survey found that 80% of people prefer to use digital channels, such as online messaging and virtual appointments, when interacting with their healthcare providers at least once.
As a result of this change, the healthcare sector is now under renewed scrutiny to continue progress towards digitalization and adoption of new technology. To ensure that this development is sustainable, the industry must first adopt robust IT frameworks that can support future technology growth.
The implementation of modern agile infrastructure will change health care
Despite digital acceleration, healthcare is still hampered by diverse systems. If healthcare data sets cannot ‘talk’ to each other, critical information can be trapped in loopholes, making it harder and harder to track a patient’s journey across different department. For healthcare to continue its growth, businesses within the sector need to consider how to invest time and money in modern agile infrastructure. By combining inconsistency and manual internal processes, organizations can manage services more efficiently and be empowered to improve patient care.
Digitality also introduces new security risks for businesses. Patient data must be encrypted and tokenized, while healthcare systems must adopt a zero-trust mindset, ensuring that all users and devices are authenticated and then continuously assessed. Before the NHS can use data to improve care for all, the healthcare industry must prove that it strictly protects the data and uses privacy -enhancing technologies.
Using AI for continued positive change within the healthcare industry
Once the industry has improved its IT infrastructure, it can take advantage of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI). AI will have a particularly transformative impact on the way health data is analyzed and used to help patients. By using AI with information about patients and medical resources, staff can improve operational efficiency and provide more accurate and personalized care.
Automation and AI can alike help prevent the increased stress felt by UK healthcare professionals in the pandemic. Clinics spend about half of their professional time typing, clicking, and checking boxes on electronic records. This is partly why mental health problems were four times more common among NHS staff during the first wave of COVID-19, according to the largest survey conducted on the psychological impact of the pandemic on health workers in the UK. For example, automation can help alleviate the administrative pressures felt by health care workers, providing significant amounts of time to focus on patient care, rather than paperwork.
Another benefit is that AI can help in the early detection of diseases and cancers quickly and with high accuracy. For example, in June 2021, the UK government announced that thousands of NHS patients and staff would benefit from dozens of new pioneering projects awarded a share of £ 36 million to test innovative AI technology. The projects are intended to help the NHS change the quality of care and the speed of diagnoses for conditions such as lung cancer.
Long -term cost savings
Digital transformation, and automation in particular also contribute to the financial bottom line of healthcare. Estimated cost savings vary, but a 2018 report by the Institute for Public Policy Research estimated that AI and automation could save the NHS £ 12.5 billion per year by freeing up staff time. This is important now because a critical labor shortage is imminent. The World Health Organization estimates that the total demand for health care workers will increase to 18.2 million across Europe by 2030. AI could also prove invaluable in helping transfer skills where they are needed, and prevented. the shortcomings of the NHS. Through the use of AI, the core activities of primary occupations such as nursing will change, allowing workers to refocus on tasks away from the administrative side, and on improving patient care.
The pandemic has accelerated changes in the NHS, forcing practices to remove traditional paper processes and replace them with end-to-end digitization. Right now, the challenge is making sure the technology is used in the right way to improve old systems. Healthcare can then focus on emerging technologies, such as AI, that will empower doctors and nurses to be prepared for future challenges and improve patient care.
About the Author
Will Owen is Director of Healthcare for ServiceNow. ServiceNow makes the world a better place for everyone. Our cloud-based platform and solutions help digitize and unite organizations so they can find smarter, faster, more efficient ways to streamline workflows. So employees and customers can be more connected, more innovative, and more agile. And we can all create the future we can imagine. The world works with ServiceNow. For more information, visit www.servicenow.com.