The digital transformation of the healthcare industry has accelerated rapidly over recent years, with many healthcare organisations looking to improve patient care through digital innovation. The advent of the Covid-19 crisis has only increased the rate of this transformation, at least partly because of the wider adoption of telehealth measures to accord with social distancing guidelines.
As healthcare has gone digital, it has opened up opportunities for improving patient outcomes and empowering staff to do their best work. Healthcare organisations are now able to provide care in new ways, which better fits with patients’ needs and preferences.
However, despite its many benefits, digital transformation is no easy task. For most healthcare providers digital transformation is an ongoing process and comes with both opportunities and risks — so what should your organisation be considering before embarking on digital transformation?
Consideration 1: Keep costs low and outcomes high
The reality is that effective digital transformation requires significant investment. Digital transformation projects, (excluding £1.6 billion for live services), are expected to cost the NHS £8.1bn between 2019 and 2024 — and that’s to catch up with the basic healthcare tech trends, let alone the more ambitious (like AI doctors).
As digital transformation can take years to complete, organisations need to be aware of how much this will cost them in both upfront costs and ongoing costs. Planning, consistency and streamlining are key to keeping costs low by ensuring that organisations choose the right solutions at project inception.
Having goals and guidelines in place from the start can prevent the transformation from becoming a lengthy and disjointed affair, crippled by constantly mounting posts. For healthcare providers, speed of implementation is also a consideration. As well as remaining within budget, digital transformation in the healthcare industry needs to result in the minimum of operational downtime and disruption to vital services.
Consideration 2: Security is paramount
One obvious consequence of digital transformation is that cybersecurity becomes a critical priority.
- Medical compliance: Healthcare organisations have a responsibility to protect the digital information of their patients and staff, which makes the greater adoption of digital technology inherently riskier.
- Ongoing effort: In addition to considering digital security at project inception/beginning stages, healthcare companies must ensure that they are investing in digital security on an ongoing basis. This should include investing in digital risk-management capabilities and hiring digital penetration testers to conduct regular audits of networks, devices, apps etc.
- Secure systems: One of the main priorities of any digital transformation in healthcare is to create secure data storage systems. These systems need to not only be able to provide a variety of data storage methods to store disparate file types, from electronic health records and vendor-neutral archives to a variety of uncommon image files, but for that storage to be scalable while remaining secure, so as to be future proof.
Consideration 3: You need the people on the ground
Healthcare is already a highly skilled area, but as digital transformation advances, that skill intermix will need to change. Currently, there are 153,000 technical staff employed by the NHS, an increase of 29% since 2009.
This rapid increase in the number of technologists is driven by the need for experts to cover the basic tenets of digital transformation, such as:
- Discover the pain points in current patient care and help produce digital solutions for them.
- Iterate that digitised solution until it meets patient demands and is practically feasible.
- Implement the solution and manage its deployment in a time and cost-efficient manner.
- Remain up to date enough to continuously improve and evolve the new digital landscape.
Any company considering greater digital transformation will need the required expert ‘boots on the ground’ in order for that transformation to be feasible and effective.
Consideration 4: Ensure it actually helps people
Context-specific digital transformation can provide a huge number of positive outcomes for healthcare providers, improving patient care with improved access to services and information.
However, digital solutions that work well in one area of an organisation may not be appropriate for other areas or departments with different requirements.
To successfully implement digital transformation within your healthcare organisation requires careful planning at the outset, to ensure the digital solution selected is fit for purpose.
It will be necessary to work closely with senior levels of management and other key stakeholders within the organisation who are ultimately responsible for ensuring compliance, security protocols and patient care needs are met. Working in concert, all key stakeholders need to ensure that digital transformation projects avoid common pitfalls that can reduce overall utility, such as:
- Avoiding additional complexity: Digital transformation projects should be carried out in a way that avoids creating new silos or unnecessary digital systems and applications that only serve to complicate services.
- Giving due attention to patients: Digital transformation in healthcare is a digital evolution that is ultimately about improving patient outcomes and experiences, a goal that should never be lost sight of.
- Providing reassurance and security through information: Digital transformation in services should be iterative and aimed at providing reassurance about digital security through transparency, which will help to create trust in the digital healthcare data storage and retrieval ecosystem.
- Allowing patients to be more engaged and proactive regarding their health: Digital transformation projects should aim to use technology as a tool for allowing patients to have a more active hand in their own healthcare, not a barrier to participation.
Find a tech partner to support you
Effective digital transformation is driven by corporate culture, digital competence and a clear understanding of what digital transformation means. This is why it’s important to find the right tech partner with digital healthcare capabilities that can help you throughout your journey from strategy through to implementation.
Nexstor offers healthcare providers expert support and assistance in digital transformation projects. We have the capabilities, expertise and people to help you reach your digital healthcare goals.
Nexstor has a proven track record in supporting organisations through digital transitions including our work with NHS England on their Digital First program which aims to improve patient care
Partnering with Qumulo, a platform with its own excellent track record of successfully supporting the digitisation of other medical organisations, Nexstor is uniquely placed to support digital transformation in healthcare. With our knowledge and experience of digital health, you can be confident that we will help your organisation realise the full potential of technologies like cloud storage or big data analytics for medical research.
Pro tip: To find out the answer to: ‘Why Qumulo for the Healthcare Industry?’, check out our blog, you won’t regret it…
Nexstor has extensive experience with digital transformation programs in healthcare organisations around the world. We are experts in working with companies on digital change management from implementation, training/adoption & ongoing customer satisfaction monitoring.
All this expertise is backed up by a wide range of digital transformation capabilities, which means we can offer our clients everything from digital supply chain design to digital process automation.
So whether it’s improving patient experience with digital health records or digitising crucial healthcare services like finance and HR using cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) solutions, Nexstor is there to help you make your digital transformation plan a reality.
Try our quote calculator to learn more about how Qumulo products and Nexstor expertise can help your trust today.