Medicine has been going through its own digital transformation, but it faces privacy, integration and trust challenges.
Digital transformation is a growing trend in healthcare. It has much potential to change how patients are attended to, and to provide more efficient, connected, and intelligent service.
What’s more, the growth of digital health is a “priority”, according to the World Health Organization. The application of cutting-edge technology is a fundamental pillar in reaching universal healthcare coverage, according to the organization.
Digital transformation offers benefits for all aspects of the healthcare system, from patient services to monitoring, education, knowledge and research, the WHO says.
In practice, there is more and more interest in digital health technology. Patients are adapting to e-health tools. At the same time, experts see significant potential in big data analysis to improve medical knowledge and to predict illnesses in people.
Still, the digital transformation process in healthcare also has some important challenges ahead. Among them, data privacy and systems integration stand out.
Digital Transformation in Medical Attention Channels
The use of digital channels for medical attention is a growing trend.
Every year, more Americans turn to digital tools for health monitoring. Last year, 42% of the population used at least one of these tools, according to a study by Rock Health and Stanford Center for Digital Health. The use of video calls to connect with a medical professional rose from 7% in 2017 to 32% in 2019, according to the same study.
Despite this, the adoption of digital channels in medicine poses its own challenges. Distrust and user privacy concerns are growing challenges.
In 2017, for example, 86% of those polled had no problem sharing information about their health with their primary care physician, according to the Rock Health and Stanford studies. But this number diminished to 73% in 2019. During these two years, Americans also became more cautious when it came time to share medical information with almost all entities: from insurers to pharmacies.
Even though trust will rise on a general level thanks to greater familiarity with digital health tools, this is a key point to keep in mind when it comes time to develop an e-health app.
To foster users’ trust, it is fundamental to prioritize the security of e-health apps and how personal data is stored.
Big Data in Digital Health
The powerful tools of big data and artificial intelligence are other ways that digital transformation is improving healthcare services. These technologies bring the opportunity to detect illnesses before the onset of symptoms, to monitor of the health of a person over the years, and even to focus efforts more on maintaining wellbeing than on diagnosing problems, according to The Lancet.
Electronic Health Records (EHR) make up the fundamental component for collecting and analyzing data on a mass scale. EHRs offer complete, detailed, and accessible information about each patient, which allows for a broader understanding of a person.
The use of big data in health also implies important challenges, according to the WHO. Integrating systems to share the necessary data is a big challenge. To overcome this, issues with privacy and security must also be dealt with.
The path to digital transformation in health isn’t easy, but the opportunities are huge. By combining secure digital channels, a modern UX and big data analysis, a new paradigm can be created for health: digital tools that help to maintain wellbeing and avoid health problems even before they appear.