From innovation to necessity and onwards to evolution, the digitisation of healthcare is handing more control over their wellbeing to individuals than ever before. There is a real sense that successful digitisation could see the relationship between practitioner and patient create not just a virtuous circle but a virtuous spiral, each interaction delivering more appropriate, better-focused care than the last. By and large, executives at every level of healthcare recognise the potential of a wide range of digital healthcare services and appreciate how they integrate into overall patient care. However, there are still some gaps in both knowledge and resourcing that must be addressed before the opportunities in digitisation can be fully realised.
MAKING MONEY MEET AMBITION
While telehealth visits were available well before the pandemic, the restrictions on face-to-face interactions imposed by COVID-19 opened up the possibilities of how they could complement patient care. Many practitioners are now keen to exploit its potential yet further, but while the enthusiasm is there, funds are not necessarily keeping pace. Beyond emergency powers to pay for remote services, there is not yet clarity on how telehealth and associated digital services could become a compensated part of standard healthcare packages.
HEALTHCARE IS A POINT OF DIFFERENTIATION
The younger the generation, the more focused it is on its overall wellbeing. To the extent that Gen Z and millennial employees would rather see healthcare prioritised over a salary raise if push came to shove. This means that whether mainstream healthcare provides access to digital services or not, younger generations are more likely to seek out providers, or employers that do. Healthcare providers that focus on old-style appointments, lab results, wellness approaches (or the lack of) will find themselves deselected in what is becoming a preference-driven sector.
HEALTHCARE ON THE PATIENT’S TERMS
Digitisation does not mean removing the in-person healthcare experience, far from it. Today’s healthcare consumer is looking for a mix of on and offline wellness provisions that meet their needs, wherever they may be. That means obtaining lab results while buying shampoo in a store, having access to an automated telehealth consultation at home on the weekend, or an in-person appointment that has been digitally scheduled and delivers a holistic healthcare program based on data-led insights into conditions, overall health and lifestyle. To be a healthcare provider at the point of consumption, the organisation has to be digital-first at its heart.
SIMPLIFY, RATIONALISE – THEN BUILD
Healthcare startups are a small but influential part of the sector. Legacy healthcare providers currently have a much larger market share, but they can and will be disrupted. While digital-first and -only organisations benefit from being built digitally from the ground up, legacy institutions can also benefit from the same digital advantages. However, they must not try to run before they can walk. For many, it means going back and revisiting core systems and processes and reconfiguring them – including their employee workflows – so they’re fit to support future digital innovations. Any activities attempted without this foundational work are almost certainly doomed to fail.