The State of Digital Transformation in Healthcare
The State of Digital Transformation in Healthcare
The development of new technologies, together with the rapidly changing consumer expectation and the need for care decoupling from physical locations, such as hospitals, has sped up the rate of innovation in healthcare in the past years, with the industry accepting that it's here to stay. As a result, US national health spending is estimated to grow at an average annual rate of 5.4% from 2019 to 2028, eventually reaching $6.2 trillion by 20281, which is why the real battle for healthcare innovation is happening now with the companies trying to capture as much of the market as possible.
What are the patients and customers looking for?
Consumer preferences and expectations have been changing significantly over the past years, further influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic that sped up the adoption of digital innovation in healthcare, such as location-agnostic healthcare, even further.
During a study in 2015 where more than 2200 participants were interviewed2, the first debunked myth was that "Healthcare is different from other industries. Consumers don't bring the same expectations about customer experience to healthcare that they bring to retail or technology companies." On the contrary, the results have shown that more than half of the participants stated that excellent customer service is essential for healthcare companies as for non-healthcare ones. Furthermore, having excellent customer service was one of the three traits that mattered the most for the customers.
Another study in 20113 has shown that 78% of patients would like to have online access to their medical histories and that the convenience of any time and anywhere access is so important that almost 50% would consider switching healthcare providers to the one that offered communication and completion of healthcare tasks online. Among millennials, that number is even higher – 59% percent of them stated that they would switch to the doctor that offered better online access. Given that the digital transformation in healthcare has only sped up since 2011, it is likely that the numbers have increased further.
It is becoming increasingly clear that healthcare market leaders will be able to quickly respond to the changing consumer preferences while becoming more customer-centered and increasing technological innovation in their operations. We have recently published an article that explains why following a standardized process and becoming a fast follower will help innovation portfolio management decision making and help your company learn and innovate quickly. You can read more about it here.
Technology trends that matter
The global market for digital healthcare transformation is forecasted to hit $210 billion in 2025, with its valuation in 2018 being $76.34 billion4. Telemedicine, artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled medical devices, and blockchain electronic health records are just a few examples of digital transformation, which are completely reshaping how we interact with health professionals, the way our data is shared with and among healthcare providers, and how decisions about our treatment plans and therefore also our health outcomes are made. As a result, the adoption of new technologies will positively affect the efficiency of your operations as a healthcare provider and the patients' experience, and, ultimately, their health outcomes.
Innovation is on every healthcare company's radar due to its vast number of advantages, such as:
- Streamlining health professionals' work
- Optimizing systems
- Improving patient outcomes
- Reducing human error
- Lowering costs through advanced web and mobile experiences
Lowering the cost of healthcare, next to improving the care itself, is a point that by itself should excite you as a healthcare provider. A recent study5 has estimated that the costs saved could lie anywhere between $1.5 trillion and $3 trillion a year by 2030 due to the usage of such interventions as remote monitoring, artificial intelligence, and automation, among others. However, at the same time, the results of the same survey suggest that the digital maturity of the MedTech and pharmaceutical sectors lacks behind with a score of 28 (on a range between 0 and 100), while the average across all industries is 34 and retail, one of the leading industries, has achieved a score of 40. The takeaway of these statistics is a quantified and proven-by-research opportunity for the most active healthcare companies to capture value, drive additional sources of growth and improve patient care by utilizing digital solutions and technologies. There is still much room to capture by the next movers.
However, if you are reading this and thinking about postponing your digital transformation... the answer is that now is the time to take action. According to a Digital Health Report released in 2021 where 399 health executives have been interviewed6, 81% of the healthcare executives stated that the pace of digital transformation is accelerating in their company, while 93% said that their firm is innovating with urgency and call to action in 2021. More and more companies understand that the innovators of today will win tomorrow.
To help transform your healthcare organization into a digital machine, seven of the current trends in digital healthcare are going to be outlined.
People are only becoming busier, and, just like with other services, more and more patients want to have access to healthcare on their schedules. Therefore, convenience is critical, and mobile is essential, with the recent statistics showing that, in 2021, 54.8% of global website traffic is generated on mobile devices7.
The Importance of Big Data
For the healthcare industry, utilizing the advantages of big data can bring a number of benefits, such as:
- Lower rate of medical errors (software can flag any inconsistencies and mistakes in patient data, therefore reducing the risk of error)
- Facilitating preventive care (recurrent emergency department visitors can account for up to 28% of visits8 while analyzing big data could help identify these and create preventive plans)
Patient treatment through Virtual Reality (VR)
VR has a large number of exciting applications in healthcare. One of these being pain management for patients suffering from chronic pain. For them, VR has proven to be a safer and more efficient alternative to drugs9. In addition, Virtual Reality can also be used to treat anxiety, PTSD, strokes, and more.
Wearable technology represents healthcare companies collecting data via remote medical devices. With digital becoming the new standard, patients are becoming more focused on prevention and maintenance, where wearable technology that allows for 24/7 monitoring of high-risk patients becomes relevant. According to Business Insider Intelligence Research, the number of installed fitness trackers and health-based wearables is expected to grow by 10% annually, surpassing 120 million devices by 2023, just over one-third of the total US population10. Fitness trackers, ECG devices, and Blood pressure monitors are just some examples of wearables.
Predictive healthcare can aid businesses of all sizes. It can help predict which illnesses and diseases may become significant issues in the future, which can, if taken into account, reduce the overall pressure on the healthcare system.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is more than just a trend due to its proven ability to make processes more efficient and even replace humans. As a result, the healthcare AI-powered software, hardware, and services market is forecasted to exceed $34 billion by 202511. Some of its applications include chatbots and virtual health assistants. Chatbots can fill a range of roles, from customer service assistants to diagnostic tools or even therapists, as the global healthcare virtual assistant market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 24.7% to reach $1.76 billion by 202512. However, the real advantages of AI are showcased best in such areas of healthcare as precision medicine, medical imaging, drug discovery, and genomics.
Healthcare and pharma companies are investing significantly in blockchain as it has already proven to be effective in preventing data breaches and improving medical records' accuracy. Electronic health records are just an example of its application, while the whole blockchain market in the healthcare industry is estimated to grow to $890.5 million by 202313.
How can U+ help your healthcare company become a leader in innovation?
U+ is a global digital product development company with 12 years of experience and a 75-person-strong in-house team. We have the skills, experience that built two corporate innovation labs, exited three companies, invested in 140+ startups, and generated over $1B in market value. Through our experience, we have developed the U+ Method, a methodology that helps de-risk innovation and product launches that is patient-led and based on rapid iteration. The purpose of our approach is to find the truth about where a digital product fits in the market if it does at all, and what to do about it.
We have launched U+Health in partnership with Healthcare Business Resources, a private equity group focused on transforming healthcare and a team of experienced Healthcare Industry veterans with over 185 years of combined operational and M&A experience of $26B+ in transactions. Together, we possess everything needed to deliver innovative businesses to market in the healthcare industry successfully:
- Recruiting – We have a robust recruiting engine and can hire for our clients' specific needs within 30 days
- Functional Teams – We do not only provide tech but functional support for the business. U+ has learned the business over the past 12 years and become an accepted leader in the space.
- Process is our Product – To every client, we provide a fine-tuned process to bring a product to market. This process can be adapted, repeated, and scaled as needed
- Relationships – Whenever we work with clients, we always have a key leader responsible for a particular functional relationship to get the correct information across and solve any pain points. This is further supported by our "Safe Space" principle and the Meeting Cadence, including daily, weekly, and monthly meetings.
- Tech – Our tech team is fully in-house, just like the market, design, and product teams. U+Health has all the needed operating solutions for software. We are also proficient in the AI & ML and RMA spaces, with the ability to provide these solutions too. See the complete list of our focus areas here.
To date, we have brought 80+ successful businesses to market, creating over $1 billion in new value for Fortune 1000 companies, including businesses in the Healthcare industry. Our success stories in this space include a Supplier Credentialing System for Hospitals and an Online Fertility Wiki for an IVF Clinic.
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Projected NHE, 2019-2028↩
- McKinsey & Company, Debunking common myths about healthcare consumerism↩
- Intuit Health Survey, Americans Worried About Costs; Want Greater Access to Physicians↩
- Adroit Market Research, Global Digital Transformation in Healthcare Market Size by Region and Forecast 2018 to 2025↩
- McKinsey, How the MedTech industry can capture value from digital health↩
- Accenture, Accenture Digital Health Technology Vision 2021↩
- Statista, Mobile percentage of website traffic 2021↩
- MedPage Today, By the Numbers: Who Are the ED' Frequent Flyers'?↩
- HealthTech, Virtual Reality Pain Management Study Unites All Aspects of Care↩
- Business Insider Intelligence research, Wearable Technology & Healthcare Medical Devices↩
- Tractica, Healthcare Artificial Intelligence Software, Hardware, and Services Market to Surpass $34 Billion Worldwide by 2025↩
- Meticulous Research, Healthcare Virtual Assistant Market By Product (Chatbot And Smart Speaker), Technology (Speech Recognition, Text-To-Speech, And Text Based), End-User (Providers, Payers, And Other End User), And Geography - Global Forecast To 2025↩
- Prescient & Strategic Intelligence, Blockchain in Healthcare Market – Global Market Size, Share, Development, Growth, and Demand Forecast, 2013–2023↩