The COVID-19 pandemic gave the world a lot to think about. The world stopped in its tracks. Everything halted. People remained at home, trying to stay safe. While the world bunkered down, one sector was busier than ever. The healthcare sector did not have the option of stopping everything to process the pandemic. Humanity needed the healthcare sector to push itself to its limits, and it did. The COVID-19 pandemic showcased these limits for the world to see, and the need for healthcare alternative systems became a burning issue to tend to.
The Healthcare System Needs to Catch Up
Various sectors worldwide adopted the technological shift way earlier than the healthcare sector. Apps like Airbnb are vital players in the hotel and travel sector, booking.com revolutionized the world of ticket booking, and so forth. The healthcare sector, the industry that needs it the most, is left to play catch up. COVID-19 highlighted these shortcomings and proved the need for radical technological change and the adoption healthcare alternative systems. Here is an overview of the essential requirements.
The Patients Expectations
Firstly, technological leaps have rendered the world available at the press of a button. People have started to expect the same across all sectors. Patients are no different and expect the same from the healthcare institution. Patients are indulging more and are looking for ways to be more involved in their healthcare journey, thus predicting a more personalized and fluid healthcare experience.
The redpoint global survey 2019 showed that 75 percent of patients demand a more personalized healthcare experience. Such information proved that the patients needed and required changes before the pandemic hit. And after the pandemic, the expectation became even higher, as to the McKinsey virtual health survey 2021. The survey showed that 40 percent of patients prefer and will still use “Telehealth” going forward, and even 11 percent were early adopters before the pandemic. Patients’ dynamic needs and expectations are crucial to proving the need for alternative healthcare systems.
Chronic Diseases Spike
Another element that burdens the worldwide healthcare systems is the increase in chronic, lifestyle-related illnesses. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 400 million people have diabetes, 500 million suffer from respiration-related diseases, and a whopping 1.1 billion adults worldwide suffer from hypertension. The inescapable truth is that these numbers will continue to soar due to aging and further patients falling victim to human decay. It is the cycle of life; by 2050, the population will have aged drastically, and the population aged 60 and older will be around 2 billion. It was 900 million just a couple of years ago, in 2015.
Sustainability is vital for the healthcare system, an urgent need that Healthcare foundations must address immediately. Various new technological solutions can help detect, diagnose and even treat chronic diseases more efficiently. The best part of including more tech in the healthcare sector and adopting healthcare alternative systems is prevention. You can prevent certain conditions with suitable precautions and tech to detect early signs of disease.
Reducing Waste and Costs
Furthermore, the costs are taking a toll on the healthcare sector. A challenge that was highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The expenses keep increasing while reimbursement is on shaky foundations. Between 2020 and 2024, the spending on global health is expected to rise to 3.9 percent annually, noticeably faster than the 2.8 percent annual increase between 2015 and 2019. It might seem like more money can be a good thing, but when it is spent wisely and on filling gaps and shortcomings. Unfortunately, 25 percent of total healthcare expenditure is going to waste, according to JAMA 2019. The main reason for that waste is administrative complications.
Improving operations and optimizing their efficiency, thus reducing waste, is a vital priority for healthcare leaders. Data-driven insights will help pinpoint where real gains are made. Digital transformation is needed more than ever since it will simplify this process and reduce waste and costs sharply. The future of healthcare systems depends on the digitization of the sector.
Lastly, the last issue plaguing the healthcare system is the shortage of health workers and specialists. The World Health Organization expects a global deficit of 12.9 million skilled healthcare professionals by 2035. The pandemic took its toll on health professionals, mentally and physically. According to a 2021 Medscape survey, 42 percent of medical workers experienced burnout. The pandemic did push some of these devoted workers past their limits. A digital adoption of healthcare alternative systems will help with routine aspects leading to this burnout feeling.
Technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can eliminate routine and monotone tasks. Ai and ML can even help healthcare institutions better reach their patients, eliminating unnecessary visits and freeing up sure doctors from obsolete extra work.
Main Method Currently Adopted
The Healthcare system needs to catch up, yet various health institutions already accept that digital transformation is a fact, not a suggestion. According to the Philips Future Health Index 2021, 44 percent of the surveyed medical professionals named data management the main issue they need to tackle. On the other hand, 37 percent of them named interoperability and data standards as the obstacle stopping them from implementing more technology. Here are some leading technologies that Healthcare Institutions can use to change the odds.
Digital platforms that allow fast and secure data transfer and integration are needed for digital transformation at the massive healthcare sector scale. During the pandemic, hospitals and healthcare providers witnessed the impact of cloud-based services. Improving flexibility, scalability, and pace. According to the Accenture Digital Health Technology Vision 2021, 66 percent of healthcare leaders expect the complete shift to cloud-based operations, moving their technological infrastructure to the cloud. The percentage is set to reach 96 percent within three years, proving that some leaders are ready for alternative healthcare systems.
AI and Human Workforce
Data is as valuable as the insight it provides. The overload of information is a pressuring issue for healthcare workers, who face a growing mass of data, such a massive influx of data from the hospitals and the patients. By 2025 the amount of data is set to grow by 36 percent annually. Wearable tech and embedded sensors will fire up this growth. IoT, the Internet of Things, will start sinking its teeth into the healthcare system, streamlining data between households and healthcare institutions.
Furthermore, AI augments the capabilities of medical professionals by helping them detect, diagnose, treat, and monitor diseases. It will also save critical time that can be put elsewhere while optimizing the workflow in healthcare organizations. Allowing the doctors to focus on far more essential matters. The first use of AI in healthcare has already made an impact, like Magnetic Resonance (MR), which allows breathing monitoring without the need for outdated, bulky machines. MR exams take around one minute to complete, and the tech keeps evolving and will be cut in half soon.
Lastly, looking back is not an option. The only way is forward. People have grown accustomed to technology and the digital aspect of life past the pandemic, and many want to take an active role in their healthcare journey. Simple, straightforward gadgets such as smartwatches and wearable tech could help you monitor your health. If the patients had made the leap of faith into a more tech-savvy tomorrow. Healthcare would have no choice but to follow.
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