The Importance of Health Stack Digitization
Digital Wellness is an important agenda item for numerous countries globally. The COVID-19 pandemic has helped stoke the need to accelerate digital transformation initiatives in healthcare and the patient experience. And even though there have been many advances in healthcare and medical technology…there is still a lot that needs to be accomplished in digital transformations in the medical sector and the digitization of enterprise eHealth stacks.
Digital health initiatives are designed to save time, streamline data, reduce inefficiencies, and uplift the accuracy and transparency of patient records. Digital transformation initiatives are also crucial due to the disproportionate doctor-patient ratios that exist in most countries. Initiatives such as eHealth seek to address these challenges by tackling fundamental issues that are historical roadblocks such as access to data like patient records.
Access to patient records has historically seen tremendous challenges as it relates to efficiency. One principal thought of eHealth is that instead of ferrying patient records physically from physician to physician, one should be able to retrieve patient data from where they were actually generated. This will also help provide natural communication points to all physicians and practitioners who have been involved with the patient previously. Moreover, this also provides the patient themselves with information transparency and greater access to their own health data.
From a national perspective, standardization is still a challenge to eHealth stack, but the overall benefits of a single health registry that has the health records for most of a country’s population is not debatable. A digital platform could provide a seamless exchange of records by ensuring both quality and privacy, as well as creating a robust system that can detect fraud and support an enhanced patient and provider experience.
Digital Transformation in Healthcare during COVID-19
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, providers have explored various digital platforms to deliver virtual services to their patients who, like them, had for periods of time gone exclusively remote. Virtual consultations offer not only flexibility, they also provide a comfortable setting that has been shown to encourage reticent patients to seek needed medical advice. Most industry pundits believe that these recent industry behaviors are not temporary, and will now be the norm going forward.
The rapid changes brought on by the pandemic have also accelerated the adoption of national eHealth stacks. The Indian government has started to provide a unique Health ID to all the citizens, which will make it easy for every individual to securely access and manage his/her health data digitally. By maintaining an integrated digital health database for the entire country, India hopes to negate a lot of inefficiencies that exist currently with competitive technologies, silos of information and incompatible data formats. The health records are stored with the actual healthcare information providers per their privacy policies, and are shared over the central network with encryption mechanisms, however only after patients have expressed consent. Patients are given control over who can access their medical records and for how long. This centralized repository also provides an opportunity to leverage such advanced technologies like machine learning ML, AI and NLP to continually enhance overall operations. Because most of the medical equipment currently in use are IoT devices capable of connecting to a network — either internet or a local network, enterprises can extract insights and actionable intelligence in the effort to improve the overall patient experience. Technology advancements provide better decision support for patient diagnosis in addition to significantly reducing medical errors, all of which contribute to better quality patient care.
However, legitimate enterprises are not the only ones that have access to these advanced technologies, nefarious actors do as well. The corresponding surge in potential cybersecurity risks make medical devices and patient confidential records vulnerable to security breaches. Thus, eHealth stack providers must be hyper-vigilant as it pertains to data interoperability and security.
Still, digital transformation initiatives and advancements in eHealth technology stacks will allow the healthcare industry to confidently invest in advanced technologies because the known benefits far outweigh the potential disadvantages. The ultimate goals of providing a single source of the truth, triaging patient care to provide value-based diagnosis through analytics, all while maintaining simultaneous cyber vigilance is achievable and a true game changer!
Authored by: Aswathy Ramachandran