Digital Transformation in Healthcare - Enhancing Customer Experience

Sumit Puri, CIO, Max Healthcare | Saturday, 16 December 2017, 05:59 IST

 Digital Transformation in Healthcare - Enhancing Customer Experience Technology has been transforming every industry in significant ways and digital technology led transformation has engulfed the healthcare sector also immensely. From surgical robots to “smart hospitals,” the digital transformation is revolutionizing patient care like never before. It has been predicted that the digital revolution can save $300 billion in spending in the sector, especially in the area of chronic diseases.

Virtually all the players in this vast and complex healthcare ecosystem are stepping up their digitization efforts as they see opportunities in digitally transforming healthcare, not only in terms of improving patient satisfaction, disease outcomes and patient safety but also in reduced costs, improved operational efficiency and new revenue channels. The goals may vary with individual context in the vast healthcare ecosystem, however the common goal remains enhanced customer experience.

As the focus shifts from ‘treatment centric’ to ‘patient centric’ care delivery models the need is to be able to provide seamless service experience to the patient including a good treatment outcome and trust fostered by active and transparent engagement at all touch points within and outside the hospital.

With so many digital tools, platforms and apps in the market, all claiming to enhance the customer experience, the following three principles help in choosing the best option for an organisation.

Access – enabling affordable and cost effective healthcare services anytime, anywhere.
Convenience – efficient processes and workflows minimizing patient wait times.
Safety – monitored healthcare delivery outside and within hospitals to enable continuum of care.

As we move ahead in the digital journey, the following options are promising with wide scope of enhancing the customer experience:

Electronic Health Record – nothing compares to a good EHR solution when it comes to patient safety, and access to health information. Not only does this provide a longitudinal patient record with a capable platform to provide access to records, it serves as an integrated system with clinical protocols, order sets and clinical decision support to allow the clinicians to follow evidence based medicine. Global benchmarking studies have established that standardizing EHR platform is one of the best approaches to ensuring patient safety. At Max Healthcare, we have standardized procedures and diagnosis using ICD 10 codes to facilitate transparency in treatment and prevent errors. With 100 percent online order entry via CPOE by the clinicians supported by drug-drug interaction alerts and justifications, the chances of medication errors are minimized. The integration with Bar Coded Medication Administration application ensures reduction in dispensing and administration errors.

Remote health monitoring/ Telehealth – Rising hospitalization and treatment costs, along with developments in remote monitoring and wireless communications, have created a surge in home-based monitoring, diagnosis and treatment. The term Telehealth is more in use now a days than telemedicine as the scope of ‘Tele’ services has expanded in this era to include virtually all aspects of healthcare because of the improved infrastructure, network and communication services which was not available before. Telehealth includes Telemedicine based consults, Teleradiology, Telepathology, Telepharmacy etc. Remote health monitoring is part of expanding the scope of services towards home and remote care and overall mobility.

Customer portal – it is an engaging and convenient common platform for all services for the customer. They can book appointments, schedule their consult with the doctors, upload and download their reports and share their records. The platform enables the facility of having a health summary and a personalised health dashboard and customized alerts, family health records and wellness questionnaires. This has a huge potential for enhancing customer experience with increasing convenience and access to own records and healthcare services on offer by the healthcare organisations.

Wearable sensors and IoT devices – this segment has picked up really well in recent times with FDA approved apps and sensors hitting the market. The accuracy of devices has improved and the strict certification norms and approval from clinicians has ensured that the devices are safe to use. However with a wide array of sensors available in the market, we need to ensure seamless integration with healthcare records and the associated medical device ecosystem. The collaboration between the IoT platform vendors and the healthcare service providers will ensure that the customers get a validated and safe platform for monitoring their vital parameters in the comfort of their home with a team of paramedic and medical staff keeping a regular check on the trends of their health parameters.

AI and Machine learning – The customer today is looking for more personalised care with improved outcomes and reduced costs. AI and machine learning help in achieving the same. The creation of a predictive and cognitive analytics framework helps in providing insights into the customer treatment protocols, and linkage to safety outcomes along with useful trends on vital health parameters. This has resulted in the patients being more engaged with their health and has enabled them to actively manage the same. This has also enabled healthcare organisations to proactively alert the customers with lifestyle management tips, prescription alerts etc, with reminders to visit their physician whenever due.

Nothing comes with challenges of its own and so has the digital transformation data security, patient checks, compliance issues, not so clear regulatory guidelines, and a risk of going overboard on clinician decision support with digitization. However with new technologies coming up every day and digital technologies revolutionizing the healthcare sector, the benefits of digital transformation of healthcare far outweigh the risks and it would be very exciting to see what innovations come next and how soon it gets adopted!