Articles
14
min of reading
September 28, 2018

Digital Transformation in Health Sector: Strategies for hospitals and Operators

Nicholas Gimenes
Leader of Growth & Product Marketing
Passionate about using technology and data to leverage digital strategies
More about the author

Digital Healthcare: time has come!

Digital transformation in health has arrived. We are witnessing the expansion of healthtechs, mHealth apps, wearable for health devices, blockchain security, telemedicine projects, and discussions on interoperability.

Major technological drivers (Cloud, Mobile, APIs, Big Data, AI, IoT), which have revolutionized different segments and promoted Netflix, Uber, marketplaces, fintechs and digital banks – are enabling new businesses in hospitals, health insurance operators, laboratories, clinics, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical industries.

These technologies are increasingly present in daily life and incite new behaviors in people, involving new strategies for health companies.We can no longer spend time printing slips, test results, prescription, records, tickets, and tax invoices, asking people with illnesses to go from one place to another, forming lines, writing forms, recounting the history of their problems from the beginning, entering data into systems that do not dialogue with one another, and obtaining reactive instead of preventive actions.

In this paper-based model, in addition to the waste of manual tasks, there is a greater opportunity for errors and rework. In the case of healthcare, by dealing directly with human lives, errors can have serious consequences for both patients and service providers.In addition, the increase in the number of elderly citizens and the reduction of the workforce in the coming years will put greater pressure on healthcare costs, which will open opportunities for companies that offer solutions to meet this demand.

According to the PwC report, digital transformation imposes more than changes in processes, but also changes in strategies, as it will enable new entrants to obtain a large portion of the revenues of the traditional U.S. health market, with bid disputes centered on the user and with a strong use of technology, transparency, convenience, prevention, and loyalty building.

These challenges are already faced in companies in the financial, insurance, e-commerce and media sectors. Digital transformation in these industries has promoted not only efficiency gains, integrations and innovations in security, but also paved the way for new business models, such as platformization and open innovation initiatives.

Much of the necessary infrastructure is already available for professionals and patients, such as broadband and smartphones. According to PwC, Brazil could save close to $14 billion with the use of mobile healthcare, almost 35% of the healthcare budget in 2017.

The benefits of Digital Health are not restricted to users of services, but also to ensuring that professionals are less overloaded with paperwork or in the search for information, being thus able to act remotely in specific cases and reduce unnecessary visits in the healthcare centers.

According to this report by Deloitte, the use of mobile solutions in health services, in addition to reducing bureaucratic work, reduces trips to first-aid stations and decreases the time of hospitalizations and the use of hospital materials.

Major SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud) technological trends have already revolutionized a number of segments – and things will not be any different in healthcare.

All businesses will be digital.

How can healthcare companies (hospitals, laboratories, health insurance operators, etc.) exploit opportunities and confront new competitors?

We have separated a few strategies that can guide your digital transformation: Integration of Internal Services, Collaborator Ecosystem, Digital Experiences, Platformization, and Open Innovation. Let’s learn more about them:

Digital Strategies for Hospitals, Laboratories and Health Insurance Operators

Internal service integration

Most healthcare organizations have a complex environment of standards (HL7 FHIR, OpenEHR, TISS / TUSS, etc.) and information systems (ERP, CRM, EMR, Inventory Control, etc.), which do not always offer adequate accessibility or do not converse with one another.

Intercommunication through an API management platform and a microservice-based architecture provides the decoupling of tasks and enables systems to work in a coordinated manner, being consumed as services.

Through the APIs, they share data and trigger actions, avoiding the duplication of features and bringing advantages such as greater integration, efficiency, agility, flexibility, governance, security, and scalability.

Predictive analytics software can also be used to evaluate the data history and send notifications about the possibility of having overloads in processes, ensuring a more preventive and less reactive management.In turn, the use of mobile devices facilitates the entry and consultation of data, providing information to professionals and patients at the time they need it, enabling also remote services, in accordance with modern security practices.

Examples:

Collaborator Ecosystem and Platformization

Have you already heard about the Uberization of Health? Through an API management platform, we can see companies positioning themselves as platforms between patients and clinics, health insurances, laboratories, pharmacies, and professionals.A microservice architecture and exposure through REST or GraphQLAPIs enable a secure and scalable integration with collaborators, promoting what we refer to as Digital Ecosystems.

This integration with collaborators enables the combined operation between hospitals, health insurance operators, laboratories, professionals, and emergency units by sharing information, offering a complete health service, and stimulating user loyalty.

Interesting examples of collaborator ecosystems are interoperability networks, such as The Sequoia Project – Carequality and the CommonWell Health Alliance.Example:

Digital Experiences and Omnichannel

Based on applications for mobile devices, it is possible to improve user experience and make it easier to set appointments, view tests, prescribe medicines, access health history and insights, obtain remote care, receive preventive alerts and points based on actions (gamification and loyalty programs), trigger emergencies, and make payments.It is also possible to import data collected by sensors and wearables to assist in obtaining diagnoses and treatments.

One driver of these applications will be the National IoT Plan for healthcare, to be launched in October 2017.

Imagine how this convenience can make life easier for users! No lines, no unnecessary trips, no lost records, no filling of forms, no redoing of tests. It is crucial that there is consistency in the service in physical and digital channels, which we refer to as the omnichannel strategy, which is being implemented in the retail and banking sectors and can be applied in health services.

Examples:

Open Innovation, Hackathons and API-as-a-Product

A complete API Management Platform provides a dev portal module with documentation and test sandbox environment, enabling users to develop their own ideas of applications and new businesses through services provided by their APIs, which also makes feasible the implementation of Open Innovation initiatives and Hackathons.

In addition, the digitization of health data from thousands of patients provides the basis for aggregate analysis (that is, non-individual analysis, maintaining access to data of individuals restricted only to professionals and their patients). This data can generate useful insights and be marketed as datasets (data products) or as accesses via APIs (API-as-a-Product).

Example:

APIs are essential for the Digital Transformation of Health

APIs are connectors that, in a standardized way and applying security mechanisms, make possible the agile and scalable integration between legacy software, databases, and applications.

Through an API platform, it is possible to combine features of different systems and offer them as services, controlling access permissions, managing the location of resources, collecting metrics, and triggering coordinated actions.

Digital transformation in health requires that the legacy systems in the backend be compatible with new technologies and devices, and APIs are crucial in this process.

In addition to the integration and orchestration of IT services, APIs favor the monetization of data, creation of new collaborations, improvement of user experience, generation of business insights, and promotion of innovations.

Want to learn more about how to implement you Digital Strategies?

Let’s talk about it.

Fill the form below and we will get in touch ;)

In the next publication of the Digital Transformation in Health series, we will talk about how CIOs and IT managers can unlock Interoperability in Health and the expansion of Healthtechs.

References about Digital Transformation in Health Sector:

Thanks for reading!