Digital transformation in healthcare remains complex and challengingMany organisations embarking on the journey of transformation in healthcare do so from the perspective of the technology and all too often focus on transferring current ways of working says Sam Shah, director of digital development at NHS England.

The famous Henry Ford quote seems just as true today as it was at the time, about wanting faster horses. I know from my own experience when I have asked business sponsors, managers and clinicians about problems or pain points they often reach for the nearest solution within sight. This approach misses the deeper technology requirements and fundamentally isn’t really transformative.

The hard part of digital transformation in healthcare is challenging how we work right now and establishing why we maintain the status quo. In other sectors such as retail, travel and banking, society has benefited from a very data driven technological approach. In those sectors they’ve redefined the customer experience in a way that hasn’t been realised in healthcare.

Healthcare is ready for digital disruption

Whilst progress has been made in digital healthcare, it hasn’t necessarily been transformational and in many cases is a simple conversion of analogue to electronic. Certainly the areas of eReferral, ePrescribing and eHealth Records haven’t undergone revolutionary change, they’re simply the transference of what were analogue forms and processes into electronic versions of the same. In healthcare transformation so many processes remain ripe for digital disruption.

We’re heading into the post-digital era where healthcare organisations will need to adopt new and emerging technology. These new technologies will drive change in an environment where the sector already has a multitude of existing digital tools. The new technology that is already appearing in healthcare includes artificial intelligence, distributed ledger technology, extended reality and quantum computing.

Most industries that have undergone digital transformation have done so by adopting a data-driven approach. In healthcare we’re entering an era where data will be generated at scale. Through genomics, IoT and citizen facing applications, alongside traditional health data, new data points will emerge with patterns that were not previously identifiable. This also provides us with an unparalleled opportunity to prevent illness and offer treatment with much greater precision.

Other sectors have all been through this disruptive change whether that was consumer banking, mobile telecommunications or online retail, they’ve all had to overcome new entrants to the market that are not part of legacy, but more importantly these new entrants will redefine healthcare as we know it.




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