By Ed Shepherdson, Chief Growth Officer, Tr3Dent
Healthcare providers are operating in a changed world since the pandemic hit, and many are looking to adapt the way they do business to accommodate industry challenges and shifting stakeholder needs. No hospital or clinic can run in isolation from groups that are influencing a part of their business, so today’s healthcare decision-makers are wise to optimize and understand their entire ecosystem to ensure that every connection has value.
With so many touch points — including employees, patients, regulators, suppliers and investors, to name a few — it’s easy to get overwhelmed and overlook critical elements along the way. Imagine being able to see all the working pieces, the hurdles, the silos, the groups and the way these connectors interact with one another all in one place. It would provide a grander picture and create an opportunity to manage the entire ecosystem. This is what digital transformation can offer.
Digital transformation looks to organize and understand the full impact of all key stakeholders involved in a business. It’s a journey made up of the vision, business goals, processes, technology, staffing and skill set development and, most importantly, it leverages all possible partners (internal and external) in one highly secure environment.
Moving Healthcare Forward
Overall, digital transformation improves cycle time and operational efficiencies. In healthcare, that means decreasing administrative backlog or manual tasks for employees and staff, streamlining intake or billing needs to enhance the experience for patients, eliminating the guesswork within processes to minimize errors and repetition, and optimizing equipment to reduce waste. It’s a holistic system upgrade that takes into consideration the patient and staff experiences, whether they’re local or remote.
In the current post-pandemic environment, many hospitals find themselves in a staff shortage. That leaves hospitals and healthcare workers having to either take on additional roles or spend a significant amount of time onboarding new staff or learning new processes. The better these processes are optimized, the easier it is for the staff to do their jobs error-free. Mistakes lead to litigation and loss of life, and no hospital wants that.
Digital transformation planning identifies gaps and opportunities, and there are three key areas where healthcare providers can significantly impact the experience of staff and patients.
1. Continuity Planning
The pandemic created a massive disruption to the medical supply chain with shortages of personal protective equipment and medical devices. With today’s digital technologies, like ecosystem modeling tools, hospitals and clinics can bolster their supply chain management processes with more robust and smarter business plans that anticipate issues. Equipped with a more thorough understanding of their ecosystems, healthcare executives can now expand their supplier networks to prepare for future supply chain failures and other disruptors to create a seamlesseness when crises arise.
The bottom line: A contingency plan mitigates the risk of supply chain crises, enhancing employee experience and safety.
2. Expanded Virtual Care
While remote monitoring and telehealth devices create new challenges, they also help bridge gaps. With on-demand, virtual healthcare services (more widely available thanks to the pandemic), providers are empowered to reach patients in “healthcare deserts” or rural areas that are medically underserved. Additionally, at-home digital health solutions can communicate more seamlessly with hospital IT infrastructure. As a result, healthcare leaders have the means to trailblaze interoperability between IT systems and personal devices that consumers already understand, trust and love — think Apple watches or Aura rings — which is making care more convenient and health-centric.
The bottom line: A strong digital ecosystem brings consistency in a tightly managed security model, protecting all information and resources.
3. Skill Set Development
When hospitals transitioned to offsite models, the use of remote monitoring devices and telehealth solutions exploded, creating unfamiliar challenges. Suddenly, healthcare professionals were required to interact with complex solutions onsite and tasked with understanding a whole new set of patient monitoring tools at home with their patients. With any transformation, the need comes for new skill sets, meaning staff members should receive training to leverage new technologies. Healthcare workers are overextended, and additional training may be a burden at first. However, the payoff is streamlined workflows, stronger safety precautions, better quality of care, higher profit, increased trust and ultimately, more lives saved.
The bottom line: Great employee experiences lead to great patient experiences.
An Improved All-Around Experience
The whole aspect of designing and visualizing the ecosystem helps identify gaps and opportunities through inclusivity and growth of corporate knowledge. When there is corporate-wide alignment with a genuinely collaborative culture, healthcare providers can execute at accelerated speeds. This allows hospitals and clinics to adapt faster than ever, and a little work upfront goes a long way in future-proofing processes against the next unprecedented event.