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- The pandemic has accelerated the ongoing digital transformation in healthcare.
- The following is an overview of an Insider Intelligence Health report, The digital health ecosystem. You can buy this report here.
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The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation underway in healthcare, and patients and providers have seen the benefits of new technologies and virtual solutions. telehealth appointment, remote patient monitoring services and modified insurance offers have brought quality care to consumers at a faster and less expensive rate.
But incumbent healthcare establishments should keep an eye out for big tech companies encroaching on their space, as companies like Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft try to influence consumers of traditional healthcare players through approaches technology driven and consumer driven.
Below, we review ongoing trends and transformations within the healthcare ecosystem, and outline what traditional healthcare players can do to stay ahead of big competitors in healthcare. technology.
Top Digital Trends in the Healthcare Ecosystem
What is digital health? While the healthcare industry was slowly moving in terms of digital solutions, COVID-19 has upended the entire healthcare ecosystem, including insurance, healthcare delivery, and pharmaceutical spaces. Providers have been pushed to embrace technology – including telehealth, remote patient monitoring (RPM), and artificial intelligence (AI) – to effectively treat patients remotely.
As a result, insurers have had to overcome barriers preventing patients and physicians from using telemedicine, such as co-payments and unclear reimbursement pathways.
Healthcare delivery has quickly shifted to remote care alternatives as hospitals and other healthcare businesses have been forced to reduce non-emergency visits. Telehealth adoption rates before the pandemic hovered around just 11%, but that percentage jumped to 36% in August 2020, according to CivicScience.
Pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have taken center stage amid the pandemic as leaders in vaccine development. And the rapid adoption of digital health technologies will continue to work in their favor as they try to tackle new strains of the virus. The use of AI allows pharmaceutical companies to speed up the drug discovery process and, therefore, save money.
Factors that are fueling the digital transformation of healthcare
- Lower cost: Before the pandemic, 54% of American adults said they would use telehealth if it meant saving money, according to Amwell. And with providers looking to see the continued benefits of telehealth investments, they are likely to maintain lower costs in the future.
- Accessibility: Consumer demand for hyper-convenient skincare has skyrocketed, and almost a third of millennials say that having a medical examination is impractical. With millennials making up the bulk of the U.S. adult population, providers are ramping up convenient offerings like virtual care and online digital health services.
- Value-Based Models of Care: Insurers are driving the shift to value-based care (VBC), forcing providers to focus on positive patient outcomes rather than the number of services provided. And digital tools, like AI-based analytics, help optimize care without compromising cost.
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How the health ecosystem has been affected by COVID-19
The “new normal” in healthcare is largely driven by telehealth and digital technology. More than a third of consumers were using telehealth in August last year. And while the uptick in adoption was driven primarily by stay-at-home orders and social distancing, telehealth is likely to remain popular in the future.
Additionally, telehealth is a possible solution to the looming shortage of providers—the United States could experience a shortage of 122,000 doctors by 2032 and 670,000 healthcare workers, including nurses, by 2025.
Telehealth has also proven effective in reducing medical expenses and limiting unnecessary hospital visits. For this reason, providers will likely continue to offer telehealth services as a means of delivering high-quality remote care long after the pandemic. In addition to benefiting healthcare providers, telehealth will also be a popular option among consumers as adoption continues to increase.
As mentioned in Insider Intelligence’s Digital Health Ecosystem Report, demand for virtual care will remain high as 83% of American adults say they will want to use telehealth even after the pandemicaccording to a Doctor.com survey.
Health Ecosystem Forecast for 2021
While some aspects of the health ecosystem are difficult to predict, one thing is certain: digital health is here to stay. Cash-strapped provider organizations will likely still have to rely on telemedicine to derive revenue from patients who have grown accustomed to the convenience of telemedicine in recent months.
Another item to watch this year is data sharing mandates from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS has rolled out mandates to improve interoperability between providers, payers and health systems, but it has put compliance on hold to give health care entities time to recover from the impacts of the pandemic.
As a result of these mandates, Insider Intelligence expects interoperability service providers that facilitate the standardization and integration of patient data will see increased attention from hospitals.
Another slow but steady trend making its way into the digital healthcare space is digital therapeutic (DTx). The pandemic-induced virtual care boom has catapulted DTx into the limelight, causing massive spikes in adoption of DTx tools.