Navneet is the co-founder of Verita Software and a proven IT leader with experience of over two decades.
The pandemic introduced a lot of new challenges to the healthcare industry over the last couple of years, particularly in the customer experience space. With strict restrictions implemented in every healthcare facility, the doctor-patient relationship took a major hit. And a huge move towards digitization across all industries resulted in consumers expecting similar technology innovations in their healthcare services as well.
With a renewed focus on end-to-end patient journey, several trends have now started to emerge in the healthcare industry. From creating hyper-personalized engagements to using AI and predictive analytics for improving outcomes, 2022 is the year technology and healthcare are likely to converge for a more comprehensive customer-focused experience.
1. Digital Front Door (DFD) For Patients
Consumers today are rapidly adopting new technologies designed to make their lives simpler and more convenient, whether it is related to shopping, grocery, banking or healthcare. Convenience rules the day. It comes with a cost, but today’s consumer is willing to pay for it. This shift in customer expectations is changing the traditional healthcare model on its head.
A recent health study reported that 73% of those surveyed would prefer a secure online portal to simplify getting lab results, request appointments, pay medical bills and communicate with their doctor’s office. The study found: “The convenience of anytime, anywhere access is so important that almost half [of those surveyed] would consider switching doctors for a practice that offered the ability to communicate and complete important health care tasks online.”
Therefore, many healthcare organizations are now deploying a “digital front door” (DFD) to facilitate digitally optimized, omnichannel experiences for their patients. Patients can check-in online when they arrive at a healthcare facility instead of waiting in a queue for a receptionist to do it. They can make payments online, book and reschedule appointments and fill out surveys.
The digital front door is setting the foundation for a more consistent and hyper-personalized customer experience that not only enhances every interaction, but also boosts loyalty, reduces friction and drives competitive advantage.
2. Telehealth Is Here To Stay
Virtual appointments became a must-have during the pandemic, and it’s quite clear that telehealth will be a part of any healthcare solution going forward. A 2021 healthcare services report by McKinsey & Company revealed that, “New analysis indicates telehealth use has increased 38X from the pre-COVID-19 baseline.” This huge increase is proof positive that it’s a service patients now expect from their providers.
Telehealth will likely be embedded into the healthcare vernacular and become an everyday part of treating patients. But the adoption of telehealth requires additional skills and tools for practitioners. Active listening and patient-doctor communication becomes a huge priority as you move from the exam room to the Zoom room.
Commercial interest in telehealth has boomed as well, with both start-ups and established companies such as Amazon providing virtual care services now. A particular segment likely to observe high growth is behavioral and mental health, where multiple companies are already vying to provide remote counseling.
3. AI And Predictive Analytics Will Drive Better Patient Care
A new frontier is expanding/emerging in terms of improving the decision-making capability of clinicians using AI and predictive analytics.
Predictive analytics represents a huge leap forward for many healthcare organizations. Instead of simply presenting information about past events to a user, predictive analytics can now estimate the likelihood of a future outcome based on patterns observed in historical data. This is a huge advantage, as it enables healthcare providers to stay ahead of the curve in terms of care, and take informed data-driven decisions for prescribing treatments to patients.
These kinds of clinical decision-support systems also position healthcare organizations to proactively identify patients who have an elevated risk of developing complicated medical conditions, and help them avoid long-term health problems which are both costly and difficult to treat.
4. Significant Surge Likely In Medical Image Analysis Software
Medical imaging, used by radiologists, cardiologists and pathologists to diagnose a wide variety of conditions, is one of the fastest moving areas of discovery in the medical field. The complexity of the high-resolution images like X-rays, CAT scans and MRIs, can be difficult to read and analyze in a timely manner.
Recently, clinicians have turned to AI as a way to help decipher large quantities of scans, efficiently and precisely. This helps physicians better identify specific diseases like cancer, and treat them more effectively.
5. Healthcare Operations Will Witness An AI-Powered Revolution
The breadth of AI’s contributions towards transforming the healthcare industry transcend the confines of clinical care.
Most health care organizations today are suffering from what may be termed as a “data explosion.” They have a huge amount of data under their control, and it is growing exponentially. Furthermore, the medical records of patients are stored largely in the form of complicated unstructured data, making it extremely difficult to process and analyze.
AI will be used extensively to standardize medical data regardless of the format. We will see more applications geared towards operational efficiency that assist clinicians by automating mundane tasks and reduce their administrative burden, freeing them up to direct their energy and talents towards more human-centric endeavors. Automation in the supply chain and the financial management process will also help to eliminate waste and unlock the potential of human capital.
These are the five trends which are likely to shape the future of the healthcare industry in 2022.