A lot of hospitals and healthcare facilities are now undergoing digital transformation. For those that haven’t yet, it’s either being considered or they are only starting to be open to it. A digital health system or digital healthcare technology can help the industry grow and improve. They can take healthcare services further—where patients, nurses, doctors, practitioners, researchers, and other professionals are all benefiting from technological advances. And that is why SOLUM Group has decided to expand into this field.
What is Digital Healthcare?
Digital healthcare refers to a broad concept or system that utilizes digital information and advanced technology for healthcare and other health-related services. Digital healthcare solutions are now gaining traction and being introduced to the healthcare sector one by one. This is because of the significant value it brings to the health industry.
Digital healthcare can lead to better quality healthcare services, optimized operations, personalized medicine and treatment for patients, lower healthcare costs, better revenue, and more.
What are examples of digital health technology and devices?
Digital healthcare is making an impact, whether people are ready for it or not. Here are a few examples of digital healthcare:
SaaS (software as a service) solutions, such as a digital hospital system or management, can help medical facilities achieve maximum efficiency and high performance. Healthcare software can optimize workflows and processes, including those that are administrative, operational, compliance, and medical in nature. SaaS solutions leverage multiple technologies like the cloud, AI, automation, sensors, and other devices or tools so that the whole system can come together.
Digital labels replace the traditional paper labels in laboratories, nurseries, pharmacies, supplies, and more. These digital labels are much more efficient and faster to use. They can provide accurate information, which is necessary in the healthcare sector. Electronic shelf label solutions, like the SOLUM ESL, can take shelf labeling in hospitals and healthcare facilities to another level. This can optimize a lot of processes and ensure accuracy across all departments.
Electronic medical and health records (EMR/EHR)
Electronic medical records (EMRs) are digital versions of the paper charts and medical history of a patient. This contains the medical and treatment histories of the patients in one practice. Meanwhile, electronic health records (EHRs) focus on the overall health status of a patient. Both EMR and EHR are beneficial when it comes to:
- Tracking healthcare and medical data over time
- Identifying and scheduling checkups
- Checking patient status after blood pressure readings, vaccinations, etc
- Making informed decisions about a patient
Telemedicine and telehealth
Coping with a global pandemic also made way for telemedicine and telehealth services. Telemedicine leverages telecommunication and digital services to provide clinical services to patients remotely. Telehealth is the delivery of healthcare and other health-related services through digital information and communication methods. These services have brought a lot of advantages for patients in remote areas, patients with vulnerable or compromised immune systems, and more.
Mobile health and wearable technologies
Digital healthcare can also be implemented as wearable technology. Wearable healthcare devices and their mobile applications can benefit a lot of patients and users. Smartwatches, fitness bands, earbuds, and more can be used to track and monitor various health parameters of users. This includes heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, sleep quality, and even brain activity. Patients can use mobile technology and wearable devices to personally monitor their health.
Similar to wearable technology, advanced biosensors can help patients dive into their health status. SOLUM Group, for example, has developed the Ear X Smart Earbuds (formerly Biosensor TWS) as well as the Brainwave Sensor that can be used as healthcare devices. The Biosensor TWS can help elevate fitness and health. Meanwhile, the Brainwave Sensor can help monitor brain activity and improve mental states. This kind of advanced digital health technology can make an impact in the healthcare sector.
Augmented reality (AR)
Augmented reality, or AR, can also revolutionize healthcare services. AR is an interactive experience that enhances the real world with computer-generated perceptual information or visual overlays. This means AR can enhance patient and doctor education, surgical visualization and operations, as well as disease simulation.
What are the benefits of digital healthcare to hospitals?
Digital healthcare technology and digital hospital systems are flexible and versatile. It can be leveraged in various situations and applications, and lead to various benefits that will impact the healthcare industry in multiple ways. Here are the known benefits of digital healthcare in hospitals and facilities:
It can help improve patient flow
Digital systems can help improve patient flow in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Most hospitals nowadays, especially post-COVID, have trouble with patient management and making room for new patients. Digital health technology like automation, algorithms, hospital bed management dashboards, and more can lead to better planning and communication across different wards or departments.
It can help with staff management
Digital health technology can also contribute to better staffing and resource management. This is because systems can provide analytics, study multiple shifts, provide absentee rates, and more. All of these can help with better staff management in hospitals and healthcare facilities. With this kind of help, there’s no need to rely on text messages, unnecessary phone calls, and multiple spreadsheets to make staffing decisions. It can also be used to figure out solutions for shift emergencies, discrepancies, and more.
It can give instant access to patient health data
Accessing patient health data is important when diagnosing or treating patients. Fortunately, digital healthcare can make this process a lot smoother. With new tools and systems in place, healthcare professionals would be able to access an extensive view of patient health and records. This would increase efficiency across the patient’s medical journey, as well as help the doctor’s professional opinion.
It can aid in accurate diagnosis and treatment
Various healthcare devices can also help medical professionals accurately diagnose patients and provide the best possible treatment. For instance, brainwave sensors like the SOLUM Brainwave Sensor can help professionals unlock and learn more about a patient’s brain activity. This would help optimize their research and monitoring, so they can diagnose any cognitive problems, brain diseases, and so much more.
It can help with personal tracking and monitoring
Wearable healthcare devices can be used by patients to track and monitor their health even when they’re not in the vicinity of a healthcare facility. It allows for a more personal approach to their health. They would be able to track vital signs such as heart rate, temperature, and even posture. This also allows them to be more involved and aware of wellness-related activities, which can help them lead healthier lives.
It can help streamline operations
Of course, digital health technology is here to streamline operations in hospitals and healthcare facilities. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), these digital health technologies can help reduce inefficiencies, improve access, reduce costs, increase quality, and make medicine more personalized for patients. All of these can improve healthcare facilities, and give people a chance for better healthcare services.
It can impact supply chain management
In the United States, larger hospitals with 250 beds or more spend an average of $64.4 million in medical and surgical supply costs. Supply chain and inventory management involving these medical supplies can improve with the implementation of digital health technology. These can reduce process costs, strengthen security, increase revenue, avoid unnecessary costs, and more.
What are the challenges of implementing digital healthcare?
As beneficial as digital healthcare is, there are still quite a few bumps when embracing this modern solution. Take a look at some of the challenges of implementing digital healthcare:
- Cost of the transition - Of course, the cost of transitioning is one of the main challenges of digital healthcare. Digital systems and devices for healthcare can be expensive. It’s a cost-effective solution and will help hospitals and facilities save money in the long run. However, the upfront cost can be quite significant.
- Data privacy and security concerns - Digital health technology also brings data privacy and security concerns. Digital systems and devices are complex and can be vulnerable. In 2021, the biggest cybersecurity breaches in healthcare history were recorded, with over 22.6 million patients affected by healthcare data breaches overall.
- Scalability - As more hospitals, facilities, and professionals adapt to new technology, scalability will become a priority. They would need to ensure that digital solutions can be widely implemented across facilities and patients. The technology would need to be able to handle a huge amount of data, users, and any new requirements.
- Low digital expertise - Implementing digital health technology means using a lot of modern solutions and advanced software. Unfortunately, not all healthcare professionals and workers have high digital literacy and technological expertise. Digital expertise is needed so devices and platforms can be utilized properly and streamline operations. This means people would need to upskill, attend seminars or workshops, or more.
- The role of artificial intelligence (AI) - Artificial intelligence will probably find its way towards digital healthcare as well. AI has already made a big impact on a lot of industries in 2023. Although it can bring a lot of advantages, the biggest issue is that there are no established standards for verifying and validating AI systems for digital healthcare yet. This can lead to errors, patient harm, or inaccurate data.
- Reluctance or hesitation about the transition - As with every technological advancement and solution, there will be reluctance or hesitation when it comes to the change. Digital healthcare will most likely disrupt the existing system, which will lead to concerns or unwillingness to switch to this new technology.
Digital hospital systems and digital healthcare tools are changing the way people approach or provide healthcare services and how people take care of themselves. It’s here to impact not just the industry, but each patient’s life as well.