Digital health heaven or hell?

Digital health heaven or hell?

KPMG's global report looks at the impact of digital technologies in healthcare.

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Around the world there is an acceptance that health services are at least a decade behind other industries in the use of information technology to increase productivity and quality. Unfortunately, where healthcare often has stood out is in problematic, overspent and underwhelming IT implementations, such as the UK’s National Programme for IT (NPfIT).

KPMG’s global ‘Digital Health: Heaven or Hell’ report looks at the impact of digital technologies in healthcare workforce and productivity, focusing on the possibilities by digital technologies. The growing amount of medical data available holds the clues to preventing diseases and deaths, cutting medical costs and, ultimately, predicting healthcare demands in the future. Given all these promises, it’s no surprise that big data is at the forefront of healthcare technology, but many organisations overlook its full potential.

Paul Henderson, Director of Healthcare and Analytics at KPMG UK, says: “The report profiles how we might achieve the transformation in health and wellbeing that we are all looking for. Healthcare has faced challenges as it seeks digital transformation, and some big investments and varyingly successful implementations have not yet paid off.”

The approach of most healthcare providers to extracting productivity improvements through technology so far has focused on back office efficiency and improving simple transactions, while leaving the vast majority of patient-facing activity unchanged. While the hotel, transport, retail, communications and banking industries are almost unrecognisable from 15 years ago, the promise of ‘digitally transformed’ healthcare has remained over the horizon for most systems.

The report finds that time after time, healthcare providers have struggled to weather the “digital dip,” the initial period of frustration and reduced productivity following new implementations. This period is often two years before providers see benefits materialise. Successful organisations overcame this important hurdle and focused on continuous learning and ongoing system iterations before reaching the tipping point where the investment started to pay off. Advanced technology options encourage them to actively engage and demand coordinated health services and tools. This push further empowers patients with education, self-monitoring, and decision support. With meaningful opportunities to manage their own health, patient satisfaction improves and operating costs and workloads for administrative staff are also reduced. 

Paul adds: “The report identifies seven areas of opportunity, and seven conditions which, if met, will give a greater chance of transformation being successfully achieved. When you look at organisations that have transformed the way care is delivered, as well as improving efficiency and quality, they have done a number of important things.  They have rethought the purpose of services, re-engineered how they are delivered and made the most of the opportunities that data provides. Where projects haven’t been successful, it’s where the digital technology has simply been added on top of an already inefficient analogue process, creating a heavier workload for staff. 

“Getting the balance right will enable us to be healthier and have better outcomes from treatments. Ultimately this will also improve the quality of clinical and operational decision-making.”


Click here to read the full report. 

Press contact

Helen Jackson, corporate communications, KPMG UK, tel: 077 292 090 29, email:

About KPMG

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 12,000 partners and staff.  The UK firm recorded a revenue of £1.96 billion in the year ended September 2015. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 174,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity.  Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

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