Digital health: heaven or hell?

Digital health: heaven or hell?

Many healthcare systems are behind the curve in making effective use of technology. But smart healthcare organizations are using technology to transform the way care is delivered and realizing considerable gains in efficiency and quality as a result. This is the finding of a new report from KPMG International, “Digital health: heaven or hell? How technology can drive or derail the quest for efficient, high quality healthcare.” The report highlights key healthcare trends and opportunities, with seven ways technology can reduce costs and improve patient experience and quality of care.

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Patients, long passive, have a new role to play in their care. 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. 

Factors driving successful healthcare IT implementations

While the healthcare industry has made significant investments in digital systems, it has more often stood out for high profile technology failures. 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 organizations overlook its full potential. Healthcare providers that have invested in data analysis are realizing reduced costs with early intervention and proactive, targeted care. 

Symptoms of doomed healthcare implementations

While there are substantial gains in terms of productivity and health outcomes to be had, the history of frequent disappointment and failure show that digital technologies will not deliver these improvements on their own. To realize true healthcare transformation, providers must start with finding new ways of working. Putting patients first and inventing with little regard for current constraints and legacies are critical to success. 

Similarly, the KPMG report finds that time after time, healthcare providers 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 materialize. Successful organizations 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.  

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