Transforming the Healthcare Experience with Emerging Technologies

3 min read

Steven Wishart

Steven Wishart | October 03, 2023

This originally appeared in Health Tech Digital on August 31, 2023.

The healthcare digital transformation is underway, creating a seismic shift in the doctor-patient experience. Already, it’s an essential tool for optimizing patient care, enhancing efficiency, and enabling tailored treatments, but the future applications are even more extensive.

This evolution is driving healthcare institutions to consider a range of technology solutions to improve access to medical data and streamline operations while balancing the compliance requirements of ever-shifting regulation frameworks.

Healthcare providers worldwide recognize the importance of modernizing their offerings and leveraging new technologies to provide patients with the best care possible. The digital transformation represents a significant step forward, as well as a significant investment on a global scale.

For example, in June 2022, the National Health Service (NHS) committed to making a sector-wide digital transformation, laying the foundations for providers and patients to give and receive virtual care. This includes £2 billion to digitize the NHS and at least £150 million to support social care, ensuring the system is equipped to deliver the benefits of the transformation to everyone.

To provide patients and providers with the best experiences, it‘s critical for healthcare institutions to establish a comprehensive, intentional strategy to support the ongoing digital transformation at all levels. Providers must take advantage of new technologies from intake to treatment to healthcare communications or risk falling behind.

Emerging Technologies, Evolving Healthcare

Emerging healthcare technology touches all aspects of the medical field, from research and diagnostics to personalizing treatment plans and managing schedules for patients and staff. Some emerging technologies may already be familiar from other aspects of daily life but have additional benefits for the healthcare industry. These include:

1. Cloud computing

2. Internet of Things (IoT)

3. Artificial intelligence (AI)

4. Machine learning (ML)

5. Natural language processing (NLP)

6. Omnichannel media

As healthcare networks continue to digitize their procedures and practice virtual care, these technologies will enhance the patient experience and improve workflows and efficiency for providers.

An example is a patient using a wearable IoT sensor to monitor their vital signs at home. That data can be stored in the cloud and processed with AI analytics to identify patterns. ML would match those patterns to a potential diagnosis and transmit that information to a doctor in plain language using NLP. A unified communications solution seamlessly integrating with other healthcare applications gives physicians and other caregivers immediate access to results via a mobile app for efficient and comprehensive care.

That’s just a small-scale use case. Ultimately these tools will allow doctors and researchers to analyze vast amounts of diagnostic and treatment information more quickly and accurately than any human could. AI and predictive analytics can help forecast health trends by looking at patterns in certain populations and predicting long- and short-term outcomes.

While some of these technologies, such as NLP, are still nascent and relatively limited, implementing the basics now will allow healthcare institutions to take advantage of their possibilities in the future.

Improving Patient Care with Automation

With the continuing pressure on resources and staffing, effective strategies to manage patient flow and coordinate data can be immensely helpful. An emerging trend gaining popularity among healthcare providers is the use of automated systems to help streamline processes and enable more precise delivery of patient care.

Most healthcare institutions dedicate a significant portion of staff time to administrative responsibilities like writing reports, sending communications, and processing records. Automated systems can quickly and accurately manage these tasks, allowing for more effective allocation of employee talent.

Automation also improves the speed of diagnoses and treatments. In the example above, the emerging technologies are part of an automated chain of events. Once the patient’s monitoring device reaches a certain threshold, each step is triggered until the final report reaches the doctor.

Automated processes allow providers to spend more time caring for their patients while removing opportunities for human error and reducing overhead costs. With streamlined workflows and faster treatment time, medical staff can focus on delivering quality care to their patients.

Maintaining Compliance and Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is essential to keeping patient data secure – and remaining compliant with industry regulations. Healthcare providers need to be aware of the challenges they face regarding cybersecurity.

Institutions of all sizes are at risk. Major healthcare institutions like the World Health Organization and the US Department of Health and Human Services were the targets of recent failed cyberattacks, illustrating the importance of maintaining cybersecurity measures.

Cyberattacks, including malware, ransomware, phishing, and hacking, can cause disruption at all levels of the healthcare process. Attacks on healthcare networks can:

1. Infect computer networks

2. Steal patient data

3. Corrupt records

4. Shut down medical devices

5. Force doctors to halt technology-assisted procedures

Over 50% of connected devices in a typical hospital have critical risks, giving hackers an easy way in. Even if the attack isn’t successful, it can still cause major damage to an organization’s reputation.

Proper IT protocols, including network segmentation, regular software updates, and secure cloud- or premise-based data management, are critical for cybersecurity. Even something as simple as sending automated reminders to staff to update their passwords minimizes one of the most common risks to device security.

Part of a provider’s responsibility in implementing new technology in their practices is to protect patient privacy. To gain patient confidence, they must select partners and solutions with features that maintain compliance with evolving security, privacy, and anti-fraud regulations, including PCI DSS, GDPR, and HIPAA.

Modernizing Healthcare Communications with Mitel

Mitel helps healthcare providers navigate the digital transformation with unified communications solutions that use the latest technology for efficiency and security. Mitel’s Healthcare Services Solutions are compliant, cost-effective, and, most importantly, industry trusted.

Thousands of healthcare organizations worldwide trust Mitel to improve the patient experience. Contact a Mitel expert to learn how to modernize your systems for today’s technology and lay the groundwork for a digital future.

Steven Wishart

Steven WishartHead of Healthcare, UK

Working with the NHS for over 25 years, Steve brings a wealth of knowledge and experience delivering and advising on how communication solutions and services meet the needs of the UK’s Healthcare service. Understanding the critical demands of the NHS delivering flexible, secure, and resilient technology is at the core of Mitel’s and Steve’s vision to support our NHS and help them continue to deliver world-class patient care.

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