Necessity is the mother of invention.
That proverb might be a little old, but it’s something that seems very clear as health services across the globe struggle to adapt to the changing demands of the coronavirus crisis.
Despite significant pressures placed on the NHS and other medical communities, there’s been a rapid acceleration of digital transformation across many health-focused areas in the UK. Digital innovation that may have taken years or months in the past have integrated into practice in a matter of days or weeks. People are rapidly responding to the requirements of the moment.
The COVID-19 response makes it clear that when disaster strikes, every industry needs to be ready for a significant change. The good news? The technology is already available to help us evolve.
Here’s how the healthcare sector will transform to suit the impact of COVID-19.
From telemedicine to home therapies
Healthcare innovators throughout the decades have turned to technology as a solution for fixing various crucial problems. Digital health, telehealth, and virtual healthcare management strategies stand out as the future of the medical landscape. However, the digital transformation process hasn’t always been as rapid as we’d hoped.
While COVID-19 is a terrible experience for all of us to live with, it’s also pushed countless companies to move more rapidly than they would have previously. Fortunately, patients in the healthcare landscape are showing an increased willingness to embrace telehealth and other virtual services.
According to one study from Deloitte, 60% of millennials support telehealth as a solution for replacing surgery visits. 83% of patients feel that they receive good quality care from telehealth solutions. Additionally, 74% of people say they’re open to the idea of a virtual health visit.
Currently, we’re seeing governments relax social distancing laws and regulations, but remote care continues to be a valuable solution both now, and in the future. This is particularly true when we consider the fact that most governments are unlikely to revert to the strategies of years gone by.
Collaboration and team tools: working together
It’s not just patients and medical professionals that are working together in different ways these days. Even before the coronavirus pandemic made working from home an essential option for many companies, various innovators were exploring the possibility of remote work.
When nurses, specialists, and doctors can’t always work together in the same combined environment, they need another way to stay connected. Digital tools like Nice Network Teams Talk offer an excellent option here. With Teams Talk, employees can connect through instant chat, voice, and video at the click of a button.
These collaborative tools also make it easier to share information on patient cases through secure file and screen sharing. Through suitable software, companies are recreating all the advantages of a thriving office space in a digital environment.
Solutions like Nice Network Teams Talk provide a convenient way to keep people connected through business phone numbers too. This allows for a more professional strategy for communication and interaction in the digital landscape.
The digitally empowered patient
At the same time, the modern patient is more digitally empowered than ever. The number of people who have internet access and mobile-enabled support today is rising at an incredible rate. The nationwide survey conducted by Pew Research found that 1 in 3 adults go online to learn more about a medical condition.
As customers become more comfortable with life online, we search for doctor and hospital information online before we reach out for help. Even after we have a diagnosis, we turn to the internet for more guidance on how to understand that issue, and what kind of treatment we need.
In 2020, Forrester issued a report on the empowered healthcare patient, and found that consumers are more resourceful than ever before. Empowered customers are opening to piloting new products and brands. In 2019, 56% of US adults revealed an appetite for novel experiences, and 62% said that they were willing to try non-standard healthcare services.
Empowered customers are also reaching for sophisticated devices to enhance their efficiency and productivity. Twenty years ago, the majority of adults in the US didn’t have a computer, but now, more than 20% of patients are interested in using tools like smart blood pressure monitors and speakers.
Bringing new devices into the healthcare space
In today’s healthcare environment, every EMR system comes with applications that access protected health information. Unfortunately, according to the Verizon report, only 14% of organisations have implemented basic cybersecurity practices and mitigation strategies.
The age of Covid-19 has prompted an influx of new technology tools to stream into the medical landscape. Increasingly, companies are using mobile devices and other must-have tools to streamline care and patient experience. These devices don’t always use the latest version of their respective operating systems, which results in additional security gaps.
If healthcare employees are going to rely more heavily on their own devices and mobile devices to support the digitally empowered patient, then Mobile Device Management (MDM) software will be essential. MDM includes operating system configuration, remote access for troubleshooting, and device provisioning. Other security features include:
- Automatic logoff and lock functionality
- Authentication for using or unlocking mobile devices
- Regular security updates and patches
- Data encryption and anti-malware or antivirus software
- Remote wiping capabilities
- Privacy screens
- Secure Wi-Fi and virtual private networks
Companies of all sizes in the healthcare space also need to consistently reduce risks posed by third-party apps. This is a common concern in the BYOD landscape. Prohibiting access to certain third-party applications that often appear as insecure or dangerous might be the ideal option here.
It may also be important to ensure that all devices a healthcare team has access to, both inside and outside of the professional landscape, are properly encrypted. This will mean that anyone who comes into contact with a stolen or lost device will not be able to access stored data.
The future of healthcare technology
For companies responding to Covid-19, the first point of focus has been around improving the connections between patients and doctors in a time of crisis. Even in a landscape where people can’t safely meet face-to-face, healthcare providers must continue to interact with patients and support them in protecting their wellbeing.
The evolution of various communication tools over the years means that accessing new forms of communication is much easier today. Video and audio conferencing solutions are available, along with various systems for file and content sharing.
The future of healthcare technology is likely to go beyond this focus on communication and take new opportunities to the next level. Forrester predicts a hockey stick style adoption curve for virtual care in the United States – something that’s likely to occur in the UK too.
As video conferencing and remote health solutions explode, the rise of wearable devices to assist with monitoring patient conditions will increase too. People will be able to do everything from taking their blood pressure, to conducting other crucial tests at home.
IoT and automation could even simplify the process of updating patient documents, without requiring excess input from administrators and nurses. This ensures that personnel in the healthcare environment have the freedom to focus on the things that matter most.
What’s next for healthcare?
Already at Nice Network, we’re working with healthcare providers and clinics to ensure that they can continue to deliver the support that their patients need during this difficult time. Some health experts will be able to invest in more advanced tools than others. However, every organisation will need to spend more time and money on building the best possible communication strategy.
If you’re wondering how your business can evolve to suit the rising demands of the digital landscape, then you’re in the right place. Reach out to Nice Network today for more insights into everything from handling the security risks of remote work, to setting up new communication standards.