The pandemic is an impetus for the digital transformation of healthcare

Ascom (Photo: Disclosure) – Thursday, October 13, 2022

Daniel Rocha*

Reflexes of the Covid-19 pandemic are still reverberating in different areas, especially in healthcare. When it comes to the implementation of technologies, more than exact adaptation, the moment spurred the trend of digital transformation in healthcare, which has become indispensable in the strategies of modernizing the organizational structure of hospitals.

Analyzing the long-term technological evolution of healthcare institutions, it is possible to identify progress in the control and storage of information with the beginning of computerization in hospitals, in the mid-70s and 80s, however, the technology of that time had excellent computers and high acquisition and maintenance costs, with little resources that actually helped in the hospital process.

In the current scenario, when entering a computerized hospital, it is possible to observe the integration and control of processes from the reception to the surgical center. In this way, technology enables paperless care, visualization of examinations on a computer screen, with resources that facilitate the care process and clinical decision-making, for example.

Digital transformation in healthcare during the pandemic

Initially, since the introduction of the policy of isolation and social distancing during the pandemic, the need for adaptation in terms of the service model offered has become apparent. To this end, remote patient care has become a reality in most institutions.

In many of them, this was the first step towards digital transformation in healthcare, creating a strong demand for short-term investments, transformation processes, structure and technology.

Hence the search for new technological solutions such as electronic medical records and digital certification, which, in addition to guaranteeing agility and practicality in the process, bring greater security to care teams, avoiding the loss of information due to the use of physical records and adding financial and image returns to the institution.

Mapping carried out in collaboration between the National Private Hospitals (Anahp) and Brazilian Health Startups (ABSS) associations during June and July 2022 supports such benefits. Among the sector’s technological challenges, 24% of respondents cited a lack of system interoperability, especially between electronic medical records and telemedicine care records, 24% difficulties in involving clinical staff in new technologies, 24% lack of standards in the patient journey, 9% lack of standards in protocols and 9% inconsistency in billing.

In addition, when asked how much they would miss in collection due to daily bottlenecks, 37.6% of respondents stated between 1 and 3 million R$, 20.8% up to 500,000 R$, 16.8% between 3 million BRL and 5 million BRL, 12.9% between 500 thousand BRL and 1 million BRL, 7.9% between 10 million BRL and 4% between 5 million BRL and 10 million BRL.

Challenges of investing in technology in hospitals

When it comes to investment, hospitals often have to choose between software and hardware, and ideally there is a balance. That is, gradual investment not only in software, but also in equipment that supports the technology, as well as in devices that improve mobility and agility in entering information.

An example of this is the use of electronic medical records, but with paper printing, a scenario that is still common in many institutions. The ideal, however, is to switch to a 100% electronic system. In this case, the use of the medical record together with digital certification and GED (Electronic Document Management) make solutions that improve the process as a whole, not just in part.

In this sense, the market currently has technologies that can be very useful in the process of digital transformation in healthcare, because they bring more agility, control and productivity, since they automate manual processes.

100% digital signature of documents, for example, avoids paper costs and loss of important documentation for medical record control. There are also solutions that simplify and integrate invoices into the system, avoiding wear and tear and manual entries, reducing errors and operational failures.

Therefore, technologies like these facilitate patient care and create greater availability of teams to provide services from anywhere, breaking down the barriers of distance and time. Not to mention the possibility of a safe service, avoiding the risk of infection, either from Covid-19 or other viruses.

Technology is still rare in healthcare facilities

Faced, often, with incompatibility of software or investments, healthcare institutions still lack the implementation of tablets and smartphones in daily life, which enable continuity in digital care without the need for larger equipment such as laptops and computers.

In addition, it is worth mentioning the bus tools for various integrations that institutions may need, which still have many problems with the delivery of information quality or even a lack of content. These bottlenecks, in turn, become fluid as healthcare facilities realize the need to invest efforts in implementing solutions focused on the integration and deployment of resources. In addition to optimizing the patient experience, they work to improve processes and information quality, favoring the gains of digital transformation in healthcare.

*Daniel Rocha is the CEO of Digisystem, a 100% Brazilian company with 31 years of experience in specialized IT services.