As the demand for and cost of healthcare continues to rise, digital technologies are increasingly recognised as an essential part of the solution to overburdened healthcare systems. With the potential to enable effective integration of services, improve patient outcomes and deliver safer, more cost-effective care, the need to embrace these technologies is clear.
The adoption of digital technologies has dramatically increased across nearly all industries. Among patients and caregivers, there is an expectation that the healthcare ecosystem work with the same standard of digitalisation as other sectors, such as travel, banking or retail. And while healthcare organisations have made significant advancements in adopting digital technologies, several emerging trends are now encouraging a more rapid behavioural shift toward the use of eHealth solutions.
– Digital trends have driven new possibilities in healthcare, changing diagnostic processes, improving treatment experience and outcome for patients, increasing information sharing across the sector, and expanding access to healthcare services, said Glenn Kenneth Bruun, Omda’s Chief Strategy Officer. – These trends strengthen the need for niche eHealth software, like Omda’s, that facilitate the specialised processes and workflows used by healthcare professionals and organisations.
Within every healthcare setting, there are clinical processes that require specific, detailed eHealth solutions to support their particular workflows. Whether in hospital, primary care office, laboratory, or any other healthcare setting, medical professionals rely on these specialised software solutions to provide high quality care to their patients.
These eHealth technologies focused on specialised workflows within hospitals and healthcare settings offer some of the greatest potential for improving the quality of healthcare and transforming how it is delivered.
Three important trends driving the adoption of specialised eHealth solutions are the rise in telemedicine and connected healthcare solutions, the demand for system connectivity and interoperability, and advances in cloud, big data and clinical decision support.
The rise in telemedicine and connected healthcare solutions
The adoption of telemedicine and connected healthcare solutions has grown significantly over the past few years. Recently, the emergence of COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated this trend, forcing healthcare organisations and providers to quickly adapt to delivering care remotely.
– We’ve seen a rapid upscaling of technology-enabled remote healthcare – from e-prescriptions, to virtual appointments, to the increased use of patient-centred self-care platforms, said Kjetil Sanders, Omda’s Chief Technology Officer. – Almost overnight, in-person primary care went virtual, and non-urgent services transitioned to digital remote care tools.
While the recent environment has accelerated the push towards remote care and connected health platforms, proponents of telemedicine health have long argued that a majority of regular doctor’s office visits could be replaced by remote monitoring and virtual appointments.
– Telemedicine solutions have the potential to significantly decrease cost and improve the quality of care by preventing hospitalisation and providing care without patients having to visit the hospital, said Sanders. – They also make healthcare data more accessible to patients and improve access to care, no longer requiring patients to take time off work or wait for long periods at the doctor’s office or hospital. Access to remote care is especially important for people with mobility problems or those living in remote communities.
The rise in remote care and monitoring means secure access to healthcare information is critical. Information sharing and collaboration from within a healthcare organisation, across healthcare providers or regions, and between healthcare professionals and their patients, is key to unlocking the benefits of these technologies.
System connectivity and interoperability
Today, it is common for a patient to receive healthcare across multiple settings – from primary care clinics, hospitals, labs and other specialists, with each visit generating valuable health information. For this health information to be useful, it must be accurate, accessible and exchangeable between healthcare providers, organisations, and patients.
The importance of system connectivity and interoperability is recognised by healthcare organisations and governments across Europe. Many countries have set this as a high priority, establishing National initiatives aimed at achieving it.
Within healthcare, interoperability simply means the ability to send and receive medical information from different sources between different systems, organisations or locations. As it stands, interoperability is partly achieved in some settings, but there is an increased need for connectivity between systems and stakeholders, and adherence to open system standards.
– Interoperability is particularly important for specialised workflows within hospitals, such as those in emergency rooms or maternity wards, said Sanders. – Within these departments, real-time access to patient information at the point of care can be lifesaving.
Just as mobile phones or computers can connect with each other regardless of the brand, system, or vendor, healthcare organisations and eHealth vendors must work towards a universal sharing of medical data and health information, regardless of the setting or system where it originates.
– Connectivity and interoperability are integral to realising health data’s full potential for improving patient care, said Sanders. – And as interoperability increases, so too does the demand for niche solutions that can facilitate the wide variety of specialised workflows across different domains within the healthcare system.
Cloud, big-data and clinical decision support
One of the most exciting trends in eHealth is the new generations of information technologies, such as big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence, which hold the potential for a fundamental transformation of healthcare.
Today, patients can use wearable devices to monitor their health around the clock, seek medical care through virtual assistants, and take advantage of a variety of cloud-based health services. Healthcare professionals can access remote patient data and utilise a variety of clinical decision support systems that can assist with both diagnostics and treatment decisions.
With the use of emerging digital technology, eHealth solutions can play a leading role in reducing the cost of medical care, improving patient diagnoses and outcome and increase the efficient use of medical resources. In particular, cloud-based platforms are increasingly seen as vital to the delivery of self-care and healthcare services.
– The value of healthcare services powered by the cloud will only increase in the future as we continue to see advances in healthcare technology, such as automatic data collection through remote health monitoring tools and big data analytics, said Sanders.
The future of eHealth
The potential for digital technology to improve healthcare is enormous. Already, specialised eHealth solutions are enabling healthcare systems to improve patient care, increase clinical efficiency and reduce healthcare system costs.
Specialised software vendors like Omda play a vital role in partnering with healthcare stakeholders to navigate emerging trends and modernise the IT infrastructure in their organisations.
– Omda works closely with customers to understand how digital trends affect their business, said Bruun. – We partner with customers and users to continuously develop solutions that deliver the greatest value for their organisations.
– Harnessing the power of specialised eHealth solutions is an essential step in building an effective and sustainable healthcare system for the future, added Bruun. As the leading specialised, eHealth company in the Nordics, Omda is at the forefront of this digital transformation in health.