Digital Transformation in Healthcare: Challenges and Opportunities

Digital Transformation in Healthcare Challenges and Opportunities

The landscape of every industry is being changed with the disruption of digital and emerging technologies. The industries that are ready to launch large-scale omnichannel transformations will be the ones who will survive, thrive, and flourish. Just like many other industries, the digital transformation in healthcare is following a similar trajectory, owing to technological and organizational advancements.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Media research revealed that digital transformation in healthcare is a top priority for healthcare professionals. However, just 7% of them have a fully executed digital healthcare strategy.

Why have only 7% of Organizations Executed Digital Healthcare Strategy?

In today’s dynamic era, technology has transformed the way customers shop, travel, and bank. However, it has yet to make a breakthrough in the healthcare industry.

The gap between the health expenditures and GDP has considerably increased within the last half a century, owing to the constant rise of healthcare expenditures. Moreover, when compared to the productivity increase in other industries, healthcare has not yet been able to achieve that mark since 1990.

State of digital transformation in healthcare industry

The acquisition of digitally-driven tools for diagnosis, management, and treatment, for example, has been modest.

The Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM) reveals that the adoption rate of EMR in Europe and the United States is just 3% and 35%, respectively. It’s not only the technology that defines the success of digital transformation in healthcare; instead, surveys mention that barriers to successful digital healthcare strategy are usually non-technological.

Harold F. Wolf, President, and CEO of HIMSS considers a change of culture to be the biggest hurdle in the digital transformation in the healthcare industry.

3 Key Ways to Successful Digital Transformations in Healthcare

When the key stakeholders of an organization discuss embarking upon a digital transformation journey, most of them are uncertain about what that means beyond buying the latest IT system. The following are a few ways that can set a smooth path toward a successful digital transformation in healthcare.

1. Open Innovation Delivers High-End Healthcare Disruption

The basic principle of open innovation is to take the paradigm away from the traditional and silo mindset that believes only in healthcare professionals to devise, develop, and disseminate novel concepts and solutions in the healthcare industry.

The key stakeholders involved in open innovation in the health industry are:

  • Public sector and private sector organizations
  • Health service organizations and their employees
  • Health service organizations and people they serve

Digital transformation can be brought into healthcare organizations by partnering with local governments and other healthcare providers to build an open innovation ecosystem. Using this ecosystem, custom-built interfaces can be designed to access the available healthcare data.

Several countries, including Finland, have recognized the benefits of open innovation platforms. Various organizations driven by the government-run Social Insurance Institution of Finland came into a partnership to build a set of digital healthcare services for the healthcare sector, Kanta, thereby turning Finland into Digital Finland.

Kanta architecture

Kanta is developed on an open system architecture, which allows software developers to build tailored interfaces for patient’s data. It includes personal electronic health records, prescription services, and patient-data repository. Digital services like Kanta help both the citizens as well as social welfare and healthcare service providers.

paperless prescription in digital transformation in healthcare

Here’s How We Built an EMR Decision Support Engine for Our Client

One of our clients approached us to get a bespoke decision support engine built that empowers the healthcare staff to easily and quickly write, change, and test rules that facilitate patient data. The client wanted to:

  • Automate and speed up the process of diagnosing a disease
  • Overcome human errors in the diagnosis of a particular problem
  • Define algorithms in a system that can be used in rules to calculate ASCVD score, BMI, etc.

We started the project with MVP development that helped us to keep the ‘could have’ features out of the first release, which kept the costs down and value high. Read the case study to know how we built an EMR with built-in decision support engines and unique workflows.

How Net Solutions helped Build an EMR Decision Support Engine

2. Offer Digital Service Delivery to Your Consumers

Today, digitization has successfully entered into various industries like travel, banking, and entertainment. The multiple sets of technologies have integrated into the lives of consumers to the extent that they expect the same level of digital service delivery even in other industries like healthcare.

The emerging technologies are increasingly becoming a part of the human’s lives in such a way that technology is becoming a vital part of a person’s identity. Leaders from the healthcare industry should leverage these unique digital identities to deliver more personalized services, thereby building a trustworthy relationship with consumers.

A survey from McKinsey reveals that consumers are willing to use technology in healthcare, and they even expect an omnichannel experience across all the touchpoints.

what consumers feel about digital transformation in healthcare

Kinsa, a tech startup that builds smart thermometers, allows consumers to track their fevers through a smartphone app. Clorox paid to license this information from Kinsa. The data available with Clorox highlighted the ZIP codes around the country that had a large number of people suffering from fever.

The company used this information to direct more ads to the infected areas assuming that households there may be in the market for products like its disinfecting wipes.

In the post-digital era, if healthcare organizations have the potential to build one-to-one relationships with individual healthcare consumers, it implies they have become their consumer’s trusted healthcare partner.

3. Optimal Workforce Mix can help Accelerate Digital Transformation in Healthcare

As mentioned, digital transformations are not just about technology; they are about organizational culture.

The healthcare industry is considered the most labor-dependent industry, and thus the Human + Machine approach yields the best results in this industry. Technology helps to lift the weight of processes, thereby allowing the organization to work at a new level of efficiency.

However, remember it’s not about technology driving the work; it’s more about technology augmenting the work of the workforce.

Human + Machine integration paves the way for a flexible and fluid ecosystem, which eventually results in increasingly distributed knowledge. Quick access to knowledge is critical to an agile and efficient healthcare enterprise.

Human and machine collaboration in digital transformation

A collaborative study of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard Medical School showcased that Artificial Intelligence is not just about Machines vs Humans.

To identify Metastatic Breast Cancer, a Deep Learning Algorithm was trained to interpret pathology images. The algorithm trained by them reached an accuracy of 92.5%, whereas Pathologists reached an accuracy of 97%. However, when used in combination, the detection accuracy reached approximately 100% (99.5%).

It is exactly this sort of collaboration between humans and machines that are going to play an essential role in the age of AI, and digital stakeholders that make wise investments in the right workforce-machine mix can spur on technology breakthroughs.

Trust: The Foundation of Digital Transformation in Healthcare Industry

Although there are many benefits of digital transformation in healthcare, there is still a considerable gap in expectation between how patients want healthcare to be delivered and how it is being delivered. No doubt, consumers want their demands met; however, they do not want their privacy to get shackled by healthcare organizations.

For instance, The World Street Journal reported that hospitals across the United States are giving tech giants—Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon—access to sensitive identifiable medical records. And it implies that tons of private records of patients could be handed over to these tech giants under the signed deal.

The question that arises here is:

  • Are patients aware of the transfer of their data to these tech leaders?
  • Whether they should be informed and given a chance to opt-in or out?

The answers to the above questions are NO and YES respectively, and when combined together, this is no less than a breach of consumers’ privacy.

Technology can enable healthcare enterprises to undergo a digital transformation. However, remember that tailoring personalized experiences to the consumer also means figuring out the extent to which you should tailor their experience. Follow a security-first approach from the beginning.


In today’s post-digital Darwinian world, healthcare is in a unique place, becoming more distributed and complex. To adapt, the healthcare industry has understood that digital must become a vital part of everything it does.

While investments in social, cloud, and analytics are progressing and adding value, leaders of the healthcare industry should look towards more sophisticated ways to deliver customer-centric services in this new era.

All of this is kind of easier to consider than execute for organizations that are still dependent upon decades-old legacy systems and operating models. However, strategizing today for the post-digital world is important as healthcare organizations continue to embark upon their digital transformation journeys.

Contact Net Solutions to get started with digital transformation in healthcare

Arshpreet Kaur

About the Author

Arshpreet is a Lead Business Analyst at Net Solutions. She plays an indispensable role in providing top-notch analytical and resource management advice to businesses. Her well-rounded knowledge in engineering concepts and a certification as a Scrum Product Owner helps her handle multiple projects effectively while defining the product vision and delivering value to customers.

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