If there has been any benefit from the coronavirus pandemic, it is that digital technology has received a big boost from utilization during the pandemic. From tracking, testing and treating the virus to advancements in digital therapeutics, online training and meetings (had anyone even heard of Zoom before 2020?) and at-home testing, digital health has increased its impact on healthcare experience.
In its recent Digital Health Technology Vision 2020 report, Accenture found 5 trends that, while present prior to COVID-19, have become more prevalent since the pandemic began. The report was developed using input from IT industry experts, business and IT executives in 25 different countries and consumers in the US, UK, China and India.
The 5 trends include:
- Digital patient experience. While big strides have been made in recent years with digital technology – virtual health visits, online appointment scheduling, physician platforms, etc., 2020’s global pandemic has pushed technology to the forefront. With lockdowns in place, digital became the means for people to connect with healthcare providers while staying safe at home. 85% of health executive survey respondents said that technology is now a tightly-webbed part of life and 70% of consumer survey respondents expect digital technology to become more prevalent in their lives over the next three years. In addition, 90% of health executives surveyed said that organizations who want to remain competitive will need to promote their relationships with their patients and customers.
- Artificial intelligence. A majority of healthcare organizations (69%) have either adopted AI or are in the process of doing so with pilot projects. AI’s uses include automating processes, screening/triaging patients, reconfiguration of supply chains and more.
- Smart devices. Smart phones and other devices had already become an important factor in the lives of most people, but the pandemic has intensified their importance in communicating with healthcare providers. However, consumers have concerns about data security. 70% of consumers in the Accenture survey said they are concerned about data privacy and tracking of their online activities, locations, interests and behaviors. Healthcare organizations need to allow patients ownership of their data to help allay privacy concerns.
- Robots. Robots are being moved into healthcare settings to assist with services. Over 70% of healthcare executives surveyed said the robots will be important in facilitating coming generations of services. But 54% of those executives also said that figuring out how to have robots and employees working together will be a challenge.
- Innovation. Innovation will never stop but it has certainly bloomed during the pandemic. Organizations that were thinking about virtual visits prior to the pandemic are now up and running at some level of telehealth/telemedicine, for example. 78% of healthcare executives surveyed said that innovation’s stakes have never been higher, but “getting it right” will be of utmost importance. Healthcare organizations will have to up their technology game so that their patients will feel safe in using technology to improve their experience.