The rise of technology in healthcare has been a widely discussed topic for many years, however, the path to digital transformation in healthcare was rapidly accelerated following the influence of the pandemic. Despite this, digital transformation is still not widespread in the industry, with many more changes on the horizon. But what will this look like in 2023?

In this article, we will look at some of the key trends that are expected to influence digital transformation in healthcare over the next few years and any potential obstacles that may stand in the way.

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation in healthcare is the integration of digital technology across the healthcare system resulting in a fundamental operational and cultural shift. Digital transformation allows healthcare organisations such as the NHS to improve the quality of patient care and internal outcomes, whilst addressing longer-term challenges and delivering services in new and sustainable ways.

Digital trends that will shape healthcare in 2023

1. Data and AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the use of digital technology to create systems capable of performing tasks thought to require human intelligence. The technology is already widely used across the NHS for the delivery of services such as analysing X-ray images and supporting people in virtual wards. However, the adoption of AI in other healthcare services is set to continue and will provide the opportunity for personalisation at scale, making experiences more connected, seamless and relevant.

2. Automation of tasks

We can expect to see the continued adoption of technologies and processes to automate tasks across the NHS. One method of automation that is set to be integrated in 2023 is Robotic Process Automation (RPA). RPA is a technology that deploys and manages software that can be programmed to emulate human actions and digital systems to carry out basic, repetitive tasks.

Integrating RPA into the health and care system presents many opportunities through the automation of tasks such as patient administration, appointment scheduling, and operational and service management. The main benefit of automating tasks through RPA is the facilitation of operational efficiencies that help drive a better quality of care with quicker turnarounds and reduced costs.

3. Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS) will be widely used

We expect to see a major shift in the way healthcare is delivered over the next few years, with Telehealth becoming a widely used method of care delivery. Patients will interact with their doctors via video calls, phone calls, and text messages to allow for convenient, accessible, and cost-effective care. The NHS TECS programme is focused on delivering the right commissioning environment that supports and encourages the innovative use of technology to improve health outcomes for patients whilst delivering a more cost-effective service.

4. Enhanced privacy and security measures

With the delivery of health and social care services becoming more and more digitalised, we expect to see an increased emphasis on enhancing cyber security measures to further protect confidential patient records. The NHS has rolled out its Cyber Security Programme that aims to:

  • Enact lessons learned from the May 2017 cyber security incident
  • Ensure that actions related to “Critical” are completed.
  • Provide assurance that cyber security is being considered and managed as an ongoing board level risk.

5. Improved data quality

To maintain a steady path to digital transformation, the NHS and other healthcare organisations will need to focus on improving the quality of data. High quality data is essential as it leads to improvements in patient care and patient safety.

The NHS has a plan in place for data quality improvement which focuses on consistency, accuracy, timeliness, efficiency, validity, and completeness. It’s designed to facilitate the improvement of patient experience of NHS services.

Key challenges in achieving digital transformation in healthcare

Overcoming digital workforce issues

Retaining and attracting top digital and technology talent will continue to be a top priority and challenge. The shortage in digital tech talent is slowing down the digital transformation in the NHS, so finding the right talent to facilitate the process will be key.

Putting a plan in place to overcome the Great Digital Workforce Challenge will help to overcome this obstacle and employers should allow for some flexibility. Considering factors such as capacity, diversity, structure, and skillset, should help in overcoming the Great Digital Workforce Challenge.

Cyber security

Although tighter cyber security measures are very much at the forefront of digital transformation in healthcare, it still presents a series of challenges that may alter the course of digital maturity. Healthcare organisations have the highest costs associated with data breaches, which are three times higher than other industries.

User authentication, endpoint leakage, and excessive user permissions are the three most common vulnerabilities in the healthcare industry, so it’s essential that appropriate measures are taken to strengthen these.

Find out more about trends in digital transformation at HETT North in February 2024

This year’s HETT North is the perfect opportunity to find out more about digital transformation in healthcare and the key trends and challenges that are ongoing in the industry.

The packed full agenda includes a variety of sessions from leading industry speakers, covering topics such as AI, automation, workforce, adoption and productivity.

Join 1,400 digital health professionals and secure your free pass today.

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