Evolve or be left behind – these are the only choices for businesses in our digital era. Digital transformation, the adoption of newer, more advanced digital technologies, is essential to better meet the needs of customers, and to stay ahead of the curve. For the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector, coronavirus has made this choice a matter of life and death.
The COVID-19 crisis prompted drastic upheaval in healthcare. The sector embraced new technologies and protocols to help protect staff and patients. But what digital technologies were implemented over the pandemic, and what future do they have in the industry?
The new face-to-face?
In-person examination is often an integral part of any medical appointment. However, coronavirus has prevented many healthcare providers from offering physical appointments to their patients. The risk of nosocomial infection through person-to-person contact in waiting rooms is simply too great to justify the need for many in-person appointments. For patients needing face-to-face appointments, this has meant an indefinite wait, potentially delaying diagnoses and causing conditions to worsen. In an industry which relies so heavily on face-to-face communication, how can digital technology ensure patients quickly receive the crucial advice and support they need from the safety of their own home?
Frost & Sullivan predict that “virtual consultations by healthcare professionals will become the mainstream care delivery model post-pandemic”. The applications of this tool are clear amidst a global health crisis: virtual consultations allow practitioners to meet patients face-to-face over the internet, without the risk of coronavirus infection. But what about after the pandemic? Virtual consultations are a convenient and rapid method of healthcare delivery, which makes them a valuable option for therapy and urgent care services. The distanced nature of virtual consultations eliminates the need for physical resources and PPE, and therefore lowers service running costs.
Virtual waiting rooms
No one likes to wait, especially in a crowded waiting room for a delayed appointment. Extended wait times not only frustrate patients, but can also compromise patient safety through exposure to airborne infections. Access to healthcare should be quick, convenient, and above all safe, but how can digital technology help?
This is where dynamic patient scheduling and communications come in. With intelligent scheduling, departments can place patients in a virtual queue until their clinician is available, helping practices to regulate numbers in physical waiting rooms. Patients can wait offsite at a preferred location until their appointment and digitally check-in on arrival. Live text updates keep patients informed of their appointment time and when they can enter the department. This process is clinically safer than the old normal of static appointments.
The future of digital technologies in the healthcare sector
The benefits of digital technologies in the healthcare sector are endless, but platform scalability and security will be instrumental to their success.
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 Frost & Sullivan, Frost & Sullivan Reveals Top Five Predictions for the Global Healthcare Industry Post COVID-19.