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Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation in Healthcare: 4 Key Trends

What Is Digital Transformation in Healthcare (Digital Healthcare)?

Digital transformation involves incorporating computer-based technologies into the organization's processes, strategies, and products. It enables organizations to better engage and serve their customers and workforce, improving their ability to compete.

Digital healthcare helps apply digital transformation to the healthcare industry by incorporating new hardware, software, and services. The term digital health covers mobile health (mHealth) apps, electronic medical records (EMRs), electronic health records (EHRs), wearable devices, telemedicine, personalized medicine, and telehealth.

In this article:

How Has Digital Transformation Impacted Healthcare?

Overall, digital transformation has had a huge impact on the healthcare industry. In the United States alone, it is estimated that the digital healthcare market will be worth $1.5 trillion by 2030.

Digital transformation is at the basis of a new approach in the healthcare industry, known as patient-centric healthcare. This allows healthcare providers and institutions to provide streamlined operations that benefit patients and ensure a better user experience.

The process of collecting, storing, and accessing data via digital communications has proven to be highly beneficial in the healthcare environment. The ability to access patient information is an essential part of providing personalized service.

However, healthcare providers face major challenges when implementing digital technology. The first hurdle is finding the right digital strategy and the technologies to use. Additional challenges include the high cost of a digital transformation initiative, disruption to existing business processes, and cultural resistance to change.

See examples of digital transformation in other industries in our guide: digital transformation examples

4 Key Digital Trends in Healthcare Industry

Here are some of the key technological trends driving digital transformation in healthcare.

Learn about these and other technologies in our guide to digital transformation technologies

1. Cloud Computing

Conventional data storage solutions don’t offer the same scalability and capacity as a cloud service. Cloud and serverless computing don’t require a team of data specialists to monitor an organization’s systems and evaluate their performance. Cloud computing also helps reduce costs via flexible pay-per-use pricing models that only incur charges for the services used. A cloud solution usually supports automated scaling (up and down) to adjust to changing market conditions and business needs.

2. Machine Learning (ML)

Machine learning can help predict patients’ reactions to various treatments and drugs. ML algorithms analyze large volumes of data to identify patterns that physicians can leverage to understand a patient’s condition and plan better treatments. It can be useful for drug development and testing, allowing researchers to predict the efficacy of a drug and tailor the treatment to a specific patient group.

3. Blockchain

Security is the main concern in the healthcare industry regarding digitalization. Thus, blockchain technology is one of the most important emerging trends. Blockchain provides a secure framework for generating and storing records, protecting data by ensuring it remains unaltered. Blockchain systems record transactions chronologically and don’t allow anyone to remove data from a blockchain.

4. Personalization

Many industries are adopting a customer-driven approach, including healthcare. The individual patient is at the heart of the entire healthcare industry, so it is important to provide personalized treatments. Consumer AI and genetic testing technologies are some of the leading means of personalization.

Healthcare practitioners can leverage consumer AI to improve their patients' experience and improve the doctor-patient relationship. Patients can track their health information using AI-powered applications like Google Fit, and this data can also assist in providing an accurate diagnosis later.

Medical practitioners can use genetic testing to predict an individual's reaction to a specific drug based on DNA profiling. This data allows researchers to design targeted drugs and treatment plans for specific patients.

Digital Transformation Challenges in Healthcare

While there is great potential for digital transformation in healthcare, it also presents challenges.

Data Management

Data processing and analysis is a major challenge in healthcare. Part of the problem lies in the vast amount of data collected by hospitals, clinics, and healthcare professionals. Without an AI system that can analyze this data, organizations will have a hard time providing better personalized care.

Another challenge is data collection and synchronization. Telemedicine requires medical practitioners to access patient health records from remote locations. There is a need to record and update health records via multiple devices, providing a consistent experience for in-person and virtual sessions.

Cybersecurity

Cyberattacks are a critical risk for healthcare organizations. According to security researchers, healthcare is one of the main industries targeted by cybercriminals. The large volume of devices connected to the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), the large volume of sensitive patient data, and the complexity of remote patient care models all increase the risk. Cloud security is also a concern, with more healthcare organizations storing data in the public cloud to facilitate collaboration and data sharing.

The attack surface of the security perimeter in healthcare is much larger than in other industries. Healthcare organizations need to share data across multiple organizations, and operate IoMT devices and traditional healthcare devices, many of which are connected to networks.

Despite increased security monitoring and investment, security measures are insufficient in many organizations. Many hospitals manage thousands of poorly protected medical devices, many of which run on legacy operating systems that no longer have security updates. Organizations are striving for digital transformation, but risk management practices are not catching up.

Data Privacy

As the healthcare industry shifts to collaborative care, the risk of patient data being exposed is even higher. Collaborative medicine is a delivery model that makes patient data available in complex healthcare environments, making it accessible to many users across multiple devices and locations.

Healthcare professionals and biomedical researchers increasingly use artificial intelligence to improve medical decision-making and patient care, including monitoring and diagnosing health conditions. Without adequate data privacy controls, the risk of personal data exposure and loss increases significantly.

The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) imposes new requirements on how organizations collect, use and protect personal data. The GDPR is punishable by fines of up to 20 million Euro or 4% of a company's annual turnover.

In the US, healthcare organizations are subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which imposes severe restrictions on the protection of protected health information (PHI). Healthcare organizations should evaluate their data privacy practices ensuring compliance with these and other relevant standards.

Learn more about GDPR, HIPAA, PHI, and more in Meeting Data Compliance with a Wave of New Privacy Regulations.

Cloud Transformation with NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP

Cloud computing is at the core of digital transformation, elevating it from the adoption stage of digital technology to include also the tools, rebuilding process, and the experience of a virtual environment that is accessible from anywhere. In order for an organization to achieve its goals and secure future viability, it needs to adopt a cloud-first or hybrid cloud management strategy.

NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the leading enterprise-grade storage management solution, delivers secure, proven storage management services on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP capacity can scale into the petabytes, and it supports various use cases such as file services, databases, DevOps or any other enterprise workload, with a strong set of features including high availability, data protection, storage efficiencies, Kubernetes integration, and more.

NetApp and Cloud Volumes ONTAP play a key role in the cloud transformation process, helping enterprises move workloads and data to the cloud securely, manage them efficiently, and integrate them with modern cloud technologies. This frees the organizations from the burden of managing large-scale storage infrastructure and allows them to focus on their core business.

In particular, Cloud Volumes ONTAP assists with cloud migration in digital transformation projects. Learn more about how Cloud Volumes ONTAP helps with lift and shift cloud migration.

Read how Cloud Volumes ONTAP helps customers in these Cloud Migration Case Studies.

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Yifat Perry, Product Marketing Lead

Product Marketing Lead