What is e-health and how does it compare to traditional healthcare services?
In this article, we’ll learn about this evolving technology trend, compare it to traditional healthcare practices, and learn what the future holds for the healthcare industry.
Then, we’ll outline a few important areas that healthcare organizations should focus on when designing a digital transformation strategy.
What Is E-Health?
E-health refers to healthcare services that are delivered electronically.
These services can include:
- Telemedicine and telecare
- Mobile health
- Electronic healthcare information systems
Though many use “e-health” to refer specifically to health services powered by digital technology, others expand the meaning to include any other technology-powered health services. These can include robotic assistants, remote surgery, and so forth.
E-Health vs. Traditional Healthcare: Pros and Cons
E-health solutions offer a number of benefits over traditional approaches to healthcare.
A few advantages of telemedicine, for instance, include:
- Greater convenience for patients
- Lower costs for both providers and patients
- The ability to treat patients who are located anywhere
Telemedicine, however, does have drawbacks.
- Certain types of treatment cannot be provided remotely
- Doctors cannot evaluate patients in person and may miss certain symptoms
- Physicians and patients alike may resist the adoption of telemedicine
- Some patients may not want to receive treatment remotely
In short, as with any other business process or healthcare practice, telemedicine has its pros and cons.
The same can be said for other e-health services, such as those listed above. Oftentimes, the use of technology offers a number of advantages in terms of cost and efficiency, but these technology-driven solutions certainly cannot replace physicians.
However, there will be major shifts in the healthcare industry in the years ahead, many of which will significantly impact healthcare professionals – and the first step towards preparing for that reality is understanding what those changes will be.
The Future of Healthcare
The future of healthcare is probably coming faster than most people realize.
Technology, patient preferences, the economy, COVID-19, and other forces will be helping to reshape the future of healthcare.
A few of the biggest technologies impacting that future include:
- Digital. The more that digital technology evolves, the greater the role it will play in the healthcare industry. From big data to remote care, healthcare providers should prioritize digital adoption and put it at the top of their agendas.
- Biological. Technologies such as genetic modification offer promise when it comes to the development of new medicines and treatments.
- Remote. Telemedicine, telecare, and other remote healthcare practices will become far more common. Since they offer so many benefits – and since they keep patients safer during health crises such as COVID-19 – providers should considering adopting these practices sooner rather than later.
- Physical. Physical technology, such as robotics and manufacturing, will gradually improve many areas of healthcare. For example, as robots becomes more advanced, they can be used to provide care for certain patient populations, such as the elderly.
Since the future is already emerging, it is important to begin changing as early as possible. History has proven, after all, that innovators and early adopters often become market leaders.
How Healthcare Providers Can Adopt E-Health Practices
Digital transformation is too vast a topic to cover in depth in this article, but we can introduce a few key concepts.
Healthcare providers who want to adopt e-health solutions will need to understand and proactively pursue a few key agendas:
- Strategic digital transformation. Healthcare organizations are often complex and slow-moving, at least when compared to private sector companies. Due to the complexity and difficulties associated with change, many organizations are slow to innovate. Yet to stay relevant and profitable, it is important for the organization to align and move towards a common digital transformation goal.
- Employee training. Employee training is a must during digital adoption programs. If an organization adopts new telehealth software, for instance, employees must be trained in order to become productive with the new tools. Without training, they may become frustrated, unproductive, and patient care may suffer as a result.
- Change management. Organizational change is never easy, especially those as complex as digital transformation efforts. In order to minimize mistakes and achieve the best outcomes, it is important to take a structured approach to change management. A good change management strategy will go a long way towards improving the program’s effectiveness, performance, and its final outcomes.
- Digital adoption. One top priority for healthcare should be digital adoption – the full integration of digital tools and a commitment to using them to their fullest extent. True digital adoption is a prerequisite for realizing product value, improving employee performance, and maximizing software ROI.
A long-term strategy that incorporates these characteristics can help healthcare providers keep up with the changing economy and even create a competitive advantage.