Since the emergence of digital technologies, health care systems have been largely apprehensive of making the great leap forward in records keeping, opting instead for a frustratingly slow migration from filing cabinets to server rooms. And it makes sense. Patient data is sensitive and deeply private with many laws regulating its use. So, there is some conventional wisdom in keeping that data secure with in-house informational siloes that cannot communicate easily with other systems. The drawback, however, is the negative impact this lack of information flow has on the cost and comprehensiveness of patient care. 

But one spiked protein made the lumbering industry adapt. And adapt it swiftly did, with surprisingly successful outcomes.

Faced with the impossible task of receiving an influx of the panicked public in the throes of pandemic protocols, hospitals and health groups probed every possible plane of potential interaction, finding great success in the digital realm. The UK National Health Service rolled out Microsoft Teams for 1.2 million employees to communicate with each other and with patients. The private sector ramped up virtual care offerings and increased infrastructure development at breakneck speeds to overwhelming positive response. 

Now, 18 months later, Accenture reports that “81% of health care executives say the pace of digital transformation for their organization is accelerating,” with 93% reporting a sense of urgency toward innovation and action within this year. According to the survey of nearly 400 executives, 96% expect to be within the cloud in the next three years.

As more of our daily dealings move online, what do we expect to see in the digital integration of health care?

Emphasis on Virtual Care

The virtual doctor visit is a rapidly expanding medium of versatile patient care. Many within the ecosystem intend to redouble and refine their efforts into 2022. The flexibility of schedule for both provider and patient are major drivers, as is the ease of results sharing. Coupled with emerging and cost-effective in-home technologies like ECG’s and other baseline health monitors, diagnosis for common ailments becomes exceedingly efficient in the virtual space. As these technologies continue to emerge and evolve, the nature of primary and specialized care will likewise change, opening altogether new avenues of interaction. 

Increased Transparency

The breach of trust associated with surprise medical billing can be somewhat alleviated as the push toward transparency in the insurance field gains momentum. Many state hospital associations and medical societies are pushing for legislation to govern surprise billing dispute resolution rather than letting the federal government set the rules. This groundswell of legal support for the patient is echoed in data and communication solutions surrounding the industry as well. As the effectiveness of patient liaisons between primary and specialty care practices is clearly demonstrated, the picture becomes clear — the more patient data shared between affiliated providers and the patient themselves, the better the patient outcomes.

Insurance Efficiency through Emerging Tech

The traditional methods of insurance brokerage are diffuse and complex, built on an intricate network of relationships, referrals, and rules. However, the full adoption of data analytics can prove efficacious to insurers jockeying for position in an increasingly competitive marketplace. When insurers have complete data informing their decisions, the potential to personalize products to consumers and streamline processes allows for a competitive edge. Data is an unstoppable force in this new world, and those who harness it to get to the root of complex issues ensure their place in an ever-evolving landscape.

Covid has altered the face of every industry it has encountered. As we move through and beyond it, we find ourselves rethinking conventional practices and embracing new technologies while exploring unconventional approaches. After years of wavering, it appears that the healthcare industry is earnestly pursuing digitization. That is some interesting, exciting, profoundly  good news.