Today’s health and social care leaders who strive to deliver the best care to patients and citizens face many challenges — some that emerged in the past but haven’t been resolved yet, and new ones, related to the worldwide instability and the changing demands of the industry.
Technology companies come to aid with dedicated healthcare solutions, however, it’s vital that their ambitions be aligned with the healthcare industry's aspirations (and need) to improve its services through digital modernisation.
Serving as a Business Consultant at Objectivity, I’ve had first-hand experience of what the healthcare sector’s pain points are and how they can be addressed with the right technology. I’ve realised it’s not enough to only consider the technical aspects — a thorough understanding of the problem and the clinicians’ perspective is crucial. In this article, I will discuss the most important challenges in modern healthcare and efficient ways of addressing them.
What Challenges Are Healthcare Organisations Currently Facing?
The healthcare sector leaders that strive to innovate and further improve their services often need to overcome many obstacles on their road to success.
- The health and social care world is heavily dominated by legacy systems and introducing changes to such a landscape requires a lot of time and effort. An innovative concept may take years to be fully implemented and integrated within the existing IT ecosystem — even changes that benefit the IT ecosystem itself take time. This is why thought leaders and comprehensive range specialists often need to ‘reverse-adapt’ their processes to fit the needs of the existing software, not the other way around. Unfortunately, such an approach leads to many limitations to growth and innovation. Forrester already identified the integration of new technologies into the existing workflows as the top priority of healthcare organisations back in 2020, but the issue remains just as pressing today.
- Although it’s decreasing rapidly, there remains a significant gap between healthcare specialists and technical experts — we often observe issues in communication and understanding in this complex domain. Whilst goals might be shared, the approach to delivery (what is achievable and how it can be achieved) is often at odds with the different perspectives. There are already real-life examples of what the clashing viewpoints of healthcare professionals and tech leaders may lead to, therefore, it’s imperative to assure transparency, trust, and mutual understanding.
- The disconnection between systems (both legacy and current), with the advent of multiple apps and platforms, results in fractured data that prevents the achievement of a holistic view of citizens or patients. This leads to inefficiencies and frustrations and further constrains the delivery of efficient care.
To overcome their challenges, thought leaders, experts, and organisations need to aim to break the silos and accelerate the changes by creating a solid vision of how to achieve their goals. They can then introduce new methods to improve the population’s health, ensure better patient and staff experience, and lower the cost of care, all in line with the Quadruple Aim of Healthcare.
Innovative Technologies For Healthcare
I believe the key to success is synergy — the combination of bold ideas with broad expertise in delivering digital projects can result in ground-breaking changes.
Digital services healthcare organisations can take advantage of include:
- Forecasting and simulation engines to help in managing patients’ waiting lists, which is a huge problem of today’s healthcare, or to support the supply chain in the pharmaceutical sector.
- Artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (ML) engines and anomaly detection to support diagnostics, detect pathologies, or identify medicine and equipment waste.
- Computer vision to read patients' condition and behaviour, assist them in their rehab exercises, or support stock management in the organisations.
- Cloud adoption to enable access to innovative services or lower the cost of care.
- Internet of things and smart buildings to integrate high technology into modern hospitals and their staff.
- Low-code solutions to digitalise any process quickly, creating value, and returning the investment cost often sooner than expected.
Moreover, it may be worthwhile to explore solutions leveraging language processing, chatbots, digital assistants, or quantum computing services.
Partnering for Success
How to bring ideas and technology together to build efficient and comprehensive solutions or inspire experts with the latest advancements? Speaking from experience, there are several steps that prove successful in creating innovative, fit-for-purpose solutions.
Ideas come first. It’s best to bring multidisciplinary teams together, brainstorm, and have an open conversation with a clearly defined goal and focus on the outcomes. Such discussions allow healthcare experts, solution end users, and patient/citizen representatives to meet with technologists to inspire, discuss, and understand what is indeed required, and what is achievable.
The early stages of the project can take different names: ideation, consultancy, or the discovery phase in agile terminology. A tech partner with a strong team of IT consultants, analysts, and service designers will be prepared to facilitate this initial cooperation so that it brings the most benefit to all participants. It’s worth mentioning that when discussing innovative concepts, it’s good to rely on certain assumptions:
- Pragmatism — application over distraction.
- Solutions are meant to support experts, not replace them.
- Data insights are the key to implementation and project validation.
- Let technology serve your needs and make the most of it.
Technology is a tool you use to achieve the desired goal, so it shouldn’t drive your vision of the solution. There are many technologies, products, and tools available on the market, each with its own pros and cons. With the help of your technology partner, you’ll be able to pick the right one considering your organisation’s future aspirations and plans, technical capabilities, and maintenance cost.
Delivery above all. An idea needs to be implemented and well-integrated with the existing processes and IT ecosystems to achieve real success. Working with a reliable tech partner grants healthcare leaders access to a wide range of experts specialised in delivering software products, integration, data, and AI projects. These can be IT consultants and service designers, user experience specialists and graphic designers, technical architects, software delivery teams skilled in various technologies, AI specialists, and many more. All in one place, working as a single, cross-functional team, with flexible resourcing, and without communication hassle.
The right partner can successfully materialise an idea and turn it into a live and fit-for-purpose solution. With an iterative approach and continuous client involvement and feedback, the new solutions will fulfil the expectations set by everyone at the beginning of the project.
The nature of the best digital companies is to continuously evolve, build and maintain their knowledge base, and be up-to-date with the newest project frameworks and technology offerings. All of these can then be applied to the entire delivery process, from consultancy through the design stage to the delivery phases. This is where healthcare innovation meets technology that can support it.
At Objectivity, we’re proud of our ongoing collaboration with innovation leaders across the UK, for whom we deliver projects and advisory services. We have the privilege to cooperate with leading healthcare organisations with a focus on innovation, such as Health Innovation Manchester, Alder Hey Innovation Centre, and the University of Glasgow's Clinical Innovation Zone. In our partnerships, we always strive to accelerate healthcare innovation by transforming promising ideas into practical solutions that improve the well-being of patients and their care givers.