Digital Healthcare Changes You Can Expect Post-Pandemic

By: Blair Felter on July 3, 2020

The healthcare industry has simultaneously been known for a relentless push toward innovation and a deeply-entrenched status-quo bias. Part of that is due to conflicting incentives that promote using the latest technology to deliver high-quality care and a desire to keep costs under control and maximize investments in legacy infrastructure.

How the Global Pandemic Has Changed How We Give and Receive Healthcare

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, however, those incentives shifted dramatically. Necessity suddenly became the primary driver in healthcare services as organizations struggled to keep up with rapidly increasing cases and threw every available resource into combating the virus. Digital healthcare technology has proven invaluable in this fight, and the push to leverage its potential in the midst of a pandemic has given many companies the incentive they needed to make the commitment to transforming the way they deliver care.

At the same time, COVID-19 has profoundly changed the patient experience. The need to maintain social distancing has shifted the way people receive care and forced many of them to adjust their priorities. Procedures that may have seemed urgent six months ago are now being delayed, while some patients have suddenly found themselves facing more risk than ever.

5 Digital Healthcare Changes to Expect Post-Pandemic

1. Expanded Telemedicine Services

If there has been one bright side to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that healthcare organizations have made huge innovations in telemedicine technology and services in a very short period of time. While the ability and even much of the infrastructure capacity has always been available, providers were often hesitant to make a commitment to telemedicine because insurance companies and Medicare offered limited (if any) reimbursements or incentives for remote healthcare services. Thanks to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) decision to expand reimbursements for telemedicine in the early weeks of the pandemic, telemedicine services have seen a tremendous boost that will likely prove quite durable in the post-pandemic landscape. The ability of telemedicine to offer inexpensive and quick diagnoses will help organizations to rein in costs and better meet the ever-growing demand for basic medical services.

2. Increased Digital Engagement

It remains to be seen what the post-pandemic world will look like. Even if a vaccine is developed, chances are good that limitations in production and distribution will make it difficult for everyone to be treated for some time. That means healthcare organizations will need to think about social distancing practices well into the next year. Fortunately, recent healthcare disruption has prompted providers and practices to utilize a broad range of remote engagement strategies to improve communication and coordination with patients. By using a combination of text messaging, dedicated smartphone apps, and voice scheduling to increase digital engagement, lobby wait times can be minimized and patients can avoid higher risks of virus transmission. These tools will also make it easier to prepare people for procedures ahead of time and reduce the number of no-show appointments.

3. Portable IoT Diagnostics

The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for more portable diagnostic equipment, especially when it comes to imaging devices. As patients came into hospitals, it proved difficult to limit the transmission of the virus because people had to be moved into different rooms for X-rays, ultrasounds, and other CT scans. Fortunately, many Internet of Things (IoT) devices are already being deployed to show the potential of digital healthcare tools. Chinese physicians in the Wuhan province turned to handheld ultrasound devices to help diagnose patients at the point of care and limit further exposure. In May, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of innovative new portable ultrasound technology for COVID-19 treatments. These technologies will continue to prove their value in the coming years as healthcare organizations strive to deliver care in hard-to-access regions and improve treatment flexibility.

4. Improved Care Coordination and Interoperability

One of the ongoing problems that has plagued the healthcare industry for decades is the lack of care coordination and data interoperability. For too long, medical treatment has used a fee-based, decentralized approach that did not take a holistic view of patient health outcomes. After the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the government began promoting a variety of value-based incentive programs that tried to encourage providers to focus on how treatments contributed to a patient’s overall health. Data interoperability, which allows different organizations to share patient information quickly and easily, is an important part of this push. The COVID-19 crisis has forced providers to overcome many of the obstacles to sharing information and coordinating care much more rapidly, and this trend will almost certainly accelerate in the post-pandemic environment. Data centers will play an important role in this process as a hub for patient information that is both highly interconnected and compliant with HIPAA requirements.

5. Artificial Intelligence and Big Data

Healthcare organizations have more data available to them today than ever before. A new generation of artificial intelligence (AI) technology is allowing them to put that data to good use, helping them to monitor trends and make increasingly accurate models that show how diseases progress and how patients respond to different treatments. Predictive big data analytics will continue to develop as a powerful healthcare tool, helping doctors to better diagnose symptoms and minimize errors. It can also streamline scheduling and administrative processes by taking a number of key factors into consideration when determining who to prioritize for elective procedures and imaging exams.

Enabling Digital Healthcare Transformation with vXchnge

As an experienced colocation provider, vXchnge has worked hard to develop a data center infrastructure that meets the exacting uptime and connectivity needs of today’s healthcare industry. Whether it’s our 100% uptime SLAs that ensure your essential systems and data remain available when you need them most, or direct cloud on-ramps that allow you to build dynamic hybrid IT environments to power your healthcare IoT systems, our versatile colocation services have just the features you need to drive your organization’s digital transformation. To learn more about how our edge data centers can unlock the potential of your healthcare IoT devices without putting your compliance status at risk, contact our colocation experts today.

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