Pre-epidemic, digitally enabled healthcare was advancing; We acknowledge that the burden of disease is not sustainable and that there was a real need for technology to move the underpinnings to a preventive care model. However, the last few years have shown how much technology is able to support our stressful healthcare system, creating a sense of urgency to accelerate its integration.
The power of digital connectivity and equitable access
The power of digital connectivity has been undeniably evident throughout the epidemic; Remote trimming and virtual care have come into its own and are recognized for doing more of the same beyond its success. Yet, our healthcare systems have been plagued by epidemics and not just by increasing demand for emergency care.
Elective treatment has been delayed. After all, COVID-19 reveals a digital division of healthcare inequality based on the level of care people receive and where you live in a country, based on their level of connection. Worryingly, 58% of people could not access important services during an epidemic lockdown due to unreliable internet. As a society, it is our duty to level the healthcare journey to ensure equitable access and experience for all, while balancing the costs and resources of the public system. Digitally integrated and secure healthcare platforms have the potential to help us recover our health systems – both short-term in response to the epidemic and long-term to move toward a preventive healthcare model. They create an ecosystem that enables care to be provided in the most appropriate setting and personalized according to the patient’s needs when creating a protection system. It’s important that these systems communicate and coordinate with each other to help people ensure a seamless, relevant experience regardless of their care journey – whether at their general practitioner, hospital, council, home or care home, remotely or privately.
Digitally enabled healthcare systems create a more inclusive workforce
A digitally enabled healthcare system also has many benefits – for both staff and patients. Hybrid jobs have the potential to create a more inclusive and empowered workforce, encouraging those who have recently retired or left their jobs to work part-time in remote roles. In part, hybrid solutions can help address chronic healthcare workforce deficits and underpin new virtual models of care that may contribute to reducing the backlog of care. Also, automation and streamlining of processes through greater collaboration simplifies administrative workloads and increases productivity, while also reducing service costs and CO2 emissions.
A sleek, smart care system that uses digital technology to focus on prevention and relocation of care closer to home, is also a game changer for patients. For non-emergency care, a digital front door provides access to video counseling that may be less disruptive than patient care, many counselors are conducted comfortably in their own home. For those with a long-term health condition, a secure portal with access to health and wellness materials, virtual counseling and health coaching can help them lead healthier lives.
Technology-enabled healthcare is redefining the patient experience, creating the possibility to redefine how frontline staff provide care, improve patient outcomes and help achieve operational skills. The biggest challenge we face is ensuring that everyone can access these important services through affordable broadband and have the digital skills and devices to use them.
Cisco Solutions helps our clients across healthcare with what they do best, taking care of patients. Experience Holistic Care Journey through us Digital booth infographic.