The digital and hybrid experiences shaping the future of healthcare
April 26, 2021
From entertainment to healthcare, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to massive changes in behaviours and attitudes towards digital-first experiences.
However, looking ahead into what a post-pandemic world looks like, this forced embrace of virtual doctor’s appointments, staff meetings and interaction in general will leave a lasting impact on our day-to-day experiences.
As we consider the long-term implications for healthcare organizations, here’s what we can expect in the years ahead.
Continuing to bridge digital and in-person healthcare experiences
Before COVID-19, we expected that virtual care was several years away, but if anything, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of virtual care. Virtual appointments, rounding and work from home were quickly adopted at the start of the pandemic, and went from being strange new experiences to nearly standard practice.
However, as vaccines are rolling out, and the hopeful end of the pandemic is in sight, it’s led us to consider how virtual experiences will blend with in-person interactions in the coming months and years. A hybrid workforce seems clear cut in traditional office and business settings, but how can this experience be translated into healthcare?
- Streamlining patient journeys: the creation of a digital doorway can improve both the virtual and in-person patient experience. From the first virtual appointment to stepping foot into the hospital, the entire patient journey can be personalized – announcing arrival to hospital staff, supporting check-in and even creating digital signage to help with navigation. This can help save the patient time and make them feel more secure.
- Improving employee experiences: clinical staff don’t always live close to where they work. Continuing to embrace tools like video conferencing to conduct rounds, and staff meetings can save employees time and stress.
- More informed decision making: smarter facilities, supported by data-driven models and engines, can be more flexible, and support faster, more informed decision making. Connected buildings can provide insight into population density and support asset tagging, tying hospital resources to the network to track and manage ventilators, wheelchairs and more.
Prepare for the crossover of consumer tech onto healthcare networks
Health analytics have shifted from remaining sole purview of healthcare providers as consumer tech companies, like Apple and Fitbit, continue to innovate and add new features to their technologies. Perhaps most notable, the addition of sensors to watches, fitness bands and phones with the capability to securely measure blood oxygen levels, body temperature and pulse rate. This has opened a new door for real-time health monitoring.
Although there is still work to be done to ensure that the data collected is medical grade, there’s an opportunity to begin preparing now with correct design and infrastructure to incorporate this into healthcare delivery, painting a broader picture of a patient’s day-to-day health and ultimately supporting more personalized care. As we think of this potential future, it will be just as important to consider how to safely and securely connect these personal devices and the data they collect back to a hospital or clinic’s network.
As administrators plan for the future, it will be important to consider demands on network security, which must become more flexible and agile to safely accommodate these changes.
More data, more insights, better results
The hospital itself is the perfect space for the digital and physical experience to be brought together to enable a more customized, controlled, and secure experience and use cases for patients, clinicians and staff alike.
Here are a few examples of how the network, data and physical structures can play a key role to achieve a hospital’s objectives, from improving patient outcomes, to lowering capital expenditures and reducing a facility’s carbon footprint.
- Patient experience: From changing a room’s temperature, lighting and ambient noise or accessing their own charts, data can ensure that the patient experience is the most connected, personal, and adjustable/personable they can expect.
- Reducing energy consumption: Healthcare organizations are increasingly looking to build hospitals and clinics that aren’t just energy-efficient, but carbon neutral and sustainable. Converged data from both OT and IT can provide the insights needed to streamline facilities management. Automatically turning off lights, notifying management of damage or wear to hidden infrastructure like roofs or pipes, or even adjusting temperature can reduce not just carbon footprint, but lead cost savings as well.
- Space and asset utilization: Space is a commodity in healthcare. Again, data can ensure all spaces are used to their fullest potential by alerting staff when assets like wheelchairs or patient beds are free, when a space is over occupancy or when a room isn’t being used and can be repurposed.
As healthcare and technology continue to evolve over the coming years, so will the potential for digital and in-person experiences for patients, clinicians and hospital staff. However, once thing is certain: it will lead to a healthcare system that will become more predictive, personalized and accessible for all.