How will digital technology transform healthcare? A new report from Thoughtworks cuts through the hype to reveal the best opportunities
Nobody doubts the power of digital technology to transform healthcare. But in a constantly changing technology landscape, it’s not always easy to see which trends, tools, and platforms are the most important or viable.
A new report from Thoughtworks, Looking Glass: Bringing the future of healthcare delivery into focus, looks at more than 120 technology trends through six 'lenses' to help healthcare providers understand which areas of digital technology could have the biggest impact on their operations and on patient outcomes.
The report identifies three fundamental shifts that could transform healthcare delivery for providers that can apply the right combination of technologies: patient controlled healthcare, greater efficiency and effectiveness, and improved access to healthcare services.
Putting patients in control
As digital healthcare becomes more common and grows in value, it will be essential to give patients control and choice over how their data is used, while still enabling providers to deliver connected healthcare experiences.
Patients’ concerns over the use of their healthcare data were thrown into the spotlight recently when the new NHS GP data sharing scheme had to be put on hold after more than a million people opted out. Patients must understand how sharing data with providers can help improve healthcare outcomes, but they must always be in control of their own data.
One way to overcome patient concerns is to use decentralised data platforms to give patients ownership of their data. Decentralisation allows patients to control exactly how their data is used, but it also makes it simpler for providers to access that data (with the right permissions) to deliver digital healthcare services.
Privacy-aware communications are another valuable development in this area. With privacy embedded in every digital touchpoint, patients always remain in control, but providers can still share data to support healthcare delivery.
Empowering healthcare professionals
Technology can give healthcare providers and frontline professionals powerful new capabilities to treat more patients, more efficiently – and improve outcomes.
It’s all about having access to a complete view of patient information. Wearable technologies and digital platforms allow providers to gather more real time data, enabling clinicians to monitor and proactively improve the health of individual patients.
Of course, it’s not possible for human clinicians to process all the data generated by digital healthcare tools and platforms. That’s where AI is invaluable, processing vast quantities of patient data to help accelerate diagnosis and provide valuable insights to support clinical decision-making.
If they’re to have the desired impact on clinician workloads and patient experiences, digital healthcare services can’t be siloed. As patients move between services on their healthcare journey, they should be able to access everything they need through a unified digital ecosystem. That means interoperability is essential (while keeping in mind data privacy concerns). If services can’t share data, their impact on efficiency and patient outcomes will be limited.
Perhaps the most exciting impact of the digital technologies Thoughtworks examined in the Looking Glass report is their potential to change the lives of millions of patients with a variety of accessibility needs.
Digital healthcare platforms, for example, can make it much easier for more patients to access services, as long as they’re built with equality and accessibility as key design principles. This means involving patients and users from the very earliest stages of the design process. It’s a significant shift in mindset for most providers, but it’s essential for ensuring platforms are as inclusive as possible.
Other innovative technologies can help patients with different accessibility needs engage with healthcare services. From brain-computer interfaces to intelligent assistants and gesture recognition, there are numerous options; the challenge for healthcare providers is to assess which technologies will have the largest impact on patient experiences and outcomes.
Discover what’s next
There are so many exciting possibilities in digital healthcare, and we’ve only just scratched the surface of what’s possible here. There are also numerous challenges on the road ahead. But with the right insights and support, healthcare providers can navigate a path through the challenges and deliver on the promise of digital healthcare.
As a first step, read the Looking Glass report for in-depth analysis of current and emerging healthcare technology trends and opportunities, so you can start to identify the best areas for your transformation investments.