For a long time, the healthcare industry has fallen behind other industries when it comes to digitizing their services.

This is because traditional, non-digital methods were effective in many areas of healthcare for far longer than it was acceptable in other industries.

In every field involved in the industry, from healthcare marketing to new medical innovations, relying on digital technology was only part of the job.

Even now, a large part of the jobs in the healthcare industry rely on people, and the limits possessed by them.

If there was nobody within the industry willing to stand out from the crowd and experiment with new methods, including digital ones, there wasn’t going to be any progress.

Now, we can’t place all the blame on the faces behind the industry. After all, as an industry that deals directly with patients in life and death situations, they have to be careful.

Lots of the delays in bringing the healthcare industry up to the same digital standards as other industries can be blamed on red tape, loopholes and ethical concerns.

It’s difficult to convince medical boards and other healthcare professionals that something is going to work when there is no evidence to back this up, especially if what you’re suggesting reduces the direct, in-person interactions between patients and physicians.

There are signs, however, that the healthcare industry is finally being exposed to the digital world—and fast.

Since its first round of funding in 2009, for example, Google Ventures has backed nearly 60 health-related enterprises related to digitalising healthcare. This includes everything from genetics to telemedicine development.

Okay, this is all well and good, but what actually is digital transformation?

A digital transformation within an industry explains a shift where said industry starts to rely more on digital assistance to deliver their services.

It’s more complicated than just digitizing one area of a business or industry, however, as it involves completely overturning how said industry operates and delivers value to their clients. If you’re curious about how hard it is to digitize the industry from within check out this interview with Simon Stertzer, chairman at Biocardia. Hint: the healthcare industry DOES not take kindly to digital transformation.

In addition to this, the health industry needs to adapt to a cultural change to accept that a digital transformation is taking place.

This requires lots of organizations constantly making innovative changes in the digital world when it comes to their industry, with companies who are willing to switch up the status quo by experimenting and getting comfortable with the idea of failure.

How does this relate to healthcare?

Experts analyzing the industry predict that we are currently being introduced to the third evolutionary wave of digital transformation within the healthcare industry.

We have seen a lot of this begin to take place already, with healthcare and technology companies combining their knowledge to create devices and aids that better patient experiences and outcomes.

A widespread example of this is fitness devices, like watches, that encourage people to exercise by allowing them to monitor their progress.

Some of the up-to-date healthcare technology pieces will even tell you how many calories you have burned while exercising, or throughout the course of the day.

This allows individuals to make better decisions about their health as they are seeing accurate results in real time, instead of having to wait for their next doctor’s appointment—which could be months away—to receive a proper progress update.

It isn’t just fitness that these apps and devices will help with, however.

They also play an important role when it comes to non-invasively understanding other health problems, like sleep and heart rate.

Previously, related disorders would be diagnosed through invasive tests, and several-night stays in hospital.

Now, however, people can monitor these health problems from the comfort of their own home, and report to their doctor when their symptoms first begin to worsen, instead of waiting until the symptoms take a toll on the individual’s everyday life.

The digital transformation involves more than what exists now

The digital transformation over the course of the next ten years will use foundational technologies to transform the way we interact with healthcare industries around the globe.

These foundational technologies are things you might recognise, like mobility, Web 3.0, Paas/SaaS, Big Data and Unified Communications.

It’s thought that as the healthcare industry begins to understand these foundational technologies and becomes comfortable with the idea of taking risks as the digital transformation continues, we will learn to do things we had never even considered before.

And this is true. Check out this article covering what the top healthcare companies in the world are doing in the field of artificial intelligence alone.

The digital transformation in healthcare will unleash a seamless flow of data that ranges from things as simple as digitised health care records, to systems that allow a patient to interact with their care teams at any time and from anywhere.

It will allow us to explore other forms of technology, and delve deeper into the things we are only just starting to understand, like artificial intelligence (AI).

At the moment, this technology is being trialled in the healthcare industry to give patients more control over their health conditions by allowing them to communicate their concerns remotely.

If someone is experiencing chest pain, for example, the artificial intelligence device will be taught to ask questions that determine the seriousness of these pains, which will then go on to suggest a next port of call.

This technology, and other like it, are the driving forces behind the digital transformation narrative, and will continue to have a larger impact as the years go on.

The outcome of the digital transformation in healthcare

The healthcare industry hopes that engaging with digital services to transform the way they operate will ultimately improve patient experiences, and outcomes.

This will happen by providing personalised advice when the patient needs it, instead of having to wait until a doctor’s appointment can be arranged.

These technologies could potentially be an answer to longer waiting times in hospitals, and difficulties with accessing healthcare for those in rural locations or who have disabilities that make accessing said services difficult.

So what are you waiting for?

Despite the obvious benefits technology will have on healthcare industries in the coming years, many organizations are still hesitant to become frontrunners in the digital transformation.

According to Digital Authority Partners, just six percent of healthcare and pharmaceutical companies have gone digital with their practices, compared to eleven percent in other industries.

If we have one message to leave you with, it’s to encourage you to make the needed steps to be a monumental part of the digital transformation in healthcare.