Healthcare organisations across the APAC region have seen significant improvements due to digital transformation according to new findings released from a joint Microsoft-IDC Asia Pacific study.
Specifically, the study showed improvements of between 14 per cent to 21 per cent in patient outcomes and disease prevention, as well as patient experience, integrated care coordination, cost reductions, and innovation of care teams.
“Facing increasing patient expectations, rapid advancement of technology and strong emerging competitors, healthcare organisations need to progress faster and accelerate their digital transformation journey to develop new healthcare services,” said Keren Priyadarshini, regional business lead, worldwide health, Microsoft Asia.
“Healthcare leaders can no longer afford to just focus on basic optimisation of operational processes,” added Priyadarshini. “There is an imminent need for them to go beyond that and transform the entire business holistically.”
“By doing so, they can ensure that they remain competitive in the industry as patient care continuum becomes increasingly important.”
The 159 respondents surveyed as part of the study for ‘unlocking the economic impact of digital transformation in Asia Pacific’ identified those five areas -- patient outcomes and disease prevention,patient experience, integrated care coordination, cost reductions, and innovation of care teams -- as benefiting the most from digital transformation initiatives.
Furthermore, at least 30 per cent expect to see further enhancements by 2020, with integrated care coordination expected to see the biggest gain.
Data is key
“More healthcare organisations are recognising that there is a shift away from hospital-based care,” said Priyadarshini. “People are increasingly focused on improved healthy living and preventive care, where a combination of smart medical devices, IoT, cloud, data analytics and AI plays a crucial role.”
“According to the study, digital transformation could potentially double the improvements of integrated care coordination by 2020,” added Priyadarshini.
“It means that we can expect a substantial enhancement in intelligent healthcare continuum, including preventive care, diagnosis and treatment, home and elderly care in future.”
The study shows that healthcare leaders in the region are strongly focused on patients’ healthcare journeys, as they have identified three patient-related metrics as their top digital transformation key performance indicators (KPIs).
The first of these is process and service effectiveness. How an organisation is improving upon its existing process and service delivery to ensure patients are engaged effectively.
The second is patient advocacy, or whether patients are referring their preferred healthcare organisation to their peers, or are advocating their preferred service provider.
Lastly, data capitalisation, or how an organisation is leveraging data within the organisation to develop new products and services to improve healthcare delivery.
“Healthcare leaders of today have already identified that data capitalisation, or how data is being used as a capital asset within the organisation is one of their key focus areas and their KPIs,” said Victor Lim, vice president, IDC Asia Pacific.
“As a result, more healthcare organisations are investing in core technologies such as big data analytics as well as emerging technology such as AI, cognitive and robotics to fully assess and utilise the available data,” added Lim.
“Data is key to develop new services, and to improve the patient care continuum,” Priyadarshini said. “As healthcare organisations collect data from basic administration processes as well as patients’ healthcare records in a depersonalised way, the amount of latent and active data available for harnessing is immense.”
“This will grow even faster with mass adoption of smart medical devices and IoT,” added Priyadarshini. “To win the digital transformation race, healthcare leaders must identify the best approach to leverage technology to enhance healthy living and preventive care, diagnosis and treatment, along with home and elderly care.”
“Also, healthcare players need to share these approaches effectively across industry professionals and caregivers in a secured way to achieve better health outcomes for a patient.”
AI as the next frontier
Respondents from the study identified the emergence of disruptive technology as a top business concern today. The rise of artificial intelligence, for example, will shift the paradigm of care for healthcare organisations in the short term.
In fact, by 2019, IDC predicts that 40 per cent of digital transformation initiatives will be supported by AI/ cognitive capabilities, providing timely, critical insights for new operating and monetisation models in Asia Pacific (excluding Japan).
In India, the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases is high and it is among one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity.
As such, Microsoft’s AI network for healthcare recently teamed up with Apollo Hospitals to embark on a digital transformation journey in developing and deploying new machine learning models to predict patient risk for heart disease and assists doctors on treatment plans.
This is part of Microsoft Healthcare NExT aimed to accelerate healthcare innovation through artificial intelligence and cloud computing.
“This collaboration with Microsoft’s path-breaking technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning will help better predict, prevent and manage heart disease in the country,” said Sangita Reddy, joint managing director, Apollo Hospitals.
“Given our large clinical database and significant pool of clinical talent, the partnership will help impact the global burden of cardiac disease,” added Reddy.
“While we commence this in India, we will validate the algorithms and work towards creating a global consortium to tackle multiple conditions in cardiovascular disease.”
For any healthcare organisation to adopt an effective digital transformation strategy, they would need to consider three key steps, according to the research.
The first step is to develop a digital culture. Organisations need to address organisational shifts required for successful implementation of digital transformation initiatives. This include moving away from siloes and encouraging use of data across all processes internally and externally to develop a patient-centric culture.
This is where healthcare organisations can work on improving integrated care coordination to ensure a seamless process of data sharing with various parties.
The second step is to capitalise on data. Healthcare organisations need to understand and unlock the potential of data in developing differentiated patient experiences. By tapping into the data, healthcare organisations can enhance existing care services or create new revenue streams that will help to improve healthcare continuum.
As such, healthcare organisations need to focus on data capitalisation as one of the newer KPIs to track progress and to measure performance on their digital transformation efforts.
The last step is to embrace new technologies. Big data analytics, artificial intelligence and even augmented or mixed reality will play an integral role in the transformation of the healthcare industry. When implemented, they have the capabilities to unlock new patient insights and scenarios which helps shape service delivery models.
Another example would be how emerging technologies can help develop virtual medical services to increase patient access to medical services.