Healthcare 2.0: Leveraging Digital Technologies for Better Care

Digital transformation is the adoption and integration of digital technologies across sectors to enhance societal benefits and industry efficiency. In healthcare, this transformation involves leveraging the internet and advanced digital technologies to foster innovative solutions, improve healthcare delivery, and address medical challenges. Quality control of the massive data collected can enhance patient well-being and reduce service costs. Digital technologies also impact medical education, prompting new training methods for healthcare professionals and creating new opportunities in the field.

Traditionally, healthcare was dominated by highly qualified experts. However, technological advancements have facilitated a digital transformation, benefiting both professionals and patients. According to a survey by Deloitte, 88% of healthcare technology experts and leaders prioritize patient experience in their investments. Additionally, 92% of healthcare units expect better performance from a patient-centric business model. By 2025, the global digital healthcare market is projected to be worth $504.4 billion, indicating the industry’s recognition of the revolutionary potential of digital transformation.

Healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and administrative staff, must stay abreast of ongoing digital transformations. Digital transformation, as defined by Regulation (EU) 2021/694, involves using digital technologies to transform businesses and services. Key technologies include the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, and artificial intelligence (AI).

Digital health fosters innovation by involving patients in their healthcare. Patients can actively participate in decision-making by accessing information from the internet or an app. This shift transforms patients into “health service consumers,” emphasizing personalized, convenient, and immediate healthcare services.

In terms of infrastructure, 75% of hospitals in the United States use electronic health record (EHR) systems. However, clinicians often report challenges due to the misuse of digital technologies. Some healthcare professionals resist these systems, potentially compromising patient care. Despite government incentives for the effective use of e-health technologies, results remain uncertain. While countries like the United Kingdom and Australia are early in their digital transformation journey, the European Union prioritizes digital health in its strategic plans.

Researchers have identified factors crucial for the successful adoption of new technology in healthcare. Information technology can enhance service procedures and analyze patient needs, leading to service innovation. Technological capability positively influences patient care and service processes, with significant management implications. Informatics facilitates knowledge exchange, improving service quality, reducing costs, and increasing patient satisfaction. Healthcare units can create “smart hospitals” with advanced technological features, requiring public authorities to possess the necessary know-how for their development.

Digital health is reshaping global healthcare services, shifting from sporadic acute care to continuous, comprehensive care. This new paradigm emphasizes “anytime and everywhere access to safe eHealth services,” facilitated by developments in remote data interchange, mobile communication, and medical technology. Features like follow-up care, timely intervention, self-care, and social support enhance healthcare delivery. However, increased data monitoring, storage, and exchange pose significant security and privacy challenges.

Mobile technology plays a crucial role in healthcare transformation, offering new opportunities for small and medium-sized healthcare companies. Mobile health applications can integrate with existing services, improving service management and patient-professional communication. An example is “Thymun,” a mobile healthcare platform designed to create intelligent health communities for autoimmune patients in Indonesia.

Long-term studies show that e-health services are rapidly increasing, particularly among those with greater medical needs. Tools like teleradiology, electronic health records, and Computer-Aided Diagnosis (CAD) are becoming integral. Countries like France lead in electronic health records, reflecting technological innovation in specialized healthcare sectors. Researchers argue that e-health solutions meet the demand for flexible, integrated, and cost-effective chronic care models. Patient involvement in disease monitoring and management improves treatment outcomes, emphasizing the importance of patient participation in healthcare decisions.



Digital Transformation Innovations in Healthcare

  • Telemedicine

Telemedicine is a significant innovation, enhancing accessibility and efficiency in healthcare. It addresses socioeconomic challenges like increased healthcare demand and an aging population. Despite obstacles like equipment costs, connectivity issues, and resistance to new methods, telemedicine can revolutionize healthcare delivery in remote areas. The World Health Organization defines telemedicine as the use of information and communication technologies to provide healthcare services over distances. Telemedicine includes teleradiology, teledermatology, teleneurology, and telemonitoring, enabling patients to receive quality healthcare remotely.


  • Security of eHealth

The security of eHealth systems is paramount, given the sensitivity of patient data. Methods to protect data include encryption, secure transmission, user authentication, data fragmentation, and digital signatures. Blockchain technology can preserve medical information integrity, ensuring data security and user verification. The EU H2020 KONFIDO  project, for example, aimed to secure cross-border health data exchange, combining technologies like blockchain and homomorphic encryption. Real-time monitoring frameworks can identify potential threats and ensure data security.


  • Education Impact of E-Health

Effective digital transformation in healthcare requires proper education and training. Medical education must adapt to incorporate digital health and telemedicine. Accreditation of Information Technology (IT) skills is advancing globally, and collaboration between medical and technology educators is essential. Research shows that online health information impacts patient behavior and health management. Healthcare professionals must engage with patients to evaluate online health information and support informed decision-making.



Challenges to Digital Transformation in Healthcare

Digital transformation in healthcare presents challenges that need addressing for long-term success:


  • Data Privacy and Security

The interoperability of healthcare data systems is crucial. Consolidating data in the cloud can streamline processes and reduce costs. However, digitized data is vulnerable to hacking, necessitating robust cybersecurity measures to protect patient information while complying with data protection regulations.


  • Resistance to Change

Significant buy-in from all stakeholders is essential. Creating an organizational structure that promotes collaboration can ensure successful digital transformation. Cross-functional teams should work together to identify and implement solutions that meet clinical and administrative needs.


  • Skill Gaps

Professional development and training programs are necessary to bridge skill gaps among healthcare professionals. Healthcare professionals need skills in digital transformation, project management, AI, and cybersecurity to remain effective in the evolving digital healthcare landscape.



Embracing the Digital Shift for a Healthier Future

Digital transformation in healthcare is a fundamental shift reshaping the entire industry. The integration of advanced digital technologies enhances patient care, streamlines operations, and fosters innovation. While challenges remain, the potential benefits of digital health are profound. By prioritizing patient-centric approaches and continuous professional development, the healthcare sector can harness digital transformation to create smarter, more efficient, and more accessible healthcare systems. The journey towards a digitally empowered healthcare ecosystem promises not only improved patient outcomes but also a more sustainable and responsive healthcare framework for the future.