The IGHI report, titled Embracing Digital: is Covid-19 the catalyst for lasting change? and sponsored by EY Global, looks at how the swift shift to digital during the Covid-19 pandemic has helped healthcare systems streamline their extremely strained resources.
Just 18 per cent of health and human services (HHS) had successfully embedded digital tools pre-Covid, the report reveals, but following the global outbreak of coronavirus, 62 per cent of organisations increased their use of digital technologies.
The report explains that this seismic shift to digital was, in part, driven by increased demand from service users (16 per cent), provision of emergency funding to purchase tools and technologies (12 per cent) and alleviation of practitioner concerns and loss of human interaction (12 per cent); but also because many countries and local authorities temporarily eased restrictions on privacy and data protection.
Key benefits include improved engagement and speed of referrals
Overall, the report found that the key benefits of integrating digital technologies and data solutions were:
- Enabling practitioners to work from different locations (30 per cent)
- Enabling people to access online direct help (21 per cent)
- Improving quality of care (18 per cent)
- Improving patient/service user engagement (18 per cent)
- Improving speed of referrals and access to services (15 per cent)
Digitisation improves access to care
Sixty-four per cent of those asked in the survey said that they felt access to care was improved due to digital tools, while 63 per cent noted that the quality of their healthcare experience had improved, particularly through phone and video consultations, which they believed were effective substitutes for face-to-face contact.
What’s more, organisations noted that digitisation had been easy to adopt within their facilities, with staff adapting quickly to the new tools (66 per cent) and operating models becoming more efficient (59 per cent).
Digital healthcare is a hot topic across the board at the moment. In a recent industry voice, Swiss Re’s Global Chief Medical Officer Dr John Schoonbee looked at the growing utilisation of lifestyle apps, and how health insurers can use the data gathered though these to adapt their offerings.