Healthcare Technology in a Post-Digital Age

June 14, 2019

How healthcare executives are thinking about the future of healthcare technologies.

The post-digital age can be defined as an age where everything is digitally connected. And according to a new report from Accenture, healthcare is already there.

The report, “Digital Health Tech Vision 2019,” shows that technological innovation in healthcare is skyrocketing as executives across the industry place digital technology at the forefront of their strategies.

In fact, the report finds that 94% of healthcare executives say the pace of innovation at their organizations has accelerated over the past three years due to emerging technologies. Already-well-established technologies are also becoming a deeper part of healthcare organizations-80% of healthcare executives said SMAC (social, mobile, analytics, and cloud) technologies are becoming a core technology foundation at their organizations.

The report focuses on what it calls the four most important emerging technologies, using the acronym DARQ (Distributed ledger, AI, Extended reality, and Quantum computing). Distributed ledger includes technologies like blockchain, which are and will be more heavily involved in healthcare payments and identification. Forty-one percent of executives said they see AI as the most important emerging technology. Extended reality allows greater human interaction with technology, and 38% of healthcare organizations have already adopted the technology. Finally, quantum computing will allow organizations to deal with huge amounts of raw data, allowing for everything from more personalized medicine to faster drug discovery.

Related: Patients Want Mobile Healthcare Options

Overall in healthcare, 89% of healthcare executives surveyed by Accenture said they are working with at least one DARQ technology.

“The latest report finds that the majority of health organizations have accelerated the pace of innovation in their organization over the past three years, but need to do more to master a range of specific technologies to meet rising consumer and employee expectations for care,” says Kaveh Safavi, MD, JD, senior managing director of Accenture’s global health practice. “Despite efforts to harness emerging technologies, three-quarters of executives believe their employees are more digitally mature than their organization, resulting in a workforce ‘waiting’ for the organization to catch up.”

That waiting for an organization to integrate emerging technology, Safavi says, shows that “digital transformations aren’t just about technology-they’re about people. As organizations continue to innovate and push boundaries, executives and their organizations will need to create new jobs and new roles with technology at their core. They will need to bring their employees on their digital transformation journey by investing in new ways to train and reskill employees for the post-digital age.”

That same “catch up” mentality applies to patients as well, says Safavi, saying that the report shows that “health executives will need to maintain consumer loyalty by staying one step ahead of these trends and providing convenient and efficient care for their patients.”

Part of that catching up also requires healthcare organizations to maintain patient trust with how organizations deal with sensitive patient data. According to the report, organizations need to be clear about how they are going to handle data privacy, data stewardship, and consent.

Nicholas Hamm is an editor with Managed Healthcare Executive