The healthcare market has faced new challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic—and closer scrutiny than ever before.
And healthcare providers worldwide are struggling, according to Deloitte’s 2022 Global Health Care Outlook.
Patient loads surge unpredictably with each new COVID variant.
Healthcare workers are burning out and leaving the industry, causing workforce shortages.
Supply chain disruptions continue, making it difficult to get new equipment to upgrade insufficient or outdated facilities.
The flagging economy is driving up health systems’ costs, too.
All of these factors force healthcare systems to seek new ways to meet quality care goals targets and reduce costs.
Many view technology as the solution.
Hospitals and healthcare systems see great promise in cloud computing, 5G telecommunications, artificial intelligence (AI), and interoperable data and analytics. As a result, they are eagerly exploring these technologies as solutions to their challenges.
Deloitte’s report provides an inside look at emerging healthcare technology needs. As one of the best healthcare market research firms in the world, Deloitte has access to industry leaders.
This article provides a summary of Deloitte’s findings and insights into the opportunities for innovators and startups in the 2022 healthcare software development space.
The Rise of Healthcare Consumerism
A big driver of technology adoption in the healthcare market is healthcare consumerism.
Changing laws and greater access to healthcare pricing information have made the industry more competitive.
Healthcare consumers can now “shop around” for the best deal on medical care in the same way that they can seek good deals on non-health services.
As a result, patient loyalty has diminished. Care providers, health plans, and related health businesses find it more difficult to retain patients.
Many providers are turning to software to meet healthcare consumers’ changing needs and expectations, improve patient engagement, and deliver a better patient experience.
Technology for patient portals, telehealth, and remote patient monitoring are some of the solutions these providers seek.
Another healthcare technology driver is the need to integrate care.
Healthcare providers in small towns and rural communities don’t always have access to the specialists or facilities they need. Or they may have limited funding and need to maximize their resources.
Interoperable healthcare technology gives these providers the ability to remotely access the resources they need.
“It’s about meeting patients where they are,” said Neal Batra, Principal Partner at Deloitte. “Using digital technologies to construct, staff, and equip a ‘hospital without walls’ that blends inpatient care with alternative models including community- and home-based care.”
Batra predicts that patients and their families will soon have greater control over their care and need advanced healthcare apps to help them exercise that control.
Technology innovators and startups must be vigilant about healthcare compliance when creating new health apps.
Steep financial penalties and even jail time can face companies that violate HIPAA, HITECH, PIPEDA, GDPR, and similar healthcare industry regulations.
Regulators, physicians, nurses, and patients need to feel confident that new healthcare technologies are safe and effective.
Even minor violations can incur tens of thousands of dollars in fines—for both the software’s creator and its users.
To be successful, software companies must adhere closely to healthcare regulations and ensure data security.
Virtual Healthcare: Prime for Innovation
Virtual healthcare offers many opportunities for healthcare technology innovators.
As providers shift toward consumer-centric care, they’ll seek more virtual and remote healthcare solutions.
Why? Because healthcare organizations see the potential of virtual care solutions to increase consumers’ access to care and make it more convenient for patients to get care.
Providers also recognize virtual healthcare’s promise for reducing the total
cost of care. They hope to optimize revenue for virtual health through consistent reimbursement models and risk-sharing arrangements with health insurers.
As a result, healthcare organizations will seek interoperable platforms and solutions that offer effortless integration between insurers, providers, healthcare retailers, and related businesses.
This interoperability will also enable continuity of care. As providers guide patients to appropriate care sites, they need solutions that allow for a secure, two-way transfer of patient health information (PHI).
And interoperability with fitness trackers and other such tools will enable physicians to get patients engaged in their health.
Many providers are looking to virtual healthcare technology to help them improve the care services they deliver.
“COVID-19 illuminated care model deficiencies that technologies could help solve,” said Dr. Bruce Green, Managing Director and Chief Medical Officer for Deloitte’s Federal Health practice. “In addition to shortening the pathways to care, virtual health can stabilize the supply of physicians and increase the overall capacity of the health care system by multiplying the reach of each physician through digital pathways.”
Green noted that most hospitals have already integrated telehealth as a way to make access to their specialists more convenient. In addition, some providers are expanding their telehealth services to create new revenue streams.
Healthcare in the Cloud
Many hospitals and healthcare organizations are also adopting and investing in cloud solutions.
The reason is simple: cost efficiency.
Many organizations initially turned to the cloud for disaster recovery. They found this move reduced costs significantly while exposing them to less risk.
Now they’re looking to cloud solutions — as well as Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) technologies — to further reduce costs.
Cloud solutions offer providers cost-effective ways to improve operations, reduce spending, and eliminate budget-eating physical data centers.
In addition, Deloitte found that health systems outside of the United States are moving their electronic health record (EHR) systems to the cloud.
“I would be hard-pressed to name a health care organization that’s not using some cloud-related services,” said Tracey Aegerter, Principal at Deloitte. She added that health organizations turn to the cloud not only for cost efficiency, but also to improve the patient flow process and strengthen data security and cyber controls.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Providers are also exploring technology to support remote care and patient monitoring.
An increasing number of physicians use wearable AI and sensors that can passively monitor and collect a patient’s vital health data. If such a device detects an interventional event, it alerts healthcare workers for follow-up.
Some additional technologies utilized include:
- Mobile apps
- Virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR)
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
- Data analytics
These solutions give physicians a more inclusive view of their patients and allow for a higher degree of doctor-patient engagement.
They also increase patient safety. For example, remote care applications help ensure the patient receives care from the most appropriate provider during a health emergency.
Finally, technology innovators and startups may want to heed Deloitte’s recommendations for immediate “no-regret moves” healthcare systems can make.
“Bold plays in digital can help health systems solve a range of clinical and operational challenges and unwrap opportunities to move them along the path to the Future of Health,” the report states.
The authors of the report list six recommendations:
- Invest in 5G infrastructure, including in remote regions.
- Move contact centers to the cloud.
- Create a delivery system without walls.
- Strengthen interoperability and connectivity.
- Broaden the concept of partnering.
- Explore artificial intelligence and big data.
Healthcare software developers working on related applications may find providers eager to adopt their solutions.
Accelerating Software Development
Healthcare providers are hungry for technology to help them overcome the challenges of a changing market in 2022. Their needs present several opportunities for innovators in the health software space.
Time to market could become a critical success factor for healthcare software development companies. To stay ahead of the competition, these companies will need to rapidly develop applications that are stable, secure, and compliant with healthcare industry regulations.
To learn more about accelerating development, read our healthcare software development guide. Or contact Taazaa to find out how we can help increase your development speed, maintain high software quality and compliance, and accelerate your time to market.