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The Pandemic Is Accelerating The Process Of Digital Transformation In The Healthcare Industry

Luis Navas

CEO Conexia |

Prescripción electrónica de medicamentos

The process of digital transformation in healthcare companies is largely still pending. In other industries this transformation is advanced and its impact on the efficiency and quality of its services is evident.

Clear examples are the financial sector with digital banking or the retail sector with the proliferation of online sales. In this regard, the healthcare industry still has a way to go. This is good and bad news. The bad news is that healthcare companies are operating below the possible level of efficiency. The good news is that there are many opportunities for improvement, some relatively simple to achieve.

Prior to the pandemic, there was already a debate in the healthcare industry about what would be the best path to a process of digital transformation and what the expected achievements should be, but the pace of that change remained slow. While there was a perception that things were not working as efficiently as possible, there was no pressing reason for a change.

The pandemic radically changed this perspective. The different actors of the healthcare ecosystem were forced to react quickly, allowing them to operate in conditions they had never faced before, thereby demonstrating resilience and adaptability.A major trigger was that, as demand for traditional medical services fell, there was an explosive demand for medical services to serve those affected by the pandemic. All this, in the midst of strong restrictions of face-to-face attention.

Thus, the healthcare industry quickly incorporated safety protocols and technologies such as teleconsultation which enabled the remote care of outpatients. One example of this is in Colombia, where the number of teleconsultations grew from 80,000 in all of 2019 to more than 4 million in the first 9 months of 2020..

The Electronic prescription of medicines became an imperative need and its use was quickly regulated in markets that had not yet done so. Pharmacies also had to adapt their processes to incorporate electronic prescriptions into the drug dispensing process.

This unexpected context left the analog administrative processes exposed in all their weaknesses, many of which were interrupted or delayed by the remote work of the employees, forcing the companies to urgently generate alternative processes, mostly digitalized.

With the advent of the pandemic, the impact on the healthcare industry was very high but, with the same intensity, so was the learning curve of consumers of medical services, who having their first experience with telemedicine, had to learn to schedule appointments electronically and to handle files and medical documentation in digital forms.

Consequently, it is highly unlikely that patients will leave behind all these newly learned processes once the pandemic has passed. Quite the contrary, after a prolonged period operating in this way, surely this learning will have become part of their daily lives. These changes in the behavior of medical service users will have lasting effects and will force healthcare organizations to redefine their processes and, in some cases, generate new processes.

In short, the pandemic clearly set out the case for accelerating the process of digital transformation in an industry that has been lagging behind for many years and any possible setbacks will be very difficult to overcome. The process of digital transformation of the healthcare industry has officially begun.

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