- Digital transformation is increasingly seen as key to transforming care delivery and improving patient outcomes
- New research from Siemens Financial Services identifies remote access and communications platforms as one of the key areas of investment for digital transformation in healthcare
- The report estimates the capital investment required for Remote Access and Communications Platforms (telemedicine) in the UK to be $1.8 billion (£1.4 billion) over the five-year period 2019-2023
- Private capital is increasingly deployed by healthcare institutions which may not have sufficient available capital to invest in wholesale digital transformation
A new report launched by Siemens Financial Services (SFS) has identified the priority investment areas for digital transformation in healthcare, the value of the investment challenge, and how to overcome the financial barriers to digitalisation.
And respondents highlighted remote access and communications platforms, commonly known as telemedicine, as one of the top three enabling technology investment areas, which they judged to hold the highest potential for rapid positive impact on pressurised healthcare infrastructures and operations.
The other two key areas are new-generation (digitalised and/or mobile) diagnostics; and smart digitalised hospitals.
SFS interviewed respondents from around the world - specialist management consultants, academic commentators, national health departments, medical associations and acute care organisations/groups – to understand where they considered the greatest and quickest value would come from digitalisation in healthcare.
Using specialist knowledge of the healthcare sector, each individual arrangement, whether for a single piece of equipment, or for an enterprise-wide strategic digital upgrade, can be flexed to meet the organisation’s particular clinical and cash-flow needs
And, as healthcare systems across the globe suffer from skills shortages and demand for services increases, new ways of working are required to provide patients with access to the help they need.
By enabling patients to consult a doctor remotely, digital telemedicine can help to counter the skills shortage faced by many healthcare systems.
Tele-consultations, for example, help to overcome the issue of an unevenly-dispersed healthcare workforce and are therefore particularly beneficial in rural areas where access tends to be lower.
Telemedicine also links doctors to diagnostic equipment and centres, analytical staff, clinical specialists, diagnostic and therapy databases and surgical centres, in dispersed locations.
By extending patient care outside of the clinical setting, digital telemedicine helps minimise unnecessary hospital visits and creates greater flexibility for both healthcare professionals and patients.
And, in the current lockdown state due to coronavirus, such technologies could also help to prevent the spread on infection by minimising direct contact between people.
SFS’ research conservatively estimates the ‘investment challenge’ in the UK for the top investment areas to amount to very-considerable sums over the next five years. Telemedicine alone, it predicts, will require a $1.8 billion (£1.4 billion) investment in the UK across the five-year period 2019-2023.
Given that capital spending budgets in healthcare around the world are typically around 5% of total operating budgets, such a scale of investment is not within the capabilities of normal funding levels.
A range of financing tools are available, which are designed to enable digital transformation by allowing healthcare organisations to pay to use the new-generation technology. This helps them save precious capital while realising the benefits of digitalisation
Healthcare systems are, therefore, increasingly harnessing private-sector capital, in particular using flexible ‘pay for usage’ financing arrangements, from specialist providers that offer a sustainable means to achieving digital transformation.
These allow the monthly cost of access to essential digitalised technology – usually a combination of hardware and software – to be aligned with the rate of benefit being gained, such as reduced diagnostic error rates, improved time per procedure, more-rapid triage, wider access to healthcare services, and so on.
“Using specialist knowledge of the healthcare sector, each individual arrangement, whether for a single piece of equipment, or for an enterprise-wide strategic digital upgrade, can be flexed to meet the organisation’s particular clinical and cash-flow needs,” says Chris Wilkinson, head of sales for healthcare and public sector at Siemens Financial Services in the UK.
“A range of financing tools are available, which are designed to enable digital transformation by allowing healthcare organisations to pay to use the new-generation technology. This helps them save precious capital while realising the benefits of digitalisation.”