The Five Future Trends that are Disrupting Healthcare IT

Doctor touching hologram screen displaying healthcare running symbols

Digital transformation in healthcare comes with a unique set of challenges. The commercial space has outpaced healthcare significantly when it comes to risk-taking innovation and tech adoption. Despite rallying calls for digital transformation across the healthcare industry, recent reports show a mere 7% of hospitals have fully embraced the digital renaissance.

Thankfully, things are starting to change. The overall atmosphere of the healthcare industry is bullish on digital transformation. But the frictions involved in successfully implementing these technologies have made adoptions a slower process than in most other industries. Not only are their organizational resistances to change, but healthcare providers have been waiting patiently to see how digital transformation impacts their peers — leaving most hospitals wary of change despite touted benefits.

To be clear, technology isn't the roadblock to success. The technology is already here. According to McKinsey, the three biggest challenges to digital transformation aren't technology-related. They're organizational structure, governance, and culture.

Digitally savvy CIOs and CMIOs are barreling through these frictions and picking up the pace of tech adoption to help them maximize workflows to improve patient outcomes. Leading healthcare systems are already embracing automation in the form of workflow management, medical records scanning, and revenue cycle management to help them improve patient experiences and reduce cost burdens across their organizational architecture.

Digital transformation is no longer the cloud on the horizon. Healthcare IT leaders are finding ways to incorporate technology to remain relevant in today's hyper-competitive healthcare landscape. And, over the next few years, there will be a surge in tech adoption across the healthcare industry — especially when it comes to back-end processes fueled by digital transformation.

Challenging traditional healthcare models can significantly disrupt healthcare delivery — resulting in improvements on an organizational level down to patient care. Here are the five healthcare IT trends that are driving healthcare forward in 2020.

1. Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is Now a Driving Force for Digital Transformation in Healthcare

Business process outsourcing (BPO) involves contracting critical  business processes to third-party providers.

As healthcare continues to look for ways to reduce capital intensive business processes, business process outsourcing (BPO) is making incredible gains. Over the next two years, BPO spending in the healthcare field is expected to swell to $312.43 billion. For healthcare institutions still dipping their toes in digital transformation, BPO positions itself as a critical tool to reduce the financial burdens of records management, document imaging, and enterprise content management (ECM).

Healthcare has an immense documentation burden. From microfilm, microfiche, and aperture card scanning to overall documentation tracking and management, almost every hospital has in-house systems that help them handle all of their documents and cards. BPO gives hospitals the opportunity to automate those processes to reduce costs, improve efficiencies, and eliminate pesky task redundancies.

The rapid growth of BPO is fueled by a lack of risk-taking. You don't have to reshape organizational processes or disrupt patient care routines to leverage business process outsourcing. In fact, BPO removes some of your day-to-day frictions and gives you the opportunity to reign resources in and hyper-focus on patient care — not document management.


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2. Medical Records Scanning is an Easy-to-Adopt BPO Component That Can Spark Innovation

Medical records scanning is a BPO process that involves using a third-party to digitize patient charts and files for your EMR.

  • 72% of hospitals are using full-time employees to scan medical records
  • 28% of hospitals are scanning every medical record
  • 42% of doctors say that EMR causes burnout

Business process management is an intricate transformation. It can permeate every layer of your process architecture. So, it's only natural that some hospitals will have a difficult time adopting full-scale BPO. But you don't have to jump headfirst into the waters. Medical records scanning presents itself as one of the most impactful ways to onboard a BPO function without significantly disrupting your entire hospital ecosystem.

In the United States, electronic medical records are only part of routine care for 35% of hospitals. That number plummets to 1% in Europe. Hospitals typically have to hire an entire staff simply to scan medical records and upload them for data analysis and predictive modeling. Outsourcing this process is going to be one of the first steps hospitals take on the road to big data adoption. Hospitals need to extract all of that valuable data, and outsourcing and automating that process will help drive value into the data systems they're pouring capital into.

Process Automation on the Mechanism of Metal Gears.

3. Robotic Process Automation Promises to Improve Accuracy and Reduce Manual Repetition

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is technology that uses software "robots" to automate human tasks.

The future of RPA is unbelievably strong. The use cases for RPA are virtually limitless. RPA can streamline claims management, improve healthcare cycles, and minimize claims frustrations. This is one of the healthcare IT trends that's set to explode over the next few years. According to Deloitte, over 50% of hospitals could hit negative margins by 2025 due to regulatory pressures, payer mix changes, and rising labor costs.

To combat these margin pressures, hospitals need to find ways to leverage technology to improve efficiencies and reduce process issues that stall revenue. RPA tackles both issues. With RPA, hospitals can orchestrate a complex web of robots that automate human tasks to reduce errors, improve throughput, and minimize process redundancies. RPA also promises to free workers up to focus on patient care and additional revenue streams, which can help reduce some of those margin pressures and increase overall quality-of-care for patients.

4.  Workflow Automation Promises Big Gains for Overall Healthcare Quality

Workflow automation software applies automation to administrative healthcare workflows.

Workflow automation that can collate and coordinate workflows is another growing trend in the healthcare space. These technologies, aimed at improving front office productivity, promise to reduce caregiver and administrator pain points. From high-speed scanning of paper claims to reducing mundane and repetitive tasks, workflow automation provides a burst of value immediately.

There's a deep relationship between workflow automation and RPA (one is often powered by the other). But even without sophisticated AI, workflow automation can still strip away some of the most basic processes. Once healthcare systems see this initial value, finding ways to leverage workflow automation on a deeper level via RPA bot orchestrations will seem more financially viable.

5. Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) Continues to Ignite Financial Viability

Revenue cycle management (RCM) automates and tracks revenue from patient intake until final payment.

  • 72% of hospital CFOs consider RCM a critical component of their outsourcing needs.
  • 83% of hospitals outsource accounts receivable

RCM is both a current and a future hospital IT trend. 54% of healthcare CFOs already buy into the promise of RCM improving efficiency and financial health. From the patient intake process to minimizing write-offs, reconciling claims, charge capture, and statement processing, RCM maximizes the overall revenue of every patient.

As the healthcare industry continues to struggle with financial viability in the face of growing regulatory pressures and changes to Medicare and insurance, solidifying your revenue cycle can help spark financial growth.  RCM helps hospitals navigate the complex healthcare revenue ecosystem by reducing manual touchpoints and automating every step in the healthcare revenue cycle.

How to Get Started on the Road to Healthcare Digital Transformation

The first steps towards digital transformation happen at the administrative level. From billing processes to medical records scanning and RPA orchestration, technology is poised to make a significant impact on how hospitals operate within the next few years. Of course, this technology couldn't have come at a better time. The financial pressures facing hospital systems are threatening bottom lines and impacting hospital networks' ability to improve patient care.

DRS Imaging provides a complete line of outsourcing services. From BPO processes like medical records scanning to RCM and workflow automation, DRS can help your hospital embrace the future of healthcare technology while reducing financial burdens. Are you ready to learn more about how DRS Imaging can help your hospital system thrive in today's hyper-competitive healthcare ecosystem? Contact us. These may be future trends that can help you gain a competitive advantage today. But they will be commonplace systems in the next few years. Get ahead of the curve with DRS Imaging.


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