5 Common Healthcare Digital Transformation Challenges

healthcare digital transformation challenges

Healthcare digital transformation challenges can stymie innovation within the healthcare space. Overcoming these can be a cost-effective catalyst for improving healthcare outcomes and enhancing patient and provider experiences. Like many other industries, healthcare has seen a digital technology evolution but has progressed slower than other industries due to its unique challenges.

Here, we highlight common healthcare digital transformation challenges, including regulatory hurdles, funding constraints, resistance to change, interoperability issues, and data privacy and security concerns.

Challenge 1: Regulatory Hurdles

Regulatory bodies such as the Federal Drug Administration, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Department for Health and Human Services have stringent regulations for the development and use of medical devices and software, making it challenging for innovation teams to keep up with the numerous changes. Whether it’s ensuring that patient data privacy and security are maintained or that a digital technology is safe to be implanted into human bodies, such as an electronic pacemaker, the rules innovators must adhere to can be cumbersome to understand and follow.

These regulatory hurdles slow the development process and delay time-to-market as innovators comply with additional paperwork and wait for regulatory approval. Regulatory hurdles can be seen in almost every aspect of healthcare digital transformation, such as adherence to HIPAA for electronic medical records, navigating complex reimbursement rules for documented treatments, and obtaining regulatory and payer approval for the use of new medical devices and medications.

Challenge 2: Funding Constraints

Capital allocation is challenging for any team trying to innovate, as there is uncertainty about where to invest resources and what to outsource versus what to develop in-house. Funding constraints can also limit the ability of innovation teams to develop and trial new technologies, slowing the process. Examples include limited budgets, the high cost of research and development, and a lack of venture capital funding.

Challenge 3: Resistance to Change

Resistance to change is a common challenge in healthcare innovation. Innovative teams need to answer the question of why current providers will adopt their technology and explore how to obtain feedback. New entrants frequently face marketing challenges involving provider awareness of innovative digital solutions. The healthcare industry is traditionally slow to adopt new technologies, partly due to long technology-use contract agreements, making it challenging to sell innovative products. One well-known example of resistance to change is the need for the HITECH Act to promote electronic health record implementation.

Challenge 4: Interoperability Issues

Interoperability is a problem in healthcare innovation, and integrating innovative technology with systems that providers already have can be difficult. For example, combining data collection from new digital technology with legacy electronic medical records can be challenging due to differences in how these solutions were programmed. Another excellent example is integrating communication systems within technologies to enable better communication among teams of providers and patients. While there are organizations like Health Level Seven (HL7) that are making efforts to promote healthcare data interoperability, it is still challenging to develop technology that is adherent to HL7 recommendations.

Challenge 5: Data Privacy and Security

Data privacy and security arguably are the epitome of healthcare digital transformation challenges because they incorporate nearly all the others. Within healthcare, data privacy and security often lead to numerous regulatory requirements and paperwork. They are also expensive to incorporate and maintain into technology. Providers are concerned about adopting new technology because it may put their practice at legal and financial risk if privacy and security issues arise. Security measures in place may also interfere with the ability of legacy technologies to communicate with new ones.

Trust is a major part of the healthcare experience for patients, so it is paramount that technology innovators appropriately address data privacy and security considerations when developing new technologies, ranging from concerns of data breaches to misuse of patient data.

Strategies to Overcome Healthcare Innovation Challenges

Collaboration and partnerships, digital transformation, advocacy and education, and government support are strategies that can help you overcome healthcare innovation challenges. Collaboration and partnerships involve seeking counsel from those who have experience and knowledge in each of these areas. Embrace digital transformation by looking at other industries for ideas on how to solve similar problems in healthcare. Advocacy and education involve recommending the adoption of new technologies and teaching healthcare providers about the benefits of innovation. Finally, government support can provide funding and easy-to-understand regulatory guidance for organizations looking to innovate within healthcare.

Organizations that are striving to go to market quickly with their new healthcare technology should plan for all these common challenges and know how to overcome them with teamwork, knowledge sharing, advocacy, and education.

Here at OtterSoft, we help healthcare technology providers drive innovation and integrate smoothly with legacy systems to keep things in motion, address the challenges of healthcare innovation, and seamlessly sync information. To see how we can help you overcome the challenges of healthcare innovation, contact us today!