Luiz Reis
Director of Growth, Latam


Expert Contributor

The Moment of Truth in the Digitization of the Health Sector

By Luis Reis | Wed, 09/21/2022 - 13:00

There is no time. The speed with which the world of business and life in general passes has forced companies to ride the digital wave to respond to consumer needs in real time. It's time to jump into the wave or be left behind.

All industries have undergone transformations in the last two years but in the particular case of the health sector, the situation triggered by COVID-19 caused an isolation that accelerated digital transformation, including many changes in administrative processes in clinics and hospitals.

Today, more than two years after the start of the pandemic, can we say that the health industry has reached digital maturity? How have we advanced and what else is needed for technology to be a fundamental part of patient care and higher-quality hospital services?

The Digital Legacy of the Pandemic

For decades we have known that digital transformation was essential for greater efficiency in the health system. The pandemic not only  proved that this fact was real but also accelerated the process.

The point at which the health sector finds itself today is marked by the advances of recent months. Entities in this area were able to continue providing assistance in the midst of a crisis, thanks to the professionalism of health personnel and adaptation through the use of technology.

The trends that have been glimpsed in recent years are today part of the daily operation of the sector and the basis for the years to come:

  • The use of digital tools for better administration of health institutions continues to advance. Many digital processes adopted when the pandemic emerged have proven effective and are here to stay. Cloud solutions and specialized management systems helped maintain order in difficult times, and continue to do so.

  • An efficient supply with the use of analytics for the strategic planning of stocks. The topic was vital in the pandemic and will continue to be so to maintain quality care for patients.

  • A change in the mindset of experienced leaders, which led to the emergence of innovative and agile profiles to adapt to a scenario of permanent change. The leaders who were able to unlearn and learn new ways of thinking, evaluating and dealing with management in a pandemic became an example for their teams for the future.

  • The digital relationship of service providers and financiers with their suppliers was strengthened. The use of specialized marketplaces in the sector acquires a new importance in an interconnected world of health providers and institutions that seek the best and fastest solutions.

  • Digital technologies have maintained communication despite isolation, which has not completely disappeared and has changed the way of doing business. In administration, even in the operation of health services, teleconferences and the use of tools such as applications are still valid.

  • The value of the information. Millions of rapidly analyzed data enabled better decisions to be made at critical moments and in real time. Today, this information allows the creation of models that prospect trends that help to plan a better patient care.

The Moment of Truth

We have talked a lot about the changes that have occurred since the pandemic began. The interesting thing now is to take advantage of all those lessons learned to continue building a solid health sector, facing the challenges of the future.

We are at the so-called moment of truth, the turning point in which we have to decide as an industry how to apply all digital tools and continue to streamline processes in operational and administrative areas through technology. Clinging to the practices of the past does not work when experience has shown us that we can be more efficient through innovation.

The report, Transformation with a Digital Sense. A new rhythm in digital maturity in Latin America, carried out by the consulting firm EY, clearly illustrates the current moment that the industry is going through. The document shares the Digital Maturity Index (DMI) in several sectors, in different Latin American countries, based on surveys carried out on various relevant actors. 

According to the study, the DMI in the health sector in 2022 is 63 points, four more than the 59 points registered last year. The data is encouraging considering that the average of all the industries in the region fell two points, from 63 to 61. Apparently the leadership in the sector has maintained interest and commitment to continuous digitization; another fact that proves that is that the sector’s digital transformation budget increased by almost 57 percent in one year, ranking fourth in budget growth among all industries.

What’s Next?

Although in Latin American countries there is still much work to be done on digital transformation in health, with governments, leading players in the sector, as well as health and IT professionals, innovation is already here. Regulations are needed, which reflect on all the actors in the health segment, so that they can climb to the next level. 

It is important to accelerate processes to create reliable companies that can guarantee security, data protection and agility in service to gain the next level. This also requires innovative digital tools, whether public or private, and the participation of relevant actors to reach the ultimate goal of providing greater efficiency that ultimately results in a better experience for the patient.

It is the moment of truth. The time to make the decision to ride the wave of digitization is today.

Photo by:   Luiz Reis