As the use of electronic health records (EHR) systems has become pervasive among healthcare providers, some resellers have turned away from the healthcare marketplace thinking there is no opportunity for additional technology sales. But technology spending is rapidly increasing, driven primarily by cloud, telemedicine, interoperability, automation, and security, leaving plenty of room for you to find new revenue in this giant marketplace.
The Healthcare Opportunity is Huge
There are more than 6,000 hospitals and almost 1 million doctors in the United States, and they all use technology to improve patient care and to streamline business functions. In our rapidly changing environment and partially driven by marketplace shifts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, technology spending by healthcare practitioners is rapidly increasing. Markets and Markets estimates the global technology spend for healthcare solutions was $326.1 billion in 2021 and will grow to $821.1 billion by 2026.
Critical Technology Trends You Can Leverage
What is driving the growing technology spend for healthcare providers? The pandemic accelerated both the need for healthcare services and a shortage among available workers — squeezing providers on both sides as demand outstripped their ability to supply timely services. They’re turning to technology to streamline office systems and to enable them to put more time and focus on patients. Five critical technologies are driving the increase in spending on technology. Let’s take a look at each one.
Cloud Becomes the Foundation
It’s dominated the technology landscape for a little over a decade, but some healthcare providers were slow to adopt cloud services. When the need for seamless, secure access from any location to systems and records became paramount during the COVID pandemic, providers using cloud switched much more quickly and with fewer problems than those reliant on in-office software or even physical paper-based records systems. It’s clear that cloud should be the foundation for healthcare providers and hospitals, so they are converting remaining systems.
How is this trend important for you? If you don’t already offer enterprise content management (ECM) or automation — especially simple automated workflow — in the cloud, now is the time!
Many of us experienced our first telehealth service sometime within the last couple of years thanks to widespread stay-at-home orders and the need to quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID. In fact, Deloitte estimates there has been a 70% increase in virtual health use since 2020. As experts predict this is a trend that will stick, providers are turning from stopgap solutions chosen quickly to enable basic services to now looking for technologies to provide a base for virtual health for years to come. How do you get in on this spend?
Markets and Markets indicates that telehealth is a key factor driving increased technology spending by healthcare providers, so you’ll want to get your sales and marketing messages clean and clear about how your technology offerings enable remote work and telehealth. Security was one shortcut taken by many providers early in the pandemic but it’s something they cannot continue to compromise on. They’re looking to improve data security during remote work with today’s technology purchases. Learn more about how your offerings can help in this Workflow article.
Internal Systems Connect
Interoperability is something of a buzzword in the healthcare industry these days as providers work to enable EHR systems to share patient information with providers across facilities. As a result, they’re eying other business systems and records to find efficiencies from sharing records as well. Just how important is interoperability for healthcare?
- 84% of physicians say ease-of-use and seamless integration of technology is essential to any successful practice.
- Markets and Markets notes that interoperability is a key factor driving the increase in technology spending in the healthcare marketplace.
As you know, ECM systems make it easy to “image enable” virtually any other line-of-business system so workers can access any record they might need to enter data or make decisions in other applications. Robotic process automation (RPA) makes it easy to automatically share information between systems and to automate other routine tasks that streamline and simplify information sharing across a hospital or healthcare practice. Make sure interoperability and integration are core parts of your marketing messages to healthcare buyers.
Like most other industries and businesses, automation is at the forefront of technology initiatives for healthcare companies this year. During the pandemic, non-essential workers in departments like records and accounting worked from remote locations, putting a spotlight on the need for automation. Further, automation typically streamlines mundane tasks rather than entire jobs. Employees who no longer have to pass documents hand-to-hand or manually enter data report higher job satisfaction and higher levels of engagement with their employer. Think automation isn’t important? Consider the cost to primary care providers who spend 5.9 hours daily on manual data entry.
Successful sales and marketing campaigns will emphasize the time and cost savings offered by automation along with an ability to support better patient care and more engaging work for employees. Be sure your automation product is easy enough to set up that users can make their own modifications to workflows as needed.
Security Needs Increase
Data security sits at the forefront for healthcare providers, because they manage and store protected health information (PHI). Much of the security for PHI is provided by the health records system, but other parts of the business are less well-protected. Consider the following concerning statistics:
- Between 2009 and 2017 there have been 2,181 healthcare data breaches involving more than 500 records. Those breaches have resulted in the theft/exposure of 176,709,305 healthcare records. That equates to more than 50% of the population of the United States (54.25%). Healthcare data breaches are now being reported at a rate of more than one per day.
- Veronis notes healthcare takes the longest to discover data breaches (325 days on average) and has the highest average cost at $7.13 million per breach.
Information management systems offer significant security advantages for healthcare providers who are not getting the cybersecurity they need from their EHR. ECM can ingest any type of business record, accommodate multilayered and extremely complex security and access standards, and is designed to enable compliance with many types of regulations through detailed audit logging and extensive reporting. Marketing messaging that emphasizes a partnership between ECM and EHR will create opportunities for technology sales to healthcare providers.
Don’t be fooled by rumors that the healthcare industry is saturated because EHR systems are well-established. Opportunities abound for resellers who support telemedicine, system interoperability, automation, and security on a cloud services foundation. There is plenty of business for technology resellers who key into these five trends.
Christina Robbins is Vice President of Communication Strategy and Marketing at Digitech Systems LLC, one of the most trusted choices for intelligent information management and business process automation worldwide. Celebrated by industry analysts and insiders as the best enterprise content management and workflow solutions on the market, Digitech Systems has an unsurpassed legacy of accelerating business performance by streamlining digital processes for organizations of any size. For more information visit www.digitechsystems.com.