Patients’ expectations are driving change in healthcare
Last November, we took over 30 Belgian healthcare professionals on a study trip to the Medica trade fair in Düsseldorf. It’s the second time SecureLink organizes a trip like this, and just like the first time, we had an ulterior motive. The healthcare market is one of our most important markets, and we know it well. That means we know that healthcare love to catch up with their peers to discuss the trends and challenges that take up a lot of their time.
During the trip, we were joined by five healthcare experts. Together with what we saw at the fair, they provided a framework for further discussions and workshops. Just like last year, the study trip proved highly successful and insightful.
Doctor Google & online ratings
Of course, the changing expectations in healthcare were a central topic. The internet culture is rapidly changing the entire industry, mainly because patients are becoming more informed. That doesn’t mean they can self-diagnose using doctor Google (as this is actually a dangerous practice in need of a remedy), but it does mean patients start rating doctors and hospitals.
At the same time, the entire financial model is changing. To keep the social security system affordable, politicians and the healthcare industry are figuring out how exactly healthcare could be funded more efficiently. Many healthcare professionals assume that in the near future their hospitals will have to work with set budgets. This means the old model, in which consultations generate income, will soon end. In other words: operational efficiency and patient satisfaction are becoming more important than ever.
The healthcare professionals realize that hospitals need to change to meet customer demand, just like any other industry. They know they need to implement new and digital features, not only to increase internal efficiency but also to enable modern applications. The electronic patient file is a prime example of this: every hospital in Belgium is working on implementing it, mainly to streamline internal operations. In the meantime, we’re seeing examples abroad of these files being made accessible to the patients themselves through apps that allow them to link their health care data with for example their Apple watch.
The professionals attending the trip know a mindset change within the industry is essential if they want to rise up to the challenge. As is so often the case, they still seem to struggle on the budget side of things. IT, and luckily security as well, are rocketing to the top in terms of financial priorities, but we aren’t there yet.
Unprecedented risks ahead
One thing is clear: the future of healthcare is data-driven. At Medica, we saw the products supporting the aforementioned change. Think automated ORs, IoT-solutions such as the smart devices from ihealthlab and more. The prominence of Asian companies is notable, as they seem to be at the forefront of the healthcare digitalization. Hospitals in Flanders are already implementing some of the solutions they have to offer.
As for SecureLink, the trip emphasized the importance of our role in the years to come. Security has always been an important part of the digitalization process, but the stakes are higher than ever. As professionals are looking for ways to digitize and optimize the way patients move through the hospital, it’s up to us to provide adequate security. After all, we are facing unprecedented risks. Hackers will not only be able to steal personal data, in a worst-case scenario they could alter records containing prescriptions and guidelines for treatment. Together with the healthcare industry, we’ll continue to make sure that any hospital is properly secured and ready for the future.