Most media outlets have covered the success companies found moving operations online during lockdowns. Programmers, for example, recently discussed the auction industry as a digital modernization success story during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, fewer publications outline why companies will need to continuously modernize systems in 2022 and beyond.

In the years following the pandemic, some companies will try to leverage the digital infrastructure they built in 2020 and 2021 without making meaningful investments in modernization. They will often find themselves falling behind competitors and failing to meet customer demand.

The healthcare industry encapsulates the success many industries saw migrating to digital systems during lockdowns. It is also a case study on why companies need to continue improving on these good first steps. Below, discover several ongoing concerns in healthcare IT and how continuous modernization can address them.

Taking the Burden Off Physicians With Automation

In 2020, new digital platforms and telehealth services allowed patients to ask all the questions they needed from the safety of their homes. There was only one major downside: A physician often had to be on the other end to answer these pressing questions. A September 2021 Politico article noted that patient inquiries rose 151% in the first few weeks of the pandemic and never waned. The same article reported that physicians receiving a disproportionately large number of these messages were six times more likely to experience “high exhaustion.”

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Moving forward, healthcare tech companies producing these portals and telehealth services will need to address physician burnout. These professionals must feel that their time and wellbeing are priorities in each new update. Tech companies still, however, cannot sacrifice the patient experience while making these iterative improvements.

One of the most popular solutions is automating physicians’ answers to simple questions. In an ideal world, systems would only automate responses to questions that do not need the highly skilled input of a physician. However, finding consensus on what is and isn’t an entry-level question may prove difficult. Software companies will likely have to work with physicians and healthcare organizations long-term to find the ideal middle ground.

Optimizing Scheduling Systems

In October 2020, the United States Veterans Health Administration deployed a new scheduling product as part of its EHR system at a center in Washington state, among other facilities. The organization hoped this system would meet all of its scheduling needs at a demanding time during the pandemic. There were many promising signs soon after deployment, too, including feedback that the software was easy to use.

However, a recently-published report from the Office of Inspector General noted several key downsides to the current product. According to Healthcare IT News, that included “misleading appointment reminder calls, especially for telehealth.” Also present was “inaccurate, incomplete data migration.”

The demands of the healthcare industry are wide-ranging. Any software deployed to help alleviate issues, whether in scheduling or elsewhere, will need continuous updates. That way, companies can add key features and address shortcomings. In the case of this scheduling system, the Office of Inspector General recommended updates that would add wait time metrics and backup systems that check accuracy.

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Systems Integration in Digital Pathology and Beyond

Modernizing technology is not just about creating new digital products or adding new features to your legacy systems. It is also about ensuring that your systems connect intuitively. Having cutting-edge technology does companies little good if their staff and clients find it cumbersome to navigate. This is particularly true in the healthcare industry, where physicians need easy-to-use programs to assist in their profoundly difficult jobs.

Michael Valante, CTO of Digital Pathology for Dell Technologies, recently joined This Week in Health IT to discuss how a lack of systems integration impacts his field. Valante said technologies such as image management systems and laboratory information systems are sometimes created in digital pathology departments without considering the unified experience. “It’s not just, ‘Hey, let’s get a system in here,” said Valante. “There’s these relationships with other systems that are really important and have to be planned.”

Much of the press’ attention has been on the flashy aspects of the healthcare industry’s rapid digital modernization. However, it is often the aspects of modernization that draw the least attention to themselves that make the most difference to user experience and the company’s bottom line. These include systems integration, enhanced UI/UX, and streamlining code.

Conclusion

Companies in the healthcare industry and beyond made momentous steps forward in digital modernization during the pandemic. This period proved, though, that demand for digital products and services will only increase from here. Companies must view modernization as less of a project and more of a continuing process. Systems integration, automation, responding dynamically to user feedback, and much more are all part of a robust modernization effort.

At Programmers, we’ve worked for over 30 years to implement the digital strategies that bring the most value to companies across industries. That includes countless projects in the healthcare industry in areas such as patient satisfaction and hospital data management. We recently launched our Fast-Track Application Modernization service, which helps companies target the modernization efforts that will bring them meaningful change rapidly. Learn more about the service today to see how modernization can boost your company’s bottom line.