The digital transformation of health care has gained momentum since the pandemic began. As COVID-19 spread through the world, many health care systems introduced measures like vaccine passports, QR code-based identification, virtual care and telehealth services, predictive analytics systems, and governance structures for sharing data and back office digital resources. In one recent BCG survey, health care leaders said that advances in technology, propelled by the crisis, helped them overcome decades of inertia in their organizations.
These achievements are impressive in many ways, but they are not enough. First, they do not deliver on the primary goal of health care systems around the world: fundamental improvement in patient outcomes.
Second, they are not comprehensive enough to be prepared for the health care challenges to come. Despite improvements made to manage the pandemic response, many health care systems still have fragmented IT infrastructure, incompatible standards, and narrow activities that only apply to specific organizations. Digital health care transformation initiatives still tend to be oriented toward the technology itself, rather than better patient outcomes or the system’s capacity to deliver them.
As the pandemic moves into its next phase, health care ministries and agencies should be thinking about creating more comprehensive digital platforms and systems to provide the improved, patient-centric health care that people deserve. They have an opportunity to maximize the benefits of the technology—not just cutting costs but bringing disparate parts of the system together, improving long-standing practices that restrain health care quality, and achieving their patient-centric goals.