Why is the Healthcare Industry Lagging in Digital Transformation?

by Lauren Cahn

Inefficiencies in the healthcare industry cost the people of the U.S. around $935 billion in annual spending. That’s approximately one-quarter of all dollars spent on U.S. healthcare. The latest issue of PluggedIN, Exela’s quarterly thought leadership news magazine, was devoted to discussing the roots of those inefficiencies, and what can be done to turn things around before losing even more ground (see: PluggedIN: Tell Us Where It Hurts: How Tech Can Heal Healthcare). As the Everest Group has noted, digital transformation can address much of healthcare’s inefficiency. Yet the industry’s adoption of digital transformation initiatives has been “modest”.  It’s not there’s any shortage of transformative technology. Rather, the problem appears to be the industry’s reluctance to embrace the changes digital transformation promises.

So, why the reluctance? Experts pose a variety of explanations, but most boil down to one of the following:


The misconception that medical consumers aren’t chomping at the bit for change

Because relatively few patients seem to be jumping on board with digital health services, many healthcare executives believe patients simply aren’t interested in those services. In fact, the reason patients are slow to adopt digital healthcare is the services being offered aren’t actually services they’re interested in—or worse, they’re of poor quality. If better digital services were offered, it’s entirely possible adoption rates would increase.

The “go big or go home” myth of healthcare transformation

In many industries (and not just healthcare), there’s a misconception that digital offerings have to “dazzle.”  In reality, according to research conducted by McKinsey, healthcare consumers would be happy with just the basics, starting with simplifying navigation of the increasingly complex healthcare system.

Learn how Exela’s Patient Portal improves the experience for payers and providers, along with medical consumers, by simplifying such routine tasks as patient registration, eligibility verification, billing, and payment

The provider shortage

“In the face of the physician shortage in the U.S. doctors don’t have time to trade out their proven workflows to take a risk on a solution that may or may not be successful, and will almost certainly take time to learn and implement into their practice,” notes HIT Consultant,  which also notes the way around this isn’t continuing to do things the same way they’ve been done all along but perhaps pushing for changes to the payment structure so that providers don’t feel pressured to pack their daily schedules with patient appointments.[1]  In the meantime, it may be worth thinking about starting with small changes that have the potential to save providers time—if not by scheduling fewer appointments, then by simplifying “time-sucking” administrative tasks such as medical billing. Exela’s Medical Billing solutions are designed to save time while eliminating errors, reducing recovery times, and improving recovery rates.