Investment in innovation: Crafting a compelling case for digital transformation in healthcare

In 2024, the UK healthcare landscape, particularly the NHS, is focused on reinstating services disrupted by COVID-19 to full efficiency, addressing long waits and cancer backlogs, and transforming care with a digital and patient-centric approach.

At a time of ever-tightening budgets, these challenges highlight the need for leaders to explore alternative forms of investment to drive innovation and digital transformation. 

This post looks at the most promising and underutilised options for healthcare providers to raise funds. Adopting new ways of generating investment is vital for improving both operational efficiency and patient outcomes.

 

Understanding the funding landscape

Healthcare funding in the UK is made up of three main strands: NHS funding, private investment and government grants. 

There are also a number of organisations and initiatives that promote innovation. These include the NHS Innovation Accelerator, Health Data Research UK (HDR UK), Innovate UK, the NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i), and more. 

You may be wondering how your healthcare organisation can align its digital transformation strategies with current funding options.

Staying current with the myriad innovation funds available is an important factor. But ensuring your digital products align with specific program goals in terms of local patient outcomes and efficiency is also key. 

Engaging with innovation networks, forming collaborations with research leaders and effectively using your data to understand patient needs are all useful steps.

 

Crafting a winning investment strategy

A successful investment strategy for healthcare providers invariably aligns with investor goals and demonstrates a strong likelihood of both quantitative and qualitative outcomes. 

  • Target both public and private investors: Engage a range of funding sources. You will need to tailor your strategy to account for different priorities. Government bodies tend to focus on public health outcomes while private investors are more geared towards profit. 
  • Demonstrate the potential for clear results: ROI (Return on Investment) is a core metric that should always be given attention. ROX (Return on Experience), a concept Waymark pioneered in conjunction with empathy-driven research, is also valuable.
  • Integrate success stories and case studies: Use real-world examples where technology or service innovations have led to significant improvements in patient outcomes, cost savings, or operational efficiencies. Strike a balance between data-backed analysis and the human element.

 

Recognise the opportunities of digital transformation in healthcare

Healthcare organisations that embrace digital transformation are likely to realise an array of benefits. 

Importantly, these encompass both internal outcomes like operational efficiency and external ones like patient care and well-being. 

  • Enhanced patient care: Advanced digital tools improve diagnostic accuracy, personalise treatment plans, and facilitate communication between patients and healthcare providers.
  • Operational efficiency: Automation of administrative tasks, integration of electronic health records, and the generation of practical insights from data analysis reduces costs and frees up healthcare professionals to focus on patient care.
  • Competitive advantages: Innovative technologies are powerful differentiators. They also help attract and retain top talent and give providers the tools to adapt faster to regulatory changes and new health issues.

 

 

Overcoming challenges and embracing opportunities

Despite the many opportunities digital transformation presents, there are also significant challenges. It is essential to account for these and pre-empt solutions. 

Here are the main challenges to digital transformation:

  • Securing and allocating funding: There are limited financial resources to support digital initiatives, and competition is fierce. Diverting resources from already stretched services can be challenging to justify, 
  • Migrating functional but outdated legacy systems: It can be difficult to balance the need for modernisation with the risk of disrupting existing services. Many obsolete systems are not suited to migration. 
  • Employee training: It is hard to ensure staff at all levels acquire the necessary digital skills while maintaining their regular duties.
  • Poor patient adoption and limited tech literacy: There is often resistance from patients unaccustomed to or uncomfortable with digital health tools.

Solutions to these problems include the following:

  • Running a diverse investment strategy: Your strategy should include government grants, innovation funding, private equity, and underused financial instruments (like social impact bonds) to finance digital projects.
  • A tandem approach to transitioning tech infrastructure: Implementing parallel systems to allow gradual migration without service interruption has proven effective. 
  • In-house training: Training programmes that address specific digital skills gaps within your organisation are usually most cost-effective. 
  • Partnership building and education: Engagement with community organisations and tech partners can enhance tech literacy among patients through educational campaigns.

 

Conclusion

Digital transformation has the potential to improve all areas of modern healthcare, from internal operations to full-spectrum patient experience. 

But it is crucial that challenges are understood and the most promising opportunities are prioritised. Similarly, the tendency for healthcare providers to lag, allowing other providers and trusts to test the water, must be guarded against. 

Leaders who embrace the many possibilities to secure investment and drive digital evolution can look forward to more efficient, effective, and patient-centred healthcare offerings.

 

Launch your digital transformation strategy with Waymark

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