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US Healthcare Enterprises Speed Up Adoption of Digital Services as COVID-19 Requires Telemedicine, Automation

  • ISG Provider Lens report shows healthcare providers and payers turning to digital transformation and cloud to reduce costs, improve operations and streamline data sharing

The US healthcare industry has rapidly adopted digital services to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerating an existing trend among providers and payers seeking to enhance operations, cut costs and better engage with stakeholders, according to a new report published today by Information Services Group (ISG), a leading global technology research and advisory firm.

“The pandemic is disrupting policies and practices in the U.S., but companies are also carrying out digital transformation to meet ongoing industry challenges.”

The 2020 ISG Provider Lens™ Healthcare Digital Services report for the U.S. finds healthcare enterprises are addressing challenges from COVID-19 by using more telemedicine systems and connected healthcare monitoring devices and further automating processes. Companies increasingly are adopting robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks such as claims processing, medical diagnosis and patient care management.

“Over the next few years, healthcare industry services will change radically,” said Bob Krohn, partner, ISG Healthcare, Americas. “The pandemic is disrupting policies and practices in the U.S., but companies are also carrying out digital transformation to meet ongoing industry challenges.”

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COVID-19 is expected to shape the U.S. healthcare ecosystem in 2021 as government and industry respond to the pandemic and take a fresh look at healthcare management, the report says. Government agencies are building new frameworks for disease response and data sharing, and public-private alliances and collaborations are emerging.

One reason U.S. healthcare enterprises are embracing new technologies is that many of them have IT operations contracts that are about to expire, ISG says. According to ISG Research, nearly 400 such contracts in North America are expected to expire between 2021 and 2023. Contracts for application development and maintenance (ADM) and infrastructure services, as well as pure ADM services engagements, will make up about 74 percent of these by contract value.

Companies also have a growing number of choices for technology solutions, the report notes. Major cloud providers Amazon, Google and Microsoft all have products aimed at healthcare companies, including Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, introduced in October 2020. In customer relationship management (CRM), Salesforce Health Cloud is supported by most service providers. Meanwhile, healthcare technology specialists such as Allscripts, Cerner and Optum are expanding their own service offerings.

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New U.S. regulations and related technology tools are emerging to solve the ongoing problem of interoperability, which has held back information-sharing, especially between healthcare payers and providers, ISG says. Several new and proposed federal rules call for healthcare enterprises to use common standards for data, including the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR) specification, which is supported by all service providers covered in the report. Last year, Google announced general availability of its Cloud Healthcare API, which helps health systems and providers connect data across various sources. Amazon Web Services launched HealthLake for storage and analysis of data, which it automatically structures into the FHIR standard.

The 2020 ISG Provider Lens™ Healthcare Digital Services report for the U.S. evaluates the capabilities of 31 providers across three quadrants: Payer Digital Transformation Services, Provider Digital Transformation Services and Payer Business Process as a Service.

The report names Accenture, Cognizant, NTT DATA, and Wipro as Leaders in all three quadrants and HCL, IBM, Optum and UST as Leaders in two quadrants each. It names Atos, Cerner, Genpact, Infosys and TCS as Leaders in one quadrant each.

In addition, Conduent, EXL, Genpact, Persistent Systems and UST are named as Rising Stars—companies with a “promising portfolio” and “high future potential” by ISG’s definition—in one quadrant each.

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