As global healthcare teams continue to adjust to a digital-first future for delivering patient care, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has unveiled survey data that reveals how the healthcare industry is going through a rapid transformation, with a profound impact on the technologies and solutions required to meet the demands of modern, scalable healthcare delivery.

HPE’s multi-country “Future of Healthcare” Report surveyed healthcare clinicians and IT decision makers in the United States and United Kingdom, exploring respondents’ perceptions on how the pandemic has impacted technology in their healthcare organization, opportunities and challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, artificial intelligence (AI), edge technologies, hybrid cloud, machine learning (ML), and telehealth.

“The healthcare industry has undergone tremendous change over the last 18 months, enabling providers to connect with their patients securely and effectively wherever they are, with virtual care at the forefront,” said Steve Cotham, Healthcare Chief Technologist at HPE. “In this new paradigm of modern healthcare, however, organizations face compounding pressures to quickly adapt while still making progress toward long-term business, data management, and patient care objectives. As a result, they are seeking out agile, scalable, secure, and cost-effective platforms that serve their entire edge-to-cloud environment, while still meeting the requirements of an increasing regulatory healthcare landscape.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for digital transformation. According to statistics from Gartner, the number of telehealth visits increased by 154% in the last week of March 2020 compared to the same timeline in 2019. The sudden shift to accelerate digital transformation saw healthcare providers change focus to innovation and modernization, and prioritizing the cloud experience in their investments. Data from HPE’s Future of Healthcare Survey shows 84% of IT decision makers agree the pandemic has accelerated their organization’s digital transformation. An additional 89% agree the pandemic has made investing in new technologies a priority for their organization.

With the rapid growth of edge technologies, edge computing is being used to monitor patients remotely, automate the delivery of care, leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the speed and accuracy of diagnoses, and more. The COVID-19 pandemic sparked a huge increase in telehealth adoption, enabling healthcare organizations to continue to provide patient care outside of traditional healthcare settings. Still, 68% of clinicians agreed they “frequently have issues in delivering telehealth” to patients due to lack of access to the right technology or networks, highlighting the challenges that remain as the digital divide prevents widespread access to wi-fi connectivity and technology around the world.

Demonstrating the increased value of breakthrough edge technologies in the past year, more than three quarters (82%) of IT decision makers believe connected medical devices are one of the technologies that will have the biggest impact on their organization in the next five years. A further 55% say remote working has become more important to their organization’s IT department in the last 12 months. This demonstrates the importance of a fast, efficient edge network where the delivery of quality patient care remains the top priority.

Other key findings of this year’s report include:

  • 79% of IT decision makers say delivering better clinical outcomes (genomics, patterns, medical imaging analysis, etc., via massive amounts of data being collected) is one of the most important outcomes in deploying AI or ML in their organization
  • 53% of said IT skills are a key enabler of innovation in their organization
  • 61% of cite better data security as a key benefit of investing in edge technologies
  • Just 5% of respondents said the pandemic has had no impact on their organization’s digital transformation long-term