Digital transformation in healthcare: past, present, and future

WalkMe Team
By WalkMe Team
Updated May 2, 2023

Of all industries, healthcare is one that stands to gain the most from digital transformation. In this article, we’ll cover what you need to know about digital transformation as it relates to the healthcare industry. Keep reading to learn potential benefits for patients, providers, and payers, as well as what to expect for the future of healthcare.

What does digital mean in healthcare?

Digital transformation is a term that is often used in healthcare. But, before we dive into what transformation itself means for the industry, we must answer the question: What does digital mean in healthcare? In short, digital healthcare refers to the use of technology to improve patient care. This can include everything from using electronic medical records to track patient data, to using telemedicine to connect patients with doctors.

By leveraging digital tools, healthcare providers can enhance the quality of care that they provide and improve patient outcomes. Additionally, digital healthcare can help to reduce costs by increasing efficiencies and improving communication between providers and patients. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, digital transformation will play an increasingly important role in shaping the future of care.

Why is digital technology important in healthcare?

Healthcare organizations are under increasing pressure to improve patient outcomes while controlling costs. In response, many healthcare organizations are turning to digital technology to support their transformation efforts. Digital technology can help healthcare organizations to achieve their goals in several ways:

1) Boosting patient engagement

Digital technology can help to improve patient engagement by providing patients with easy access to their health information and eliminating the need for paper records (AKA digitization).

2) Better decision-making

By helping to improve clinical decision making by providing clinicians with real-time access to data and knowledge.

3) Automation & coordination

It can help to reduce costs by automating administrative tasks with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and improving coordination across care team members.

Ultimately, digital technology is emerging as a key tool that healthcare organizations can use to improve the quality and efficiency of care.

How does digital technology affect healthcare?

Healthcare is in the midst of a digital transformation. This shift is being driven by a number of factors, including the increasing availability of digital health data, the declining cost of digital health technologies, and the growing demand for more convenient and personalized healthcare services. As a result, digital health technologies are becoming more widespread and are having a profound impact on the way healthcare is delivered.

For example, digital technologies are being used to develop more personalized and targeted treatments, to improve the efficiency of clinical trials, and to provide patients with more convenient access to care. In addition, digital health technologies are also playing an important role in the development of new business models for healthcare delivery. As healthcare continues to evolve, digital health technologies will play an increasingly important role in shaping the future of healthcare.

What does transformation mean in healthcare?

Digital transformation is the process of using technology to create new or improved business processes, products, or services. When done successfully, digital transformation can help organizations to become more efficient and agile, better able to meet the needs of their customers. The healthcare industry is particularly well-suited to digital transformation, as it often relies on complex processes and data.

By digitizing these processes and making information more accessible, healthcare organizations can improve patient care and outcomes while also reducing costs. In addition, digital transformation can help to create new opportunities for care delivery, such as telemedicine. 

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, digital transformation will become increasingly important in order to remain competitive.

Challenges to digital transformation in healthcare

Healthcare organizations are under pressure to digitalize in order to improve patient outcomes, optimize workflows and reduce costs. However, digital transformation can be a complex and daunting process, especially for large healthcare organizations dependent on legacy applications.

Key challenges include:

Data privacy & security

In recent years, the healthcare industry has undergone a digital transformation. This digital transformation has brought many benefits, including the ability to collect and store vast amounts of data. However, it has also created new challenges in terms of data privacy and security. Healthcare data is some of the most sensitive information out there, and it is essential that this data is protected.

One of the biggest challenges in protecting healthcare data is that it is often stored on a variety of different devices and systems. This makes it difficult to create a unified security strategy. In addition, healthcare data often needs to be shared between different parties, which creates another potential point of failure. These challenges are compounded by the fact that the healthcare industry is constantly changing and evolving.

New technologies and trends are always emerging, and this can make it difficult to keep up with the latest best practices. As a result, protecting healthcare data is a complex and ever-changing challenge.


In order to realize the benefits of digital transformation, healthcare organizations need to be able to share data seamlessly across different digital platforms. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Many healthcare systems are still using legacy systems that are not compatible with newer ones. As a result, data is often siloed, making it difficult to get a holistic view of patients’ health. This can in turn lead to poor care decisions, as well as wasted time and resources.

In order to overcome these challenges, healthcare organizations need to invest in interoperability solutions that can help them break down data silos and provide a more unified view of patients’ health. By doing so, they will be better positioned to drive digital transformation and realize the full benefits of new technologies.

Data silos

One of the biggest challenges facing the healthcare industry today is data silos. A data silo is a collection of data that is isolated from other data sources. This can make it difficult to get a complete picture of a patient’s health, as well as to coordinate care between different providers. Digital transformation is helping to address this challenge by creating a more connected and interoperable healthcare system. However, there are still many silos within the healthcare industry, which can make it difficult to fully reap the benefits of digital transformation. In order to truly take advantage of digital health technologies, it is important to overcome the challenges posed by data silos.

Demand for new service delivery methods

The healthcare industry is in the midst of a digital transformation, as patients and providers alike are increasingly using digital tools and services. This shift is driven by a number of factors, including the need for more convenient, accessible, and personalized care. As a result, there is a growing demand for new service delivery methods, such as digital health services, that can provide a better patient experience.

The use of digital health services is on the rise, as they offer a number of advantages over traditional care models. They are often more convenient and accessible, and can be tailored to the individual needs of each patient. In addition, digital health services can help to improve patient outcomes by providing real-time data and feedback. 

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, digital health services will play an increasingly important role in meeting the needs of patients and providers.

Resistance to Organizational Change Management (OCM)

Many healthcare professionals are reluctant to embrace new ways of working, preferring the familiar comfort of the status quo. This resistance can have a number of negative consequences, including delayed implementation of new systems, frustration among staff, and increased costs. 

To overcome this resistance, it is essential to understand the reasons behind it. Only then can steps be taken to address the concerns of those who are resistant to change management programs. With a clear understanding of the benefits of digital transformation, healthcare organizations can finally start to realize its potential.

Difficult and complex processes that span multiple systems

The industry is struggling to keep pace with the rapidly changing landscape of healthcare technology. This is due in part to the fact that healthcare processes are often very complex and span multiple systems. As a result, it can be difficult to digitalize these processes in a way that is both efficient and effective. Additionally, the healthcare industry is subject to stringent regulations that can make it challenging to adopt new technologies.

Despite these challenges, the healthcare industry is making progress when it comes to digital transformation. With the right strategy and approach, digital transformation in healthcare is achievable.

Need for cooperative competition

Digital transformation in the healthcare industry has led to increased competition among healthcare providers, as they strive to offer the best possible care to their patients. However, while competition can be healthy, it can also lead to unsustainable cost increases and negative outcomes for patients. Cooperative competition, on the other hand, is a win-win model that can help healthcare providers improve quality and access while reducing costs.

In cooperative competition, providers work together to identify best practices and share resources. This allows them to focus on providing high-quality care, rather than on competing with each other. As the healthcare industry continues to digitalize, cooperative competition will become increasingly important in ensuring that quality care is accessible and affordable for all.

Low employee engagement and satisfaction

The employee experience is heavily neglected. With the advent of new technologies, healthcare organizations are expecting employees to be more digital savvy and comfortable with using new tools and systems. This can be a challenge for employees who are not used to working in a digital environment. 

In addition, the healthcare industry is under significant pressure to reduce costs and improve patient outcomes. This pressure can lead to high levels of stress for employees, which can impact their engagement and satisfaction levels.

Another challenge that healthcare organizations face is employee retention. However, by addressing these challenges and reducing friction between employees and new technologies, healthcare organizations can improve employee engagement, satisfaction levels, and retention rates.

Lack of employee tech proficiency

Hospitals and clinics are increasingly relying on digital tools to improve patient care and streamline operations. However, this shift has created a new challenge for healthcare organizations: ensuring that their employees have the digital dexterity needed to thrive in this new landscape. 

WalkMe’s State of Digital Adoption Report 2022 found that 55% of enterprises say employees lack the necessary digital dexterity to use applications effectively. This lack of proficiency is costing enterprises a minimum total cost of $21 million in large enterprises. 

To overcome these challenges, healthcare organizations must invest in employee training and development. By providing employees with the skills they need to succeed, they can ensure that digital transformation leads to improved patient care and stronger organizational performance.

Shift in payer models

In the past, most healthcare services were provided by fee-for-service providers, and patients were typically responsible for paying the full cost of their care. However, this model is changing, and we are seeing a shift towards value-based care. 

Under this model, providers are reimbursed based on the quality of care they provide, rather than the number of services they render. This is a major change, and it is having a profound impact on the way that healthcare is delivered. 

As we move towards a value-based system, it is important to ensure that providers have the tools and resources they need to succeed. This will require a digital transformation of the healthcare industry as a whole.

The benefits of digital transformation for patients, providers, and payers

By digitizing medical records and improving communication channels, patients, providers, and payers can all benefit from increased efficiency and better quality of care. Let’s break it down.

Benefits for patients

  • Improved access to care
  • Faster access to personal medical files
  • Higher accuracy of care

For patients, digital transformation can lead to more convenient and coordinated care. When all of a patient’s medical information is stored electronically, it is easier for providers to access and share information. 

Digital transformation can help to avoid duplicate tests and procedures, it can also help to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate care based on their individual needs, and it can mean faster access to their medical records and appointments. They can also benefit from being able to communicate with their providers through secure messaging platforms and avoid errors in their medications and treatments.

Benefits for providers

  • Automating administrative tasks
  • Preventing regulatory mishaps
  • Reducing costs of service

Digital transformation is helping providers create a more efficient, patient-centric healthcare system. By automating manual processes, eliminating paper records, and improving communication among providers, digital transformation can help reduce costs and improve quality of care. In addition, digital transformation can help providers better engage with patients by providing them with online access to their medical records, appointment scheduling, and secure messaging. 

By making it easier for patients to access the care they need, digital transformation can help improve patient satisfaction and outcomes. Plus, digital transformation can help providers stay compliant with regulations and reduce administrative burden.

Benefits for payers

  • Improved fraud detection
  • Increased operational efficiency
  • Expansive service offerings

The transformation undergone in recent years by the health insurance industry has been driven, in large part, by advances in digital technology. For payers, these changes have brought a number of advantages, including increased operational efficiency, more accurate claims processing, and improved fraud detection. In addition, digital transformation has made it possible for payers to offer new and innovative products and services, such as telemedicine and personalized care plans. 

As the industry continues to evolve, payers who embrace digital transformation will be well positioned to succeed in the changing landscape. In addition, it can help payers develop more accurate risk models and improve patient safety.

Overall, digital transformation is benefiting all stakeholders in the healthcare industry.

The role of health professionals in digital transformation

In today’s digital age, health professionals must be prepared to respond to change. With new technologies and treatments being developed all the time, it’s essential that those working in the health industry are able to adapt. The digital transformation is making a huge impact on healthcare, and those who can embrace it will find themselves in a strong position. 

By using new digital tools, health professionals can improve the quality of care they provide and make a real difference to people’s lives. However, it’s not just about using new technology – it’s also about understanding how best to use it. With that in mind, health professionals must always be learning and keeping up to date with the latest developments. Only by doing so can they hope to provide the best possible care for their patients.

Digital transformation is changing healthcare for the better, and those who embrace it will be at the forefront of this change.

The growing health-tech market

According to a report by Grand View Research, the global digital health market is expected to reach $410 billion by 2025. This growth is being driven by a number of factors, including the demand for better patient care, the rise of chronic diseases, and the digital transformation of the healthcare sector.

As more and more health organizations adopt digital technologies, we are seeing a corresponding increase in the number of health tech startups. These businesses are developing innovative solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing the healthcare industry, from streamlining clinical trials to improving patient outcomes. 

With support from government and industry, the health tech market is poised for significant growth in the years ahead.

Transformative technologies & trends in healthcare

Over the past few years, digital transformation has occurred across nearly every industry – and healthcare is no exception. A number of new technologies have emerged that are transforming the way healthcare is delivered, including:

3D printing

3D printing is also starting to make an impact in healthcare. It is being used to create custom prosthetics, implants, and even human tissue. As these and other technologies continue to evolve, it is clear that digital transformation will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of healthcare.

IoT (Wearable devices)

The Internet of Things is making it possible for patients to receive real-time health monitoring and care. For example, wearable devices can be used to track a patient’s heart rate and fitness level, and this information can be transmitted to their doctor in real-time. This is particularly beneficial for those with chronic conditions who need to be closely monitored. In the future, we will see even more connected devices, which will further improve patient care and outcomes.


Robotics is also starting to make an impact in healthcare. For example, robots are being used to assist surgeons in performing complex procedures. In addition, robots are being developed that can provide assistance to patients with disabilities. As these and other technologies continue to evolve, it is clear that digital transformation will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of healthcare.

Cloud computing

Cloud computing is becoming increasingly important in healthcare. It allows organizations to store and share data securely, and access it from anywhere. This is particularly beneficial for those working in remote areas or on the go. In addition, cloud-based applications can be used to streamline clinical trials and research. As cloud computing continues to evolve, it is clear that it will have a major impact on the healthcare industry.

 Electronic health records (EHRs)

One of the most important technological advances has been the development of electronic health records (EHRs). EHRs provide a digital record of a patient’s medical history that can be accessed by providers at any time and from any location. This has greatly improved the efficiency and accuracy of care delivery, as well as reducing the potential for medical errors. 


Telemedicine allows patients to consult with their doctors remotely via video call. This can be particularly beneficial for those who live in rural areas or who have difficulty traveling to see a doctor in person. Telemedicine can also be used to provide specialist care to patients who might not otherwise have access to it.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

Another key area of digital transformation in healthcare is the use of artificial intelligence (AI). AI is being used to develop new drugs and diagnostic tools, and it also has the potential to help improve patient care by reducing errors and automating simple tasks. In the future, AI will become even more important in healthcare, as it will be used to provide personalized care and treatment plans.

Precision medicine

Precision medicine is able to target specific diseases with greater accuracy than ever before. One of the key ways that this is being achieved is through gene editing. By using cutting-edge technology to make precise changes to the DNA code, scientists are now able to create treatments that target specific diseases with unprecedented precision. 

This is a major breakthrough in the quest to develop effective treatments for complex diseases, and it holds great promise for the future of precision medicine.

Examples of healthcare companies that have undergone digital transformation

Healthcare companies are under pressure to digitalize in order to remain competitive. Many have digitized specific processes, but few have undergone digital transformation – a comprehensive change in how they operate, enabled by digital technology. Here are three examples of healthcare companies that have successfully completed digital transformations:

Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is one of the largest healthcare providers in the US. It has over 10 million members and operates over 700 hospitals and clinics. In 2015, it launched My Health Manager, an online platform that allows patients to view their medical records, schedule appointments, and message their doctors. The platform has been a huge success, with over 6 million users as of 2019.

Intermountain Healthcare

Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit healthcare system based in Utah, USA. It has over 30 hospitals and 185 clinics, and serves millions of patients each year. In 2017, it launched MyChart, an online platform that allows patients to view their medical records, schedule appointments, and message their doctors. MyChart has been a huge success, with over 1 million users as of 2019.

Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a leading healthcare provider in the US, with over 1,200 physicians and scientists across all 50 states. In 2016, it launched Mayo Clinic Care Network, an online platform that connects patients with Mayo Clinic doctors for second opinions and remote consultations. The platform has been a huge success, with over 700,000 consults completed as of 2019.


Cigna is a leading global health insurance company with over 95 million customers in 30 countries. In 2016, it launched GoYou, an online health and wellness platform that provides personalized health coaching and content based on individual lifestyle goals. The platform has been a huge success, with over 5 million users as of 2019.

Digital transformation in healthcare is essential for companies to remain competitive. By digitizing their operations, healthcare companies can provide better care for their patients and improve their bottom line.

The future of digital transformation in healthcare

Digital transformation in healthcare is inevitable and it is an ongoing process that is constantly evolving. With the rapid growth of digital technologies, healthcare organizations are increasingly looking to adopt digital solutions to improve patient care, increase efficiency, reduce costs — and overall, to remain competitive.

The future of digital transformation in healthcare will be driven by the need to provide more personalized and patient-centered care. In particular, there will be a focus on developing digital solutions that can help to improve patient engagement and experience. Additionally, there will be a continued emphasis on using digital technologies to improve clinical decision-making and reduce medical errors.

As digital transformation in healthcare continues to evolve, it will play an increasingly important role in improving the quality of care and making healthcare more affordable for everyone. In short, digital transformation of healthcare is an opportunity for providers to improve patient outcomes and create a more efficient and effective delivery of care.

The role of digital adoption in digital transformation

Digital adoption is the process of using digital technologies to improve business performance. It involves changes to how an organization uses technology, as well as changes to processes and culture. 

In order for digital transformation to be successful, companies must first adopt new digital technologies. This can be a challenge, but there are a number of factors that can help encourage digital adoption, such as leadership support, user buy-in, and comprehensive training. 

By taking the time to adopt new digital technologies, companies can set themselves up for success in the digital age.

The leading digital adoption solution for healthcare

In recent years, healthcare organizations have increasingly turned to digital adoption platforms (DAPs) to help them with their digital transformation journeys. DAPs provide a centralized platform for managing digital technologies and workflows, and they offer a number of advantages for healthcare organizations.

For example, DAPs can help streamline employee onboarding and training for new digital technologies, making it easier for staff to get up to speed quickly. In addition, DAPs can provide real-time visibility into how digital technologies are being used across the organization, allowing leaders to identify and address any issues that may arise. 

As healthcare organizations continue to embrace digital tools and technologies, DAPs will become an essential part of their operations.

How to get started on your own digital transformation journey

Digital transformation can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a few key things you can do to get started on your own digital transformation journey. 

First, take inventory of your existing digital capabilities and infrastructure:

  • What digital tools and platforms do you already have in place? 
  • How are they being used currently? 

Second, assess your organization’s needs and goals: 

  • What would you like to achieve with digital transformation? 
  • What areas need improvement?

Once you have a clear idea of where you’re starting from and where you want to go, you can begin to map out a digital transformation strategy that makes sense for your organization. 

Finally, implement your plan and track your progress. As your digital transformation journey progresses, adjust your plan as needed to ensure that you’re achieving your goals.

Learn how you can achieve digital transformation with WalkMe’s Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) for healthcare.

Digital transformation in healthcare: past, present, and future - learn more
WalkMe Team
By WalkMe Team
WalkMe pioneered the Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) for organizations to utilize the full potential of their digital assets. Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and contextual guidance, WalkMe adds a dynamic user interface layer to raise the digital literacy of all users.