5 Ways in Which the Healthcare Sector’s Reliance on Legacy Systems Is Hurting Them


The healthcare industry has experienced a host of unprecedented yet welcome changes in the past three years. However, many of these innovative changes came with new challenges, the biggest being the industry’s widespread reliance on legacy systems. Here’s how legacy systems are actively impeding a healthcare organization’s ability to function efficiently:

1. Prevents organizations from delivering on key experience pillars like personalization and self-service offerings resulting in poor patient engagement
2. Leave healthcare organizations in a stagnant state
3. Creates an entrenched fear of disruption among leadership teams
4. Creates security hazards and hinders collaboration among organizational teams, making it easier for hackers to breach the system and wreak havoc

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From government regulatory bodies to multi-specialty hospitals and even family clinics, we’ve seen a slew of digital initiatives ranging from telemedicine to remote care and diagnostics moving crucial operational elements onto digital platforms. Healthcare leaders are getting inspired by how sectors like retail are focusing on fulfilling customer experience across their digital landscape and thinking about how to follow suit. But the sector is plagued by one major obstacle- their reliance on legacy systems. 

 Let us explore 5 ways in which legacy systems can hurt key players in the healthcare sector: 

 Poor patient engagement 

Legacy systems are unable to deliver on key experience pillars like personalization and self-service offerings. Today, digital-savvy patients need access to a range of tailored medical services on their smartphones. This is often enabled by data collected from their wearable health trackers and remote diagnostic devices and based on a deep understanding of the specific situation of each user. Such an interconnected system of healthcare can function only with the support of technologies like IoT, AI, and big data analytics.  

 Obstructing product innovation 

In the quest for sustainable growth, healthcare organizations need to productize their technology ecosystem and continuously upgrade their digital offerings via a strategic product roadmap. By transitioning the entire end-to-end patient lifecycle into a single platform from which multiple departments can simultaneously access a single source of truth for a patient’s data, there will be a huge jump in efficiency for the organization. Different business systems in use at each of these departments should be able to seamlessly connect to the centralized patient management system. However, when legacy systems dominate the digital network, such plans take a hit. Legacy systems rarely provide an extensible and flexible technology architecture both of which, are essential to any modern digital development initiative.  

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 Entrenched fear of disruption in leadership 

Transforming to a digital-friendly ecosystem requires both a big budget and support from the leadership team. But such a transformation exercise necessarily involves migrating from existing legacy systems. The greater the dependence on these systems today, the bigger the fear of disruption in operations tomorrow. This thought process leaves leadership teams puzzled and unsure of the next steps to be take. The comfort of the familiar, even as problems keep surfacing, atrophies decision-making and makes it progressively harder to change. Over-caution breeds questions like whether critical patient engagement channels will be able to handle the change, or will automation create further complications for caregivers and doctors due to technical issues.  This fear leads to legacy systems becoming an albatross around the neck for healthcare providers looking to find success in their digital transformation initiatives 

 Security hazards 

Healthcare institutions tied to legacy systems often give very less importance to upgrading their infrastructure like operating systems, security firewalls, etc. A consequence of this is that there will be hundreds or thousands of computers running outdated legacy software internally connected to the technology network of the organization. This is the perfect opportunity for hackers and cybercriminals to launch targeted attacks and create disruptions. The WannaCry ransomware threat is a sobering example in this scenario. It mostly infected PCs that ran older and outdated versions of the Windows operating system utilizing vulnerabilities in the OS to hack into the larger network of healthcare IT departments. Legacy systems are harder to maintain and upgrade leaving them vulnerable to cyber-attacks. 

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 Hinders collaboration 

Legacy systems can create scenarios where people relying on them refuse to transition from the status quo. This creates friction when different departments with dependent technology infrastructure want to pursue their own individual digital transformation objectives. For example, the patient billing team may want to use a new SaaS solution that requires integration from the insurance team’s information system. However, if the insurance team leverages a legacy tool that doesn’t support API integration with the new billing solution, then the two teams will not be able to collaborate and ultimately this adversely affects the patient experience.  

The future of health will depend deeply on innovative digital solutions for streamlining practices across every facet of care delivery. However, to transition into a modern digital ecosystem, it is imperative that legacy bottlenecks have to be eliminated first. The exercise is not easy and requires a strategic approach with measured results. Planning such a transition alone can be a huge challenge for healthcare organizations. This is where partnering with a pioneering player in the digital space can guarantee success in your modernization endeavors. 

 About Adtech: 

Adtech is a tech consultancy that helps small to large enterprises attain operational excellence. We facilitate the creation of scalable solutions that deliver exceptional patient experiences, improve hospital efficiency and streamlines the value creation process across the board. If you’re hitting roadblocks in your healthcare modernization initiatives, then consider reaching out to us at info@adtechcorp.in 

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