The healthcare industry garnered a very sad reputation for being slow at technology adoption, with a recent study revealing that 89 percent still use fax machines and 39 percent still depend on pagers or landlines to communicate.
There are multiple reasons for technology’s failure to fully penetrate the health economy beyond the Fitbits many of us wear on our arms, and the rare robotic assistants we see in modern day surgeries. There is very poor integration of technology with the medical field and the key reasons being the extremely high costs associated with it, the proliferation of reluctant healthcare professionals who do not have the time to adapt to new systems, the overwhelmingly impersonal nature of technology in an era where all we want is personalisation, and the risk averse nature of the healthcare industry - to reduce fatality rate, professionals are much keener on preserving tried and tested methods rather than testing something new.
Many physicians believe that becoming dependent on technology for all patient data could leave huge room for error. But in fact, research proves otherwise. Medical errors caused by human error are on the rise, with the rate of drug errors by doctors having jumped by 50 percent in recent years - with these statistics, perhaps it is important to implement new tech-savvy measures to curb the rate of error.
36 percent of people believe tech is “extremely important” when it comes to managing health, and more than 50 percent of people use websites and mobile devices to manage their health, according to a study by Accenture, and the trend has been gaining popularity exponentially over the last few years. With these statistics and data in mind, it begs the question of why it is taking so long for the healthcare industry to take that leap of faith and commit to technology, when even less popular industries have done so already.
If optimising patient retention and engagement are what health providers want, why not give the people what they want and develop efficient, healthcare-focused technologies that make the otherwise cumbersome and labour-intensive process of managing one’s healthcare easy once and for all?
Mobile technology in particular is a game-changer that, if adopted on a large scale, would completely upend the way medical and healthcare professionals operate. Thankfully, healthcare providers are now recognising this, and thus the use of mobile tech in healthcare is gaining traction. Enabling this growth is the development of app platform providers such as Universe mHealth - a company which allows health organizations to create a custom-branded app, with capabilities including secure messaging, prescription refills, appointment requests, sharing of lab results, bill paying, and much more.
“We’ve been seeing a marked increase in the number of organizations that are committed to creating an app for their patients,” explains the company’s founder, John Deutsch, “there's an excellent opportunity to consolidate these apps into a single app, greatly improving the patient experience.”
This will help consolidate medical records and assist in getting much personalized and efficient healthcare. The potential of having your medical records stored on a secure database which is accessible by medical professionals and on your mobile phone is something that is being explored with the use of blockchain. Another reason why there has been a slow uptake on the adoption of technology on healthcare also stems from patient confidentiality. Consumers are a lot more aware of privacy issues and data protection rights; people are strangely finicky about keeping their medical records private.
Innovation in medical technology is becoming increasingly crucial in order for the industry to continue providing the best level of care to an increasingly modernised society. But to support this continued technological transformation, there must first come a social transformation where people come to place the same level of trust in technology that they do in physicians and medical professionals. This must be supported by responsible, and inclusive policy and governance around the application of technology in healthcare, too.
Between the development of new information technologies, newfangled medical devices, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and now, the increasing application of virtual reality and AI in various industries, those organisations or facilities that don’t keep up are at risk of falling dangerously behind. Today, more than 240 U.S. hospitals are using virtual reality in health-related procedures, and AI is fostering preventative medicine and enabling the discovery of new drugs. Using AI and machine learning is making it easier than ever for health organisations to collect, store, and access data, thus creating insights for them to make better clinical decisions.