Sluggish Tech Adoption in Healthcare

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Every year new technologies are developed and implemented across various healthcare facilities to transform healthcare delivery; and all of these share a common frustration: Slow and unsteady adoption of new technology. So what’s exactly stopping these healthcare facilities and the providers to adopt the innovations and the technologies being implemented? I’ve tried to compile the top barriers observed till date:

  • No Real Solution – as Robert Pearl says, most of the tech entrepreneurs take a backward approach to invention. It always starts with technology and then addressing the issue. The ideal approach should always be “Goal Oriented’’; that is understanding the problem first and then defining the solution. 
  • Cost – this has always been a major battle to win for successful adoption of technology. Implementing a new technology requires infrastructure change which definitely involves investing a huge amount of cost. But, the healthcare providers should understand that this cost is a one-time cost and an investment in the long run; as it definitely reduces the unwanted healthcare costs leading to more revenue and increased patient visits.
  • Reluctance to Change – for any healthcare provider, entering data into an EHR is time consuming than keeping a paper record. The problem isn’t just the time it takes to type but also the structured format of the data entry, as it takes more time since the application does not allow providers to skip steps or leave out clinical details.

For example – a good friend of mine, whose mother was ill few days back had specific symptoms which pointed out towards a medical condition, but somehow getting checked for the condition was missed and it leaded to a complication. When visited a senior doctor for second opinion she was diagnosed with Diabetes. 

Wouldn’t it be nice if the EMR/EHR capturing all the complains can assist the doctors in prompting alerts based on previous researches done, highlighting that the patient might be having so and so medical conditions, and can recommend tests which are necessary to rule out the condition. This not just enhances the doctor’s practice, but also increases the trust factor a patient has on the doctor.

  • Reluctance to share medical information with patients – healthcare providers have always assumed that they own the medical information of a patient as it is being maintained at the doctor’s office. But now with the patients being tech savvy and informed a lot has changed and demand their right to access to their own health records. The transparency of sharing information ensures patient satisfaction and increased participation in maintaining their treatment plans.

Overcoming These Barriers

  • Understanding the problem – this can be solved by including the end users; that is the doctors and the patients. Understanding their need by frequent interviews, questionnaires, focus group discussions etc. is the key to success. Keeping this in mind, we identified that the major issue with the vaccination coverage among infants & children is that most of the parents misplace and forget the due date of the pending vaccination which causes delay. 

On the growth front, parents are not aware on whether the growth of their child is in normal parameters or no. With iCHR mobile application, parents can now get timely vaccination, appointment notifications/SMS and also can view their child growth charts. Not just this with every sprint we are trying to be better with the frequent inputs of eminent physicians in the pediatric space. 

Entrepreneurs should have a long term vision, in terms of not just solving one problem but having a long term vision of how the technology or the desired solution will fit in improving the quality of patient care and evidence based efficiency of doctors. 

Keeping the complex enterprise solutions in mind, new tech solution should fit seamlessly into any existing application enhancing the interoperability and the information flow from one system to the other; which would be a great help in research and data analytics. 

  • Smart & effective pricing strategy – entrepreneurs should define a convenient pricing structure for the healthcare providers, which does not overburden them with the cost factor and also solves the problem effectively. 
  • Proper change management – healthcare providers need to come up with effective change management strategy. A push from top management in the healthcare facility is very necessary for the end users to adopt with the technology. Management should try incentivizing the physicians not just in monetary terms but in any other form convenient to the facility. 

Solutions must be developed in regional or local languages so that their adoption may be increased by the consumers. This could also aid in shedding away the initial reluctance towards technology and exploring the impact of various technologies. iCHR is currently available in English, Hindi and Gujarati language and has the capacity to go in any language. 

Healthcare organizations need to streamline their IT infrastructure, to be able to provide simple, quicker and more efficient healthcare service or delivery. After all, the healthcare solutions promote a new productivity model whereby the ultimate winner is the patient, who will have an instant equitable access to the best clinical expertise. Across history, it often has been the next generation that figures out how best to use new technology. Healthcare may be no different.

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