Online scheduling, telehealth, and mobile apps have proven impact on patient outcomes
Healthcare technology is a key factor in improving patient outcomes and reducing costs in healthcare. Technology such as online scheduling, telehealth, and mobile apps can make a big difference in the patient experience. Although the industry has been slow in adopting technology to enhance interaction with patients and the community, the barriers to implementing these solutions are not insurmountable—and the benefits are very real.
“There’s so much information that practitioners can share to make healthcare more convenient, time-saving, and accurate, and the technology is available,” says Dan Allison, President of Global Healthcare & Life Sciences at NTT DATA Services. “Healthcare providers personally use the technology, but the medical community perceives real barriers to widespread adoption. We need to find ways to get past those roadblocks.”
These roadblocks generally fall into four categories, Allison says.
- Budget concerns
The cost of adopting new technology often goes beyond purchasing software to include infrastructure updates, new hardware resources, and staff training.
- IT staff requirements
Many provider practices don’t have dedicated IT staff. In some cases, special skills and expertise are necessary to implement and learn new technology.
- Time constraints
Most primary care providers are already stretched for time. Adding a new technology to an already busy medical environment requires time for research & purchase, deployment, workflow adjustments, and training staff, among other things.
- Integration of disparate systems
Connecting disparate systems can be a challenge. “Many providers think they need an IT expert on staff because things have gotten so complicated,” Allison says. “But it’s not that the technology is complicated; it’s the lack of integration that makes it complicated.”
Focus on Success Factors to Overcome Barriers
How can healthcare providers overcome these roadblocks?
Step 1: Focus on success factors such as integrated management of patient services, innovative leadership, and collaboration among providers. New IT initiatives should be carefully aligned with the parties who will use them, from physicians to hospital administrators to insurance companies.
Step 2: Consult the end-user base: Involve knowledgeable clinicians and providers who understand hands-on patient care in selecting the appropriate tools. This will ensure organizations focus on IT initiatives with the best odds of increasing efficiency and improving patient outcomes.
Finally, hospital IT leaders should consider system-wide adoption of technology by all physicians affiliated with their health system. A consistent, standardized set of tools can increase interoperability and reduce the cost and time needed for adoption.
“Healthcare providers are pressed for time and swamped with costs and regulations, so it’s often challenging for them to think about making major changes,” explains Allison. “But if technology is something providers can use to enable their jobs, we can assist them by interpreting their needs, building the tools they need, and showing them how to use them. Then they can find out how useful technology is for making their work efficient.”