October 30, 2018
“One of the key challenges that digital health faces today is resistance in adoption”.
Patients are unfamiliar and may not have full confidence in its capabilities. However, it’s not only the patients. Several physicians all over the world are still unsure about healthcare turning digital. To a good extent, the reason, in this case, is no different from why patients are wary – unfamiliarity. It’s the fear of the known that’s holding them back, even if they’re convinced of its potential.
Healthcare providers have a bigger role to play here. They need to understand that the concerns raised by physicians. They must ensure proper digital healthcare consulting for physicians to address these concerns with supporting facts and success stories.
Here are a few major concerns and how the providers can tackle them.
Digital devices, mobile apps, and wearables continue to churn out volumes of health data. Given their busy schedule, physicians may not have the time to refer it. Moreover, compliances and legal implications further complicate interpreting healthcare data.
Solution: A lot of responsibilities rest with the physicians. Their focus is to do best what they have been trained to do. It’s been reported that many physicians are reaching a burnout stage. Evidently, they don’t have time to track and interpret the new digital influx of data.
A practical way to tackle this problem would be creating a medical digitalist role. The role will mainly involve actively tracking and managing healthcare data from all apps and devices.
Healthcare providers can work along with physicians to train the digitalist to monitor data and respond to the findings. Providers must assure the physicians that data management isn’t their liability. It will be the digitalist’s responsibility to detect an issue at an early stage based on data and help doctors react to it before it takes the form of crisis.
Cyber threats aren’t new and healthcare is one of the top targets for hackers. All confidential data generated from and stored in various devices are prone to attacks. It’s not been long since WannaCry ransomware stalled many healthcare operations in the UK for several days.
Solution: While the possibility of attacks cannot be eliminated, security infrastructure can always be made stronger. There are several industries dealing in a massive amount of confidential data, like banking and financial services, and they have all the right provisions in place. Healthcare can follow the suit too, especially considering the numerous benefits associated with healthcare data.
Healthcare providers have a supporting argument that online data is still far safer than traditional paper-based records. They should show physicians how the model can ensure complete security of patient information.
One of the challenges in EHR acceptance is that physicians are concerned about its cost. Designing and implementing it can involve significant costs, shooting operational expenses of a hospital further up.
Solution: EHR does incur a cost. But any new software requires certain costs to develop and launch. Healthcare providers must carefully assess the ROI to look beyond the expenses.
EHR is lucrative for physicians. It can quickly update them on patient profile, thus shortening patient visit and allowing them to see more patients in a day. This way, they can be more productive and can be saving more lives every day.
Secondly, EHRs can completely eliminate the need for duplicate or repeated tests. Paper-based reports are often harder to maintain, in particular, when the patient has to revisit after a long time. Multiple repeated tests amount to a significant sum of unnecessary costs for both patient and hospital. These costs can be avoided with electronically maintained records.
Finally, not only can EHR be used for accurate diagnostics and treatments, but it can also save a lot of bandwidth for the staff and practitioners which they can leverage to attend to patients.
Many physicians believe that due to technology fear, their senior patients will prefer visiting them in person for regular check-ups and health monitoring. They will not be comfortable with digital health means like wearables, sensors, and telemedicine.
Solution: Let’s demystify this first. There is no such observation that only a certain age group is rather enthusiastic about embracing digital health. While it’s true that millennials are more likely to adopt healthcare technology, a few studies have shown that older patients are also welcoming the digitization of healthcare. They believe it gives them a better understanding of their conditions and medications.
Digital health can be quite effective in managing the health of the elderly. It can eliminate multiple hospital visits and long waiting hours. Telemedicine can help senior patients avail almost all medical assistance from the comfort of their home. This saves them from the exhaustion of travel and wait.
IoT and wearables are already proving their worth by improving drug adherence among senior patients. It can help family members and staff monitor the health of the patient remotely, detect any anomaly and raise alerts in case of an emergency.
Many physicians fear that increasing digital health solutions are leading to a disengagement between patients and doctors. Additionally, AI is gradually turning healthcare impersonal.
Solution: Providers should present the bigger picture before the physicians. They should explain that on the contrary, digital health is helping them engage with their patients in a better manner.
It’s taking up and automating several routines, mundane tasks which the physicians would have to manually. Thus, it’s freeing them up to concentrate on core and complex tasks rather than clinical activities like data entry. Therefore, they can allocate more time attending to their patients and interacting with them.
Providers need to encourage them to adopt digital health as technology is no threat to them. It’s only there to help them spend quality time with their patients and determine the best course of treatment for them.
It’s true that digital health is contributing to delivering a better patient care. However, physicians aren’t satisfied with ROI limited to this for the investments made in digital health. Their reservations are also based on their belief in its inability to contribute to the overall healthcare model.
Solution: It’s one of the biggest challenges that healthcare providers have to overcome before digital health can be fully accepted in the healthcare community. But at the same time, we need to understand that the application of digital health is in its beginning phases right now and it has already started to cover several aspects of the treatment cycle. Healthcare IT experts believe in its potential to upgrade the sector.
It’s clear that digital health is impacting more areas than mere care delivery. It’s facilitating streamlined operations and a better resource allocation to realize highest efficiencies. As it evolves over time and reaches the next stages, it’s only going to deliver a higher value.
The onus now lies with the healthcare providers to address the fears of physicians with a practical approach and collaborate with them to establish a more effective healthcare architecture.
If you need more information on this, feel free to reach out to us. We’re a leading digital health consulting company with over 10 years of experience in providing customized IT solutions to reputed health organizations.