Healthcare has long been a profession centered around face-to-face interactions of providers caring for patients. Meanwhile, there has been a dramatic shift in consumer behavior toward digital technologies. While the face-to-face aspect of healthcare is not going away, providers and clinics need to embrace technology and find ways to streamline operations and care through digital tools.
The industry as a whole has been slow to adapt, which could leave healthcare providers and clinics vulnerable to disruption from technologies that emerge in the future. If you think that could never happen, consider the story of the Blockbuster CEO who had a chance to purchase Netflix for $50 million in 2000 and thought it laughable that a DVD-by-mail company could ever overtake the powerful movie rental franchise. The same story is true in dozens of industries, from bookstores and taxis to hotels and language interpreters, who have lost market share—and in some cases gone under completely—as a new service emerged in an on-demand economy that was better or more convenient for consumers.
Overwhelmed by Choices
For large healthcare systems and solo practitioners alike, one of the biggest challenges in keeping up with technology is feeling overwhelmed by so many choices. There are a myriad of options already available and hundreds more introduced every year with the promise of transforming your practice. Deciding which ones to take a chance on, and which ones won’t be worth the cost or the time, is a challenge. That’s especially true for healthcare providers who still need to spend the majority of their time seeing patients and don’t have endless hours to devote to emerging technology research and software demos.
Legal and Regulatory Compliance
Another significant hurdle in the medical field is the vast array of legal and regulatory hurdles that you need to overcome to adopt new technology. The exact laws and regulations vary by state and even local area, but even the biggest federal law, HIPAA — designed to protect patient privacy and increase the portability of healthcare records—was written back in 1996 when the internet was relatively new to consumers and the first smartphones were still more than a decade away. Government regulators and Congress are struggling to keep pace with innovation, and sometimes laws can get in the way of healthcare organizations forging ahead with new technology.
Healthcare & Technology
While there are a lot of technologies out there, most can be separated into three categories:
- Big Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which are emerging as tools to predict health outcomes, provide better care to patients, and determine where valuable healthcare resources should be deployed to reduce costs and improve outcomes.
- Patient-Provider Connections through things like patient portals, telemedicine, and e-prescribing technologies.
- Operational Tools to improve workflows and streamline clinic operations, such as online scheduling, patient appointment reminders, and digital patient intake forms.