From the September 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
By Patrick Frank
The healthcare industry is in desperate need of greater technological innovation.
From the micro administrative level all the way through to the consumer-facing aspects of the industry, there is massive potential to streamline dated systems, personalize care, and increase transparency. However, there are many challenges that come with integrating technology from an outsider’s perspective into long-established systems of care.
Technology in healthcare covers a wide range of things: artificial intelligence, surgical devices, virtual reality, apps, robotics. But the area that is most primed for innovation and meaningful change are the consumer-facing elements of healthcare: patient and physician interactions, surgical referrals, research and care resources. But healthcare is a complex ecosystem that requires numerous legal and regulatory standards before any major healthcare institution can seriously consider any external technology.
Old habits die hard
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It’s not that proposed solutions aren’t out there, but implementation comes with a multitude of hurdles. Healthcare is a technologically outdated industry, and people have gotten used to that. No matter how inefficient the process, people have accepted that it’s the norm, and largely feel powerless to change anything. In any other business transaction, the consumer is aware of their leverage and influence. They can explore their options, ask questions, and push back in negotiations — but not in healthcare. Often we feel as though we must take whatever we are given because when it comes to our health, we will do whatever it takes.
The biggest hurdles in healthcare lie in changing habitual behavior and adapting to entirely new ways of doing things. Medical professionals are generally resistant to anything that costs money and may change their established systems and procedures. This is why it’s crucial to have a strong grasp on how technology can help different players save time, operate more efficiently, and ultimately gain more clients.
The biggest hurdle when integrating technology into healthcare is trust. It is significantly easier to gain trust as a social or service platform for luxuries or non-essentials. But the issue with healthcare is that decisions made around health are typically the most important ones that anyone could make. This means consumers must trust whatever source they are using to help make those decisions. It is a common misconception that medical professionals always have the patient’s best interest at heart, but there are numerous cases where the industry’s best interests differ from those of a patient. To integrate technology into an industry that is hindered by mistrust of many people, the consumer must believe that it is there to genuinely help them and make their lives better.