According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Health Research Institute, 2017 is an important year for innovation in health care. The boom in innovation is due to the development of new technologies that could potentially change the way nurses and other providers treat and interact with their patients.
To learn more, check out the infographic below designed by Bradley University’s online Master of Science in Nursing program.
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Current Technology Used by Health Care Organizations
While there may be a natural resistance to adopting new technologies, health care organizations have begun using barcoding, telemedicine, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags and electronic health records (EHRs) more often.
The PwC Health Research Institute released a report in 2017 stating that “nearly 90 percent of hospitals have basic EHRs.” Additionally, barcoding has helped to reduce the adverse events and errors of blood transfusion, which is estimated that these errors from blood transfusion products can occur once every 12,000 units transfused (National Center for Biotechnology Information, NCBI).
Information from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Analytics Database was used in a 2015 study that found that 84.2 percent of laboratory departments, 73.9 percent of pharmacy departments and 50.8 percent of radiology departments were using barcoding in 2012. The study also found that RFID tags were being utilized for 97.1 percent of medications, 89.4 percent of patients and 59.2 percent of nurses during this time period.
Based on estimates by IHS Markit, “the number of patients using telehealth services will rise to 7 million in 2018, up from less than 350,000 in 2013.” Telehealth can be described as “the use of medical devices and communication technology together to monitor diseases and symptoms” (IHS).
A Foley 2014 Telemedicine Survey determined that 90 percent of health care executives have either implemented or were in the process of implementing a telemedicine program (Beckers).
Barriers to Implementing New Technology in Health Care
As changes in technology can affect lives and even a single mistake can cause disastrous consequences, health care organizations tend to be conservative. New technology can also be complex or expensive, and some people might not have easy access to the technology causing a slow rate of adoption. In addition, many physicians and health care professionals view technology as too impersonal and time consuming, with some find that paper records are quicker and easier to maintain than entering data into a digital system.
However, the current transition to a “pay-for-value” payment system could help health care organizations understand the financial value of implementing new technology. Patients want easily accessible care, and technology allows for alternative methods of care, including video visits and secure email (Forbes).
Patient Skepticism of Technology in Health Care
According to a 2016 survey conducted by Black Book, 57 percent of patients who were in direct contact with their hospital, physician or ancillary provider’s technology report skepticism over the potential benefits of EHRs, mobile apps, patient portals and other health information technologies.
Approximately 66 percent of patients were willing to share all their personal medical information to receive enhanced care in 2013. But by 2016, 87 percent of patients were unwilling to divulge their personal health data.
Eight Technologies that Will Transform Patient-centered Care
A 2017 report by PwC Health Research Institute claims, “The health industry lags behind other industries, such as retail and telecommunications, in the deployment of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, drones and virtual reality.”
However, numerous technological advancements are now being extolled for their ability to transform the health care industry, including these eight technologies:
- 3-D Printing
The health care industry is finding numerous uses for 3-D printing, including customized dental work and hearing aids. In addition, 3-D printing could also help influence on-demand inventory, prosthetics and transplants.
- Virtual Reality (VR)
VR works to decrease stress by immersing patients in a relaxing environment (PwC). VR can help reduce the amount of anxiety a patient is feeling before and after surgery, and it is also being used to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Augmented Reality (AR)
While AR is similar to virtual reality, it adds to the existing physical world instead of creating a new environment as a way of modifying the user experience. AR can be used for health wellness apps and surgical guidance.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI technology uses software algorithms for tasks that usually require human intelligence. AI is impacting billing and the digitized supply chain, as well as research and development in the health care industry.
- Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT works by using “a connected network of objects that collect and exchange data” (PwC). This technology could impact care coordination, digitized operations and remote patient monitoring.
Drones are driverless vehicles and aircraft that could affect the digitized supply chain, the delivery of goods, and emergency and disaster response.
Robots may be able to augment, automate or assist human activities, and they could impact digital behavioral health services and remote patient monitoring and care.
Blockchain, or a distributed electronic ledger, could confirm successful transactions and increase record security through fraud prevention and protection of consumer identity and personal health data (PwC).
As the health care industry becomes more automated, there is a growing need for hospital staff to be educated on using new technology while also being open to workflow changes. Taking advantage of the many benefits that can come from adopting new technology will require health care professionals to provide assistance and understand the new technology to help ensure a pleasant experience for patients.