At the 2012 Rock Health Innovation Summit, businessperson Vinod Khosla stated, “Doctors can be replaced by software – 80 percent of them can. I’d much rather have a good machine learning system diagnose my disease than the median or average doctor.” While the veracity of that statement may be a topic for discussion, it does reflect the growing role of technology healthcare. Here are some ways technology brings both benefits and challenges to the industry.
How Technology Has Benefited Healthcare
Writing for the Huffington Post, one technology expert recently said of healthcare, “We’re seeing a shift from the current model to one that’s more predictive, one hinging on foresight and a combination of the right technology and analytical knowledge — what I would call the Predict-and-Prevent model of health care.” Indeed, medical technology that recognizes patterns and predicts outcomes may help to stop many instances of disease.
Another positive effect of technology in healthcare is the advent of telemedicine. Remote diagnostic tools and advancing methods of communication can improve the quality of patient care and also make care less expensive. Electronic health records, which allow doctors to access a patient’s complete medical history quickly, also lead to better care. Technology has benefited healthcare in many ways, but technology also comes with challenges.
How Technology Continues to Challenge Healthcare
The Learning Curve
Ongoing education is vital for medical professionals and healthcare administrators, but these professionals often juggle busy schedules and may not have the time to learn the latest technology. Not having a full understanding of new medical equipment may lead to errors, which is why it’s vital that medical facilities plan training for new processes or technology.
A 2012 report estimated that out of the trillions of dollars spent on healthcare every year, between 5 and 6 percent goes toward medical devices. At a glance, that may seem like practically nothing. For hospitals and clinics with limited resources, the cost can present a significant challenge. An article from a prominent school’s Technology Review states that many economists agree that healthcare has a troubled financial outlook largely because of the related costs.
Meaningful Use Compliance
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Incentive Programs encourage healthcare facilities to make meaningful use of electronic health records, but this is difficult for many facilities to meet. Professionals who do not act in accord with meaningful use procedures will see a decrease in Medicare reimbursements, which could significantly increase financial concerns for clinics and hospitals that already have monetary woes.
How Hospitals Can Keep Up
The above listed challenges all boil down to the fact that keeping up with technological advances is difficult. One Forbes contributor offers advice to hospitals on how to stay in line with technology. Among other things, he recommends that hospitals be proactive, anticipate future needs, and remember that patient care always takes priority over worries about technology.
Technology is essential to healthcare, but it can also create difficulties. Administrators and leaders in the industry must work to overcome these challenges so all patients can benefit from the latest advances in medical technology.
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