It won’t be too long before healthcare industry will be driven by technology innovations and mHealth will occupy the center stage of transformation in the way healthcare services are delivered.
Wearable devices, sensors, robotics, IoT, advanced diagnostic capacities and telemedicine are going to be a part of day to day patient care. Big data, on the other hand, will provide the required analytics to make wonders happen.
Did you know that 60 percent of the consumers are already willing to use videos to consult their physicians? That’s huge!
Not only the consumers,
According to a survey by the American Medical Association, physicians believe that adopting digital health tools will improve their ability to care for their patients.
But, are these innovations easy to adopt? Why are the industry professionals divided in their opinion? What are the threats or challenges in adopting these technology innovations?
Let’s have a look.
In our previous blog post, we discussed some of the recent technology innovations and devices which help monitor certain conditions and diseases along with storing the data.
It is simply impressive, the way it can contribute to the industry!
However, a rise in the adoption of these devices has resulted in an increased burden on the existing infrastructure.
No doubt, one of the foremost challenges faced by the industry is cyber security.
Hackers are increasingly taking advantage of the lax security systems in these devices. The challenge is to protect them on two fronts. First, we need to focus on protecting the patients so the hackers cannot manipulate sensitive treatment-related information and secondly, an increase in interoperability between devices and hospitals gives the hacker a way to enter larger hospital networks. Both of them are scary!
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, mandates medical providers to safeguard patients’ private medical information. Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health act, or HITECH, added to the already existing HIPAA and increased penalty and notification requirements for any breach; the problem still exists.
According to a report by CNBC, Johnson & Johnson notified 114,000 diabetic patients that a hacker could exploit one of its insulin pumps. The J&J Animas OneTouch Ping could be attacked, disabling the device or altering the dosage.
There have been cases of such attacks with a few held for ransom. We cannot ignore the fact that more than 112 million patient records were compromised in 2015 and Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital paid a $17,000 ransom to a hacker that obtained access to the hospital's system, encrypted data, and demanded money.
The question arises, how to secure these devices? They not only store data but they are interconnected. How to ensure the data is safe?
With every attack or compromise in security, a patient's trust is shaken. According to a PwC:
As connected and implantable devices continue to grow and adopted by people, the threat of hacking becomes a huge challenge for companies and CIOs.
Did you know that more than 2.5 million people are already relying on them?
While we saw how electronic health records (or EHRs) are gaining importance, it is of little help unless they are interoperable. Meaning, the information has to flow between disparate health records.
It helps medical professional across the boundaries in exchanging relevant patient data in an emergency situation. Not having an interoperable platform makes treatment difficult and complicated along with thwarting the basic objectives of healthcare.
We should focus on developing technologies that are easily incorporated into the existing infrastructure (for example, EHRs) without it having its own interface, login etc. It should be a plug and play system which makes integration much easier.
It does not end at interoperability though. According to Medical News Today, Medical professionals also find managing the data and incorporating it into their practice a significant challenge.
The disconnect between tech professionals and physicians cannot be ignored as well. According to Research2Guidance, 85 percent of companies consulted with a healthcare professional which is 11 percent lesser than the previous year. It is shocking to know that 11 percent of the companies did not consult any physician at all.
These disconnects will hamper the way technology innovations could contribute in improving healthcare services and is becoming a huge challenge.
We discussed the revolutionizing effects of big data on the healthcare industry and the potential of wearables in treating patients.
While there are a zillion advantages of these devices, we cannot turn our backs to challenges it creates in adopting them.
An article in Nature addresses the prominent issues with wearables and the challenges of data generated by these tracking devices.
There is no doubt, technology innovation in healthcare raises ethical concerns ranging from privacy to security.
Tracking devices gather data and help in monitoring health and other activities. However, these are the least intrusive of all. Tech companies have pushed it a notch by developing chips to be implanted under the skin or biosensing wearable devices to track behaviors.
The biggest hurdle arises from the pool of personal data gathered by these devices. Consumers worry about how the devices or the companies behind them can invade their privacy as they upload sensitive data to unknown servers owned by some company which could close down or sell the data or change their fine print anytime.
Privacy concerns arise. Patients (or consumers) have questions: Who has access to the data? Who owns it? Can they share it? Is it sold? Loaned? How will I know it is safe and not divulged to anyone else?
We do not have answers to this questions and the ones we have are grossly inadequate.