Technology in healthcare has been a hot topic in recent years. Although there are many obvious positive sides to implementing technology in healthcare, there are also a lot of challenges as well.
In this article, you’ll find out about some of the most common problems healthcare workers face with technology in healthcare.
5 Current Challenges with Technology in Healthcare
The information below was found from the sources referenced at the bottom of this article, as well as through talking to healthcare workers (employed in Sweden).
1. Patient Records and Databases are a Mess
Developing systems for electronic healthcare records (EHR) is a great ambition. Such systems enable doctors and nurses to look up patients’ earlier files through digital interfaces. Otherwise, they’d need to call or fax other hospitals to get the same data.
What is EHR?
Electronic healthcare records (EHR) systems collect the medical records of patients. This means that it’s possible to share medical records amongst different hospitals and doctors.
However, medical workers do face many challenges with these systems.
One challenge is that the data collected isn’t standardized. This means that there isn’t a set standard for how hospitals and doctors record patient data.
Different hospitals and regions have their data in different formats. The effect of this is that the data can’t be integrated effectively. The data can’t be collected and displayed together well.
One example is that systems sometimes fail in recognizing that two sets of files are about the same person.
When the data isn’t standardized, it also leads to difficulties with withdrawing data from the database when needed. It leads to challenges with creating a centralized database with all relevant healthcare records.
2. Bad Software UX & UI Design
Software programs for medical equipment (especially old ones) are often badly designed. This happened because the usability and user experience f the interfaces weren’t taken into consideration when creating the software.
Example of bad UX and UI in healthcare technology
Doctors have complained, that EHRs (electronic healthcare record) systems are badly designed. They state that the systems require far too many clicks and navigations to reach one goal. This takes away attention from the patients.
The reason for this is because those systems were created originally for billing and not patient care. But they are being used for patient care now since there are no better alternatives. And that’s why this needs to change.
Another problem is that some systems display too much data on the screen. This results in a long processing time and affects the quality and efficiency of patient care.
3. Out-Dated Technology
Modern software today is developed with much more attention to usability and user experience, compared to old technology. Older technology is known to be much harder to learn and use.
Regardless of that, hospitals and health centers still use a lot of old technology.
The problem lies in that it’s difficult to upgrade medical equipment. And to avoid this problem, it’s easier to just not upgrade equipment.
So this forces nurses and doctors to continue working with out-dated technology.
And how can this be solved? In my understanding, we need more competences and resources directed at creating better technology. We also need to recruit more people that can work on improving the integration between new software and older medical equipment.
4. Lack of a Well-Integrated System
Another challenge with current technology in healthcare is that doctors and nurses need to jump in and out of multiple applications and systems to do their job. This is highly ineffective. An integrated system containing all relevant patient records and data could solve this problem.
But now we’re back to the first problem, that the data we currently have isn’t standardized. Because the data isn’t standardized, it’s super hard to create a well-integrated system for all medical data.
The first step would logically to at least from now set a standardized format between all hospitals. Perhaps even globally.
5. Weak Overall Implementation
The last challenge on this list is that there’s a weak overall implementation of technology in healthcare. This is a problem that needs to be solved before we can utilize emerging (and better designed) healthcare technology.
The weak implementation of healthcare systems is partly to blame for the fact that healthcare technologies are highly complex. Since they are so complex, they demand a steep learning curve.
However, those who need to learn how to use the systems (nurses and doctors), don’t always have the time. But they use it anyway. And when you use a system without a comprehensive understanding of them, it can lead to errors and malpractice.
To solve this, future technology for healthcare must be designed with user experience in mind. Nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers also need to get a proper education in learning systems with steep learning curves.
It is problematic that there are so many challenges in healthcare and technology. The good news, however, is that this is one of the most researched fields at the moment. Let’s hope all the money that goes into the development and research of emerging technology for healthcare pays off.
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