When discussing artificial intelligence and the use of other technologies in healthcare, it is natural to assume that doctors are impacted the most. While this assumption has merit, the proliferation of technology throughout the healthcare industry is having just as much of an impact on healthcare administrators. From ethical concerns to financial decisions, technology will be a talking point in health system boardrooms for years to come. Here are four ways that technology is impacting health system administrators.
Using Data To Improve Care
There is an incredible amount of information currently being collected by healthcare providers, but the question on many administrators’ minds is how to best utilize it to improve patient care. Some forward-thinking organizations are utilizing the data as research into best practices for clinical care. Referred to as a learning health system, data analytics are used as part of a larger effort where clinicians and administrators collaborate on ways to present evidence-based information to patients. This approach is utilized to influence patients in taking a more proactive approach to their own health and also to improve care in the future.
Telemedicine and Beyond
Although telemedicine has yet to be widely adopted, it does hold promise as a way to increase access to care and hold down costs. Some health systems are taking it a step further and creating virtual care centers, where every patient is evaluated remotely. Virtual care requires a patient to communicate with their care provider via a video link while the physician gets vitals and other information through an iPad application. Administrators are wrestling with these technologies to determine how much of an investment to make and how much willingness there is within their patient population to alter the nature of doctor-patient interactions.
Ethics in the Age of Technology
There is no disputing the amazing technological advancements that have been made in recent years. Things that were previously known only to science fiction movies are now in the mainstream. Consider the diagnostic enhancements of artificial intelligence, the precision of robotic surgeries, nanotechnology and gene therapy. What hasn’t kept pace with the technology, however, are the policy and ethical guidelines for utilizing everything technology can offer. Healthcare administrators are lacking the over-arching support that robustly debated and published guidelines provide when tackling the ethical complexities that exist as technology proliferates.
Can EHR Hurdles Be Overcome?
The concept of electronically managing every bit of patient information has turned out to be better in theory than in practice for many healthcare administrators. And truthfully, physicians aren’t that thrilled about it either. In a Deloitte survey of 3,000 physicians, only 10% responded that their current EHR system was fine as is. For healthcare administrators, the technology itself is costly, but the human cost of time and effort to maintain the records dwarf any software costs. Considering that electronic health records have been around for more than a decade, one would think that the many bugs would be ironed out by now. Unfortunately, EHR systems were initially built on obsolete technology platforms with very little design consideration and no standardized guidelines. There may be relief in sight as some technology experts feel that Blockchain technology can be the cure that EHRs desperately need. Considering the current pain caused by EHR systems, the utilization of blockchain technology for health-related applications bears watching.
Technology advancements are inherently designed to simplify or enhance our lives and create efficiencies in the workplace and the world around us. For healthcare administrators, technology creates a unique set of opportunities and challenges to consider. And the speed with which technology continues to shape the patient experience and impact the delivery of care puts more pressure on administrators to keep pace and stay ahead of the curve.
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