Despite a flurry of innovations and technologies for healthcare cropping up on the market, their use and deployment remains fragmented across the world, with barriers around poor access, a lack of interoperability and challenges in embedding these tools into workflows continuing to hinder progress.

When looking at citizens’ attitudes, however, new research commissioned by Philips indicates that people would be more likely to use digital health technologies if they were recommended by a healthcare professional and if they had an “assurance” that their data would be kept secure.

Furthermore, according to the study, being able to share the information tracked with healthcare professionals also plays an important role in the decision to use digital health tools, as well as their affordability.

WHY IT MATTERS

The Philips 2019 Future Health Index, published earlier this month, aims to provide an insight on the impact of digital technology based on a survey of 15,000 citizens and over 3,100 healthcare professionals in 15 countries (Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Poland, the UK and the US).

Findings indicate that over 75% of the hospitals and practices where the professionals surveyed worked were using digital health records. However, challenges in deploying EHR systems were still reported, and the “common assumption” that digitisation could add more tasks from an administration standpoint to people’s jobs was also quoted in the research. 

In addition, survey results show that 80% of professionals were able to share patient information electronically with colleagues in their organisations, but only 32% had the ability to exchange data with professionals from other facilities. This was due to a lack of access to data sharing systems, interoperability, concerns around privacy and security, as well as a preference for using paper or phones instead. 

Meanwhile, 36% of citizens said they “regularly” shared health data tracked by using digital tools with the professionals caring for them, and that these provided “convenient” access to services and helped them feel “more in control” of their health. 

“Two-way sharing of information is not only essential to deliver the right care at the right time, it also helps to improve the patient and clinician experience,” said Jan Kimpen, Philips chief medical officer. “Informed and empowered patients also take better care of their health, which contributes to the last element of the Quadruple Aim – lower cost of care.”

ON THE RECORD

Looking at a country breakdown, the researchers said China, Saudi Arabia, India and Russia were leading the pack when looking at the use of emerging technologies to ensure people remained healthy and improve the care delivered to patients. 

“We know from the previous three editions of the FHI [Future Health Index] study that it is hard for countries with a developed healthcare system to change, simply because of the legacy,” Kimpen added. “So we should learn from countries with an emerging healthcare system that have leapfrogged in the adoption of digital technologies. Technology is no longer a limiting factor, the important thing for all of us is to be prepared for change.” 

WHAT’S THE TREND

In the 2018 study from Philips, researchers noted that adoption could be accelerated through education, after findings indicated that only 47% of the healthcare professionals and 24% of individuals surveyed said they felt “knowledgeable about connected care technologies”. They also called for both professionals and patients to be involved at earlier stages when developing solutions in order to help “secure buy-in”.



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