Technologies such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality are shaping the future of medicine, improving the experience for both patients and physicians alike. With inspiring stories of success, like the one about Google’s DeepMind breast cancer spotting AI, there is no denying that implementing new technology in healthcare can mean the difference between life and death.
However, like everything else in life it’s worth remembering that many innovations are a double-edged sword: breakthrough methods, treatments, and tools can cause as much damage as good if not used competently.
The Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI) ensures we do not forget. Its annual report, "Top 10 Health Technology Hazards”, lists major digital challenges in the medical industry which can affect your practice and the safety of your patients. We’ve picked our TOP 3—let’s give them a closer look and discover potential solutions to looming problems.
Top health tech hazards to watch out for
Why it’s a problem: Every year cyberattacks are a recurring problem within the healthcare industry. Yet, despite this vulnerability, the average cybersecurity budget in healthcare facilities is still extremely low.
Medical practices and hospitals store patients' data, names, addresses, Social Security numbers, medical records, etc., that can be easily compromised if the proper security measures are not implemented.
An example? Shields Health Care Group, which became a target of a recent cyberattacks this year. As a result of the breach, the personal medical data of two million people was accessed by an unauthorized party!
In 2021, most of the responding US healthcare organizations had spent from three to six percent
of their IT budget on cybersecurity.
Besides interfering with everyday business operations, hackers have the ability to delay procedures or disrupt the work of medical devices by shutting down the whole computer system and network. Unfortunately, life-threatening situations are the perfect target for cybercriminals, as the possibility of a healthcare provider paying the ransom is very high.
“Healthcare breaches cost the most by far, at $9.23 million per incident – a $2 million increase over the previous year.”
Possible solution: With healthcare technology challenges like cyberattacks, it's not a matter of "if" but "when." To protect essential systems and records and keep patients data safe, every facility will need a solid strategy and safety protocols activated during a cybernetic incident.
There are simple solutions that you can apply in everyday practice. These include software updates that patch old vulnerabilities, anti spam email programs, password policy and multi-factor authentication, network protection, and cybersecurity training for all workers and medical staff.
Why it is a problem: Telehealth was brought to light during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the benefits of its permanent implementation outnumber the disadvantages. However, making it trouble-free for patients and healthcare providers takes some effort.
One of the most frequently raised concerns regarding telemedicine is misdiagnosis. Low-quality video and poor-quality connection can decrease the diagnosis’ accuracy. When conducting remote appointments, doctors also risk the possibility of treating someone outside of their licensed area.
Despite appreciating the convenience of telehealth, patients are concerned about their privacy and personal data protection. That doesn’t come as a surprise as clinicians tend to use applications like Facebook Messenger or Zoom, which don’t guarantee data safety.
“91% of global healthcare providers have already implemented telehealth capabilities, and most of them only started to use telehealth after the pandemic began.”
Possible solution: Despite numerous challenges, telehealth is one of the most promising technologies in healthcare. To combat the risk of misdiagnosing, doctors should recommend in-person medical care or rescheduling the call whenever they have trouble seeing or hearing their patients well. Physicians should also be mindful of online patients’ locations and not treat someone outside their licensed area.
Additionally, ensure your staff is properly trained for what can be scheduled as a telehealth appointment vs an in office appointment. If your practice doesn't have the time or tools to train or you simply don't have enough receptionists, consider outsourcing your appointment scheduling to specialized outsourced receptionists.
Wi-Fi connectivity issues
Why it is a problem: Hospitals need a robust, well-designed wireless infrastructure to seamlessly support the work of busy doctors and nurses running from one patient to another. The biggest challenge is connecting and properly prioritizing all working IoT and wireless devices.
There are 10-to-15 million medical devices in US hospitals and an average of 10-to-15 connected devices per patient bed. A vast majority of them require a stable Wi-Fi connection. Meanwhile, communication failures can easily delay patient care, threaten their health and create safety breaches for hackers. Not only can the network become quickly overwhelmed, but it can also be swiftly compromised if not encrypted correctly.
Possible solution: Large healthcare facilities rely heavily on a robust Wi-Fi network that can handle many devices grouped and secured within separate subnetworks. To reduce the risks of communication malfunctions, install live-time feedback and monitoring tools to keep technicians posted on the current status and improve Wi-Fi management.
Implementing new technologies in healthcare—the good and bad
Technology presents as many opportunities as challenges in modern healthcare delivery. Will your practice benefit from inventive solutions? That’s for you to decide. Caution is always advised when learning new enhancements and innovations. If you want to start small with a reliable service that will keep you close to your patients while embracing the changes of future medicine, visit our website and discover our solutions.