ICL study finds adaption of new technologies has benefited patients
An Imperial College-led study has found that the adoption of new technologies into the health and care environments has benefited both patients and staff. 2,200 workers were involved in the global study across six countries that found improvements in the way employees work and are able to treat their patients. Access to healthcare has also been boosted through the use of video technologies for patients.
Digital and data tools such as online portals and video consultations have been used more and more within the healthcare sector, an area which has been historically slow in the up-take of new technological services. Increased administration, funding shortages and a lack of interconnectivity between IT systems have been seen by healthcare management as restrictions to their implementation. However, the feedback from users has been positive on the whole. 65% of respondents to the survey said that these methods have brought improved outcomes for citizens. 60% reported better access to healthcare services also. Similar numbers (63%) indicated that staff productivity had been improved through their use, with 56% of participants saying technologies had enabled better collaboration across organisations. The data from the YouGov-run survey showed that the use of a range of tools including phone and video consultations, wearable devices and online self-assessment services has doubled.
Some concerns were highlighted through the survey, including the sustainability of these technological tools. Factors including data security and investment appeared to be challenges to the longer-term usability of the resources. 48% of respondents said that they see themselves continuing to use these tools into the future. Participants did also flag the ongoing need for supported in-person services. This is due to potential blind-spots in virtual health services, and the need for identifying nuances or red flags that are harder to spot online. Mental health workers were less certain of the commitment of their managers to maintain virtual services into the future due to financial reasons.
The survey authors highlighted a number of key recommendations to ensure that the benefits of technological transformation in healthcare can continue. These include payment incentives from Government, common data standards and the elimination of system interoperability hurdles. Regulators, service providers and users themselves will all need to co-operate in order to overcome such challenges for the health and care sectors, the report said.