When you consider the challenges surrounding improving interoperability alongside healthcare’s continued focus on data security, it may not be surprising that it lags behind other industries in the adoption of digital technology. Healthcare providers spend significant resources every year maintaining a library of niche applications and supporting multiple versions of core systems, all to ensure the security of their data. Some of these systems are duplicates in some cases due to the expense and operational challenges involved in standardizing them. Those factors, along with resistance by clinical staff to changes that might affect the way they spend their time, help to explain why the healthcare industry has historically been a decade or more behind other industries in making technological change.
Cost considerations are certainly in play in many of the areas where technology has been implemented. It’s expensive to install electronic claims and billing systems, electronic healthcare records (EHRs), enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and other types of digital tools that other industry verticals have long since implemented like cloud-based versions. In many cases, such as with EHRs, regulation has been needed to drive the adoption of technology.
The struggle with user-friendliness happens not only on the back end, but in the way healthcare providers interact with their patients and customers. Retail and consumer-product companies entered the healthcare market with a more progressive focus on the user experience, forcing healthcare systems to rethink the way they interact digitally with their patients. Driven by a more technology-savvy populace, more healthcare institutions need to advance their ability to seamlessly provide things like online appointment scheduling, pricing and cost research, and access to personal medical information.