Hospitals are late adopters of technology in India as well as worldwide. There are several factors contributing to this trend. I have tried to address some of these factors based on my experience with Hospitals in India.
- RoI on Technology Investment
For C-level executives, the RoI on technology investment is not convincing. A survey of more than 200 hospital CIOs, pointed out that only around 40 percent measure ROI on their EHR implementations. And only 36 percent of this smaller group is convinced their ROI calculations are accurate.
- Surplus Revenue
Not all hospitals and clinics have the capital or infrastructure to invest in new technologies or even required technologies, such as EHR. This factor applies to small rural hospitals particularly. They operate on wafer thin margins, as a result are not able to invest in required technologies.
- Maintenance and Sustainment Costs
After initial investment in technology, hospitals are concerned about maintenance and sustenance cost. Cloud and mobile based applications have reduced the initial cost and also removed the maintenance costs. Emergence of Cloud and IoT have introduced security concerns. The cloud has also introduced concerns about the data privacy and additional compliance requirements. These factors have added additional cost to the cloud solutions.
- Lack of spare time
We live in a country which stands second in terms of population. This definitely reflects on each industry. In hospitals all the staff including doctors or nurses are overloaded with work. Their more focus is on care giving and not able to devote required time for learning technology. This is very important point to focus, because even with latest technology, lack of time for learning it can increase their work instead of reducing it.
- Technical Awareness
No doubt doctors are very brilliant in their work, but somehow it is seen that they are always two steps behind when it comes to technology adoption. Therefore, the technology we provide to them should have user friendly UI, very easy to access and least steps are needed to do any task. Doctors and hospital staff find easier to maintain traditional paper records than using EHR. There is some learning curve in technology adoption and care givers are not able to take out required time to cross this curve.
- Resistance to change
It is a human nature to resist any change in routine. In India sometimes, hospitals are so small that they prefer oral communication instead of any technology. But, here we need to understand the medical errors that can happen because of oral communication. They love their work in which way they do it. So, to make sure people will try new approach or technology, we should make it very interesting. Only if people find it ‘interesting + easy to use’ only then they will start using it. Otherwise it will be a hassle for them.
- Integration with other Applications and Devices
Healthcare information systems are large, complex systems that are usually poorly integrated, because of underfunding for many years. This means that the benefits of mobile/cloud applications in relation to data access and integration are not easily realised because they are not fully integrated with other applications and devices.
- Security Concerns
Today it had been nearly 20 years, HIPAA has existed to keep patient information safe. But as we move further and further into a technologically driven world, the simple rules of HIPAA may not be enough to keep patients’ medical records and data safe. Patient satisfaction is an important element of healthcare. And as more stories crop up about hackers stealing data, not just from hospitals, but from insurance companies and retailers, people are becoming more serious about data security with each passing day. This can also be factor in decision making for technology adoption.
- Push from Regulators
Technology vendors and entrepreneurs are eying upon Indian healthcare market as the same is booming and has great commercial significance for the coming decades. And since it is not enforced by regulation, compliances may ignored or violated. Whether it is online pharmacies, e-health, m-health, telemedicine, mobile medical devices and applications, the non-compliance or loose compliance can introduce the risks for patient privacy and health.
Although we have no law on the lines of United States’ Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 yet there are numerous statutory provisions that must be complied with. These include privacy law compliances, data protection requirements, cloud computing compliances, encryption related compliances etc. But these laws should be strictly enforced to make the impact on ground.
In addition to above challenges, there are some additional barriers to the adoption of new technology that may be specific to rural areas: personnel, physical space, and Internet access etc. Therefore it is necessary to ensure hospital administrators that the product is easy to learn, easy to use, would save time in reporting the medical information, and that would provide quality assurance, thus lessening time demand and responsibilities for the quality care.
An additional barrier for rural and small hospitals relates to space. These hospitals will prefer to use the space required for deploying computers and networking devices to additional beds. Though this factor will after be weighed down by emergence of cloud computing and mobile apps.
These are just few barriers, It might look discouraging for technology providers to enter in hospital segment. The scene is changing due to technology adoption in other sectors and customers becoming more tech savvy. Increased RoI on technology investment in IoT and the demand from tech savvy patients as well as medical tourism will encourage hospitals to start investing in technology and be part of the IoT revolution.