Does going digital make healthcare too complicated?

We have seen that healthcare is starting to shift towards digitization, and many believe that the future of healthcare will be digital. But there are some who are hesitant to adopt technology when it comes to their health, and it is not without reason.

As we have already seen, there are many benefits to the digitization of healthcare, the main ones being (1) convenience, (2) low-cost, (3) improved patient experiences, (4) improved access to healthcare and (5) decreased risks of acquiring an HAI. These benefits are all significant, but how will it affect the people who aren’t as familiar with technology or aren’t as tech-savvy’s access to healthcare?

A recent article published by Forbes discusses the difficulties that people trying to access online health services may face. According to the article, many online healthcare platforms are needlessly complicated and confusing, which makes many people more hesitant and less inclined to use these services.

According to Dale Cook, CEO of Learn to Live, an online mental health company,

“When people are already struggling with mental fitness, it can create limitations in how much bandwidth they have for complications. Facing technical problems when they’re trying to get help is the last distraction that they need.”

Dale Cook, Retrieved from Forbes.com (2019)

Learn to Live is one of the few online healthcare services that has been successful in creating an easy-to-use digital interface. They have done a lot of primary research, through the use of focus groups, user experiences and commentaries, which has allowed them to ensure that their clients have a pleasant experience.

So what can be done to make digital healthcare more accessible to all?

Burger (2019) stresses the importance of simplicity and empathy when designing an online medical service.

With the majority of developed nations experiencing an ageing population, those who are 70 and over will continue to be the group of people who consult doctors the most frequently. One concern is that the older population is not tech-savvy, and will not be able to use these online services. However, most of these people are able to use technology; online platforms just need to simplified for them to use.

In terms of empathy, the article discusses how online medical companies need to attempt to understand what their clientele is experiencing. For example, Jeff Johnson, a computer science professor from the University of San Francisco states,

“We see age-related changes beginning at age 50. That’s when fonts become too small, speech-enabled technologies are too fast and click targets are too little to hit reliably.”

Jeff Johnson, Retrieved from Forbes.com

Online health service companies need to understand that the clients seeking their help are either not well or concerned about their personal health. Taking this into consideration, it is essential that companies make their online interfaces more accessible for their clients.

The future of digital healthcare

As digital healthcare continues to become more important, it will be essential that these online health companies ensure that their services are simple for users, and that they take into consideration what patients may be going through when seeking their services.

Source:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2019/03/15/when-going-digital-makes-health-care-harder/#4d9bd6db340c

Prevention: The New Focus in Healthcare

Source: FreeStockPhotos

Hospital-acquired infections and drug-resistant superbugs are some of the biggest concerns in healthcare right now. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2050, more people will die from antibiotic-resistant bacteria than from cancer (2016). Furthermore, many of the diseases that cause people to be in the hospital in the first place, are preventable, such as heart disease and diabetes. This means that people are needlessly going to hospitals and subsequently risk being exposed to harmful infections. This is one of the reasons why a main priority right now in healthcare is shifting towards prevention and keeping people out of hospitals in the first place.

According to Nancy Brown, from the American Heart Association, “many of the things that bring people to the hospital can be prevented” (2019). In fact, during the World Economic Forum on the Future of Hospitals, which featured Brown as a speaker, it was discussed how 80% of health does not happen at the hospital, but rather, it happens at home, where individuals should consciously be making better decisions to be healthier.

Education about health should be a key priority for governments, hospitals and medical professionals, as it will reduce healthcare costs, prevent risks and occurrences of serious illnesses, and just make people more healthy in general. Brown stated that the way to doing this is to change people’s behaviours, either by inspiration, advocacy or even regulation. She also identified two key factors that are critical in influencing people’s unhealthy habits: environment and lifestyle. To quote her again,

“If you don’t have access to fresh foods, and the only thing you can have is processed and packaged food which is high in sodium and high in added sugar, why are we surprised that there’s an epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes?”

Nancy Brown, American Heart Association, 2019

Brown provides very interesting information about prevention, which is becoming more and more important in healthcare. According to Regina Benjamin, MD, it is crucial that disease prevention be intertwined into every aspect of our every day lives.

Benjamin lists 4 keys areas to improve in order to better prevent diseases:

  • Healthy and safe community environments
  • Clinical and community preventive services
  • Empowered people
  • Elimination of health disparities

People have the ability to prevent many diseases. With a good education about health, people can become more knowledgeable about how to take care of themselves and what diseases they are more prone to. This will lead to fewer hospitalizations and healthier people with a better quality of life. That is why this trend in healthcare is so important and it is great thing to move towards.

To watch the World Economic Forum discussion of The Future of Hospitals, see the video below:

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5MZP6dbhFI&t=1064s

https://drkevincampbellmd.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/changing-the-focus-of-healthcare-from-treatment-to-prevention/

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=54928#.WnikApM-cWo

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3185312/