Technology and the Internet of things hold great promise to improve our health and well-being. Internet-connected infusion pumps, imaging machines, blood-glucose sensors, and myriad more devices can automatically share valuable data to a person's electronic health record.
We can expect to see network-connected healthcare 'aides' playing an ever-greater role in delivering healthcare. Just imagine, "smart beds" that automatically detect if they're occupied – or if a patient has gone walkabout – and can track the quality of the patient's sleep. Wearables and implants can measure a patient's vital statistics, continuously log data and report, in real-time, any abnormalities to the appropriate clinical staff.We're not talking some far-distant future here either – a report last year from IDC indicated that enterprise mobility will have penetrated over 80% of MEA healthcare organisations by 2017, with over a third of organisations having already deployed corporate smart devices. Hospitals are increasingly looking to technology solutions to proactively advance patient care and improve outcomes, says Emir Susic, EMEA APS senior director at Avaya.
Healthcare organisations also understand that technology is a tool for driving efficiency and streamlining operations as well as improving patient outcomes. Networked devices are prevalent in hospitals already, with a growing number of nurses and doctors having transitioned away from clipboards and paper to WiFi-enabled communications devices and tablet computers.
Technology in healthcare does bring unique challenges. The highest standards must be met for patient security and safety at all times, with patients needing to have absolute confidence that their data is safe. Therefore, creating applications that can enhance the patient experience and improve the healthcare operator's efficiency can be more challenging than in other industries.
Adding to those challenges is that healthcare operators' patients are also other companies' customers and employees – and have correspondingly have high expectations of the experience they are looking to receive. People today are well aware of what good technology experiences look like and feel like – so why wouldn't they expect to receive those good experiences from their healthcare provider.
Many of us will be all too familiar with this scenario: you have to attend a hospital's emergency room for a medical crisis concerning you or a loved one. In a high-stress time, you will likely have to answer questions about medical history, insurance details, and so on before you can be seen to by an attending care practitioner. That practitioner will then refer you to a physician or other medical staff member – at which point you will likely have to give your details again!
While forward-thinking organisations are addressing these challenges, other healthcare organisations need to enter the digital era. Companies today don't want to risk losing customers as a result of a bad experience – and healthcare providers can't afford to think differently.
The reality is that traditional business communications have failed to keep pace with consumer-focused technological devices. The simplicity, built-in intelligence and sophistication of today's devices have taught consumers that it's not difficult to have satisfying, tailored experiences – every time. If healthcare providers want to improve our well-being, they need to give us the experiences we want.
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