Consumer-facingTechnologies in Health Care Systems
Consumer-facingTechnologies in Health Care Systems
Healthcaredelivery is one of the areas of attention for different societiesacross the world. The scenario is chiefly motivated by the view thatthe health is one of the tenets of sustainable development. Indeed,the relationship between health and sustainable development isplausible. Overlooking the health sector is likely to be accompaniedby adverse consequences such as illnesses that would cost the societya lot amount of resources that would have otherwise been channeledfor other purposes of social and economic development. In light ofthis view, different countries around the globe have been grapplingto improve health status. Policymakers are now relentlessly engagedin deliberations on just how the communities could be supported torealize sustainable health. Despite different forms of commitment,several health challenges have persisted, a situation that hascompelled policymakers to start looking for appropriate solutions torising above the challenge (Young&. DeVoe, 2012).Some of the problems include the high cost of health care increasedhospital visits and the lack of equitable health care access mediateby culture and socioeconomic status. While different suggestions havebeen put forth, the call for health care systems to embracetechnologies has been perhaps the most notable. Such advocaciescreate the allowance to question how technologies are beneficial tohealth care systems (NationalHealth care, 2012).This paper explores the significance of technologies in the deliveryof health care, focusing on the roles, merits, and limitations of thepatient-facing technologies.
Technologiesare playing a pivotal role in supporting health care in differentways. These technologies span apps, wearable devices, websitepatients can use to regulate their health issues, and thosephysicians can use to stay in permanent contact with patients. Thereare so many types of technologies supporting health care deliverythat the list of such technologies is endless. Perhaps the mostappropriate way of approaching these technologies is broadlycategorizing them based on their functions, and giving only a fewexamples under each category. Some of the classes of the technologiesare as follows.
Medicationadherence:These techniques are aimed at supporting patients to adhere to theprescriptions, as well as avoid medication errors. One of theexamples of technologies include the medication reminders, whichcomprises of an application that can be customized to send messagesor notify patients through alarm systems to swallow drugs atprescribed times. The dispensers all serve the similar purpose bydispensing drugs to the patients in prescribed quantity and timeprescribed for patients to take.
Medicationreconciliation technologies: Themedication reconciliation techniques, for example, the medicationlist software, are applications charts that guide physicians inproviding drugs recommended for different patient complications. Theessence of this group of technologies is minimizing the medicationerrors.
Remotepatient monitoring: Thisgroup of technologies is aimed at helping physicians to monitorpatients in remote environments. The examples include in-homediagnostic services and telemedicine kits, which identify themedication needs for patients for effective treatment.
Personalhealth information systems: Thegoal of the personal health information systems is to providedifferent forms of information that might interest physicians whiletreating a patient. The essence of these technologies is borne on thefact that some patients have historical complications that physiciansmay wish to consider when providing treatment. Ideally, based on thecriticality of their state or memory status, many patients are unableto provide this information to the physicians timely. The personalhealth information systems bridge this gap. It is worth noting thatother forms of technologies, for instance, the problem detectionalgorithms, are necessary for promoting effective self-management.
Socialsupport systems: Thesocial support systems are aimed at providing social support to thepatients. The social media networks are increasingly playing apivotal role in providing social support to victims. The applicationsallow patients with common problems to communicate and shareconstructive ideas regarding their problems, including encouragingeach other as a means of self-insurance. Such social networks mayalso be paired with physicians who provide information necessary tothe patient’s welfare.
Remotetraining and supervision technologies: Theexamples of these techniques are video conferencing, which enablephysicians and patients to convene meetings and share informationremotely. A typical scenario that video conferencing can benefitpatients is group training, counseling to overcome certain troublingcomplications.
Patientdata and information management systems: The goal of patient data and information management systems is tocollect, organize, analyze, and present information in a way that canbe meaningful to the policymakers, physicians, and the patients. Theexample of such systems is the electronic health register, which issupporting efficient and timely decision-making processes. Effectivepatient care should use technologies efficiently and be guided bynursing and informatics ideas. The professional practice of nursinginformatics includes the collection of nursing data, organizing, andrepresentation of the collected data in electronic format. Healthcare professionals, who are specialized in informatics, combine theknowledge of health studies, computer applications, and informationtechnology to enable efficient storage and retrieval of patients’data in the medical institutions. They also simplify documentation ofpatient’s records using electronic systems such as computers,mobile gadgets, and voice sensing devices. Nursing informatics isaimed at enhancing the accuracy of data and enables easy analysis tothe improved health care system (Berner, 2014).
Self-managementtechnologies: Theself-management technologies are aimed at increasing the capacity ofthe patients to manage their health conditions without requiring theintervention of the physicians. These techniques are varied dependingon the terms of the patients. For instance, diabetes management kitallows patients to monitor their glucose levels.
Telemedicine:Telemedicine describes a health care approach that employsinformation technologies and telecommunication to provide clinicalcare from a distance. This method is lauded because it helps breakthe distance barriers of health care access. Some of the servicesthat can be offered through this approach include education,medicalprescriptions, consultation,and public awareness. Telemedicinelends itself as a new and innovative approach of equitable healthcaredelivery, but it is yet to be fully ingrained in many health carecontexts. Therefore, the implementation of telemedicine would go along way in benefiting the health care system and increasing patientsatisfaction.
Diagnostictechnologies: Thegoal of the diagnostic technologies is to be able to facilitate thephysicians in conducting accurate and timely diagnostic processes toinform appropriate treatment. The diagnostic techniques are varieddepending on the conditions for which they are applied. According toNagel,and Penner (2015),almost every process of diagnosis is supported by thestate-of-the-art technologies. For instance, PET technologies are nowincreasingly dominant in the diagnosis of cancers.
Clientmanagement systems: Thecustomer management systems are technologies employed incommunicating and serving patients, as well as managing theinventories. The examples of the customer`s systems include customerrelationship management systems, RFID systems, and computerizedcustomer management systems.
TheAdvantages and Limits of the Consumer-facing Technologies in HealthCare Systems
Thereare various complexities that call for institutions to embraceinformed strategies to operate efficiently. For instance,globalization has paved the way for organizations across the world towork seamlessly across borders, implying the business environment ischaracterized by heightened competition that players must nowcontend. Secondly, market regulations have been increasing over time,requiring that companies align their practices with the legalrequirements lest they be penalized (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2012).It is noteworthy that these regulations are particularly demandingand can even compromise the ability of institutions to grow orsurvive on the market. Thirdly, the business environment is alsomarred with uncertainties such as economic downturns, which meansorganizations need to weigh their operation strategies effectively,managing risks while exploiting the market opportunities. Fourthly,since the market is saturated with schools offering more or less thesame products, the consumers and suppliers now command highbargaining powers over institutions. This situation requires theagencies to be keen to reflect the interests of these players in theoperation processes. At the same time, there is also a call forsustainable practices through corporate social responsibility andobserving rules and regulations, which is also a costly practice.Therefore, for business owners and managers, the issue invites thequestion of what needs to be done to survive and grow (QualcommWireless Reach Initiative, 2014).
Aspart of the solution to the problem, the society is increasinglylooking to operation management practices. Operation management, inthis case, is lauded because it focuses on designing and controllingproduction processes, aligning business activities with the marketdemands (Vrande,Jeroen, Jong & Rochemont, 2013 Armstrong, 2012).However, even operation management has its inherent challenge — itis evolving drastically and tends to rely heavily on technologicalsolutions. Therefore, success is not just about having an operationmanagement strategy but adapting to available technologies.These techniques have been found to play a crucial role in enhancinghealth care quality, including reducing hospitalization, improvingclinical outcomes, increasing patient satisfaction, and life qualityfor the physicians and patients.
Forinstance, Wolderslund,Kofoed, and Holst (2015) havenoted that one of the outstanding achievements of the technologieshas been the ability to reduce the costs of health care delivery. Theauthors observe that the cost reduction can be seen in terms ofreduced medication errors linked with accurate diagnostictechnologies, reduced hospital visits following enhanced self-caresystems, and reduced queue time. Smeby,Johnsen, Marhaug (2015),on the other hand, lauds the health care technologies as a pivotaldriver of patient satisfaction, which is a predictor of continued useof health care services. The author discusses that part of theproblem to access of attention has been the lack of trust that theservices offered could be beneficial to them. The technologies havenow bridged these limitations by providing appealing and satisfactoryservices. Moreover, they perceive the benefit of the technologies asefficiency and quality. The authors consider that technologies havecreated an allowance for the physicians to discharge services timelyand accurately while saving the resources.
Nevertheless,Kristensen,Hammer, and Bartels (2015) providea comprehensive insight on how technologies are playing a crucialrole in supporting self-management and bridging the gap in medicationliteracy. Indeed, the low literacy as a critical challenge tosustainable health care. The article notes the problem is so rampantsuch that as significant as 50 percent of the Americans have theliteracy challenge. The problem is exacerbated by the existence of adisconnect between the health care community and the patients. Thephysicians always assume that all patients are intelligent, whichcauses them to use the college-level communication when the averageliteracy level of the mainstream US population is only the 8th grade.There are various ways in which patients are suffering because of lowhealth literacy. For instance, some patients are reported to sign theconsent forms without understanding the underpinning terms whileothers just take the drugs without adhering to the instructionsbecause they cannot read. Theproblem negatively affects the patients under the care of parents andguardians with a low level of literacy (Atif,Endres & Macdonald, 2013).The problem follows from the fact that individuals in charge of thepatients will not be able to understand the health needs. Thelack of the skill has beenparticularly documented that limited health literacy is associatedwith problems such as the delayed diagnosis, limited use ofpreventive health care service, misunderstanding of medicationcomplications, non-adherence to drug use instructions and poorself-management skills. Thecost of low health literacy accounts for $238billion of theU.S.health care expenditure. However, the use of various technologies hasbeen reducing these incidences (Qualcomm Wireless Reach Initiative,2013 Lorien, Nalini. Lalida & Todd, 2012).
Inlight of the different benefits, Smeby,Johnsen and Marhaug (2015) havenoted that the list of ways that the technologies have beenbeneficial to health care systems and include reducingcosts,increasingaccess, reducing medication errors, overcoming the distance barriers,supporting planning, improving efficiency and enhancing the qualityof delivered services.
TheLimitations of the Technologies
However,there are certain areas of weaknesses regarding their implementationbecause the practice and adoption are uneven across the participatinghealth care facilities. Leadershipand management are the most cited barrier to adoption of technologiesin health care settings (that is Berner,2014 Gerrish & Lacey, 2013).Berner(2014),for instance, notes that many health care facilities are laggingbehind in technologies because of the lack of commitment from theleaders and managers. Leaders and managers tend to have differentpriorities and culture that are far removed from embracinginnovativeness. Many leaders and managers lay emphasis on traditionaltechniques of optimizing the use of resources, rather than seekingnew, innovative technologies to maximize resource utilization.
Thelack of knowledge is the second most cited after leadership andmanagement (Gerrish& Lacey, 2013).Gerrishand Lacey (2013), forinstance, discuss that technological environment is a rapid one andoften tends to find the market unprepared in terms of skills.Therefore, by the time the market starts adapting and embracing thetechnologies, quality health care would be delayed. The author mainlyreports that as significant as 32 percent of heath care facilities inthe world lag in innovativeness because of the lack knowledge(Gerrishand Lacey, 2013).
Thecost of innovation features in the discussions just as many times asthe lack of knowledge (forexample Gonen, Sharon, Lev-Ari, Strauss & Segev, 2015).Gonen,Sharon, Lev-Ari, Strauss and Segev (2015)notably discuss the costs of innovations are always prohibitivelyexpensive for some organizations. Some health care facilities havelimited finance to dedicate to innovations. Their prohibitive,expensiveness nature is exacerbated by the fact that many newtechnologies also tend to be expensive to adopt at the initial stagesbecause they might require training, change management and evenrecruitment — all of which are a costly affair.
Therefore,the impediments to innovation capacity can be categorized into threemanagement and leadership problem, the cost of change, the lack ofknowledge. In this regard, there is the need to address these areas.
Inconclusion, the technologies are befitting the healthcare systems indifferent ways. The list of ways that the technologies have beenbeneficial to health care systems include reducingcosts,increasingaccess, reducing medication errors, overcoming the distance barriers,supporting planning, improving efficiency and enhancing the qualityof delivered services. The scope of use of technologies is so broadthat the subject can only be best illustrated using examples. Thecurrent state of technologies in health care systems is progressiveand promising, characterized by the influx of different technologies.These technologies span apps, wearable devices, website patients canuse to regulate their health issues, and those physicians can use tostay in permanent contact with patients.
However,there are certain implementation issues, evidenced by uneven adoptionand use of these technologies across different facilities. Thebarriers can be attributed to leadershipcommitment, weak organization culture and knowledge problems andcosts of adoption issues.Theproblem of the lack of leadership commitment can be efficientlysolved by encouraging institution management and leadership torefocus their priorities on innovation. The challenge of weakorganization culture could be addressed by promoting leadership andmanagement reforms that are conducive to innovation. Reforms couldmainly lay emphasis on changing the organization structures toimprove communication and make the decision-making process rapid.Thelack of knowledge can be efficiently solved by training the peoplewhom the innovation concerns. It is particularly recommended that,whenever a new, potentially beneficial innovation enters the market,health care facilities should respond by training its employees fastto make them suited to the change. In this case, training is aimed atimproving the capacity for understanding how the innovation works, aswell as enable them to deal with any related challenges. Training isindisputably crucial because it equips individuals with skills. Thecost of innovation could be addressed by availing financial supportto the health care facilities to enable them to overcome theunderlying economic challenges. The government should also come inhandy by creating an elaborate economic environment that is conducivefor health care technologies.The consequences of failing to make these changes are profound andimply heath care facilities will not be able to deliver the desiredhealth care quality. Moreover, the recommendations are demanding, andthe implementation of the changes will need to be systematic andholistic, considering the required resources and concerted effortsfrom all the concerned players.
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