Healthcare Technology Featured Article

July 29, 2015

Bridging the Digital Divide: It's Not Going Well for Healthcare Groups


With any new technology, there's always a certain learning curve and a period of expansion. But there comes a point at which the technology should be ubiquitous, or at least getting there, and that period doesn't seem to be coming as fast as it should in the healthcare market. A global survey staged by Validic shows how far the field has come, but more importantly, how far it has yet to go.

With over 450 organizations responding to the Validic survey—titled “Global Progress on Digital Health”—the results were quite telling. Fifty-nine percent of respondents to the survey proved to be either behind on current plans, or had no plans in place at all. The 41 percent left, meanwhile, were on schedule in both setting up and acting on the strategies in place.

These strategies can cover a wide variety of options, including both hardware- and software-based solutions that allow for an individual, or a population, to have its various health conditions analyzed, tracked and monitored as needed. Digital health strategies have already been found to have a positive benefit, making more and better healthcare options available in some cases while reducing costs and improving overall quality in others.

Validic's chief marketing officer, Chris Edwards, offered up some comment around the study, saying “We are seeing strong examples of companies who are innovating and making progress leveraging digital health to help them advance their overall business. It was interesting to find that more than half of healthcare organizations say they have no digital health strategy or are behind schedule . . . Digital health is moving from being a competitive, speed-to-market advantage to being a vital component of a company's success and relevance in the new healthcare landscape. Now is the time to be executing.”

So the question becomes one of why; why aren't these programs up and running yet, if such even exist at all? Of course, there are some possibilities; the study covered a wide variety of industries within the healthcare field; respondents reportedly included not only hospitals, but also firms with a wellness focus, as well as pharmaceutical makers and healthcare technology firms. It's entirely possible that some of these firms wouldn't have a digital health strategy as it may not always be applicable. Some hospitals, for example, may not be in a position to bring in at least some digital health tools due to issues of cost or building layout; it's hard to get a wireless signal working in a building with a  lot of angles and cinderblock construction.

Basically, it's not always a matter of healthcare firms lagging behind the latest technology because of a hidebound culture that refuses to change. There may be good reason for that 59 percent to be slower in change, if changing at all. That said, there are too many clear benefits for such systems to be dismissed, so that 59 percent that's behind could benefit from taking another look at what's available, lest something valuable be missed.  




Edited by Dominick Sorrentino





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