The healthcare industry stands upon the precipice of a technological revolution the likes of which we’ve never seen before. Just take a moment to think of all the major advances that have already happened within business and organization. That is merely a drop in the bucket — a brief preview — of what’s to come, but healthcare has taken its time in fully embracing the advancements it now encounters. While that might come across as disappointing and not very patient-centered to some, in many ways it’s a necessary move when dealing with as sensitive an area as healthcare. But all that caution has led to this moment, where the industry now has to figure out the best way to handle the rapid tech advances coming its way. It’s pretty much an exciting yet frustrating time for the healthcare industry as a whole.
The incredible pace of these advances can best be seen in the number of new patents being introduced each year. Back in 2005, that number at least in terms of utility patents reached more than 143,000. Flash-forward to the year 2015, and the number of utility patents had increased to nearly 300,000. In other words, ideas and designs are flooding the world, and the healthcare industry is experiencing that shift first hand. Needless to say, it’s considered a significant challenge for the industry, and health professionals have needed to adapt to keep up with the patents and new technologies that are cropping up.
You’ve likely heard of some of these new technologies, if not experienced it for yourself. Machine learning algorithms can help medical professionals diagnose diseases for patients, providing an early warning and treatment to help improve overall health. 3D printing technology has allowed for the manufacturing of medical devices and prosthetics.
The same technology may soon be used for creating human tissues and body parts. Telemedicine has also been growing in popularity, giving people who live in rural areas the chance to see a doctor for a regular checkup, even if they live far from a hospital or clinic. Quantum computing, big data, flash storage, and more all play a role in the changing healthcare landscape.
So how does the healthcare industry handle this flood of new ideas, designs, and technologies? Some of the answers can be found in technology itself. For example, innovation management software is a way for healthcare organizations to manage ideas presented by physicians, nurses, and others without those ideas getting lost or discarded partway through the pipeline. This type of software has normally been used for businesses, but healthcare institutions have used it for their own purposes. With this tool, the ideas presented to administrators can be vetted, patented, copyrighted, marketed, and more, providing an innovative solution to other organizations in the process.
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges, as well as the main reason healthcare organizations are reluctant to adopt new technology, deals directly with health data security. As concepts like the Internet of Things (IoT) become a reality, the number of mobile healthcare devices will no doubt increase at an even more rapid pace. The healthcare industry is trying to keep ahead of these devices by introducing universal security standards and features in all devices that handle vital health information. The fact that these devices connect to the web, usually through a cloud service, only makes this challenge all the more formidable.
Much of what makes this possible is an added emphasis on effective leadership. Those minds who have the vision to see ahead and prepare their organizations for what future technology will do to healthcare quickly find themselves at the forefront of this movement. Great leaders with an eye for the future can create a healthcare culture that embraces these changes while also laying the foundation for the challenges ahead. Without the steady hand of an effective leader, most healthcare institutions will find themselves getting left behind.
While the healthcare industry is certainly not afraid of the new flood of medical technologies and ideas, there’s good reason for a hesitancy to quickly adopt them. Even so, by carefully applying these technologies and ensuring organizations are ready to handle them, they’re setting themselves up for a successful future where patient care is improved by a significant margin.
~ Rick Delgado