Connected healthcare is defined as the delivery of care by use of technology providing healthcare services remotely, and boasts the benefits of maximising healthcare resources, providing increased and more flexible opportunities for consumers to engage with clinicians, and better self-management of their care.
With new discoveries being continuously made in the field of genomics, precision medicine and personalization; consumer based technology solutions is putting the individual back in the driving seat in terms of their health and quality of life.
However, the Healthcare industry is known for its reluctancy to change. Whilst they are justifiably cautious, a few key issues are causing a major hindrance to growth for this emerging Healthtech community. According to Dell EMC, there are 4 key challenges facing Connected Care in the modern world:
Strict mandates are often cited as one of the absolutely primary reasons for the lack of ability to adapt to new technologies in health, but realistically, it makes sense that these safeguards be in place. When decisions and actions mean the difference between life and death, physicians and other caregivers are not allowed, or often willing, to deliver telemedicine services across state lines, for fear of interference.
Lagging reimbursement policies have also slowed telehealth adoption and innovation. Different states have various standards by which their Medicaid programs will reimburse for telehealth expenses - There is also no single widely accepted standard for private payers and patients, who often need to seek prior approval.
The healthcare industry has long struggled to protect patient privacy and meet extremely careful regulatory requirements. With Connected Health rising, the threat of online security breaches grows, running the risk of leaking incredibly personal data that can be held hostage with ransomware, or even sold to create fake identities.
Indeed, the very connectedness that delivers value also increases these security risks, beyond just the lost of private health information to the actual manipulation of devices and programs located within and outside of healthcare facilities. The vulnerability of wearable and implanted devices connected to the Internet is especially concerning, because hackers could gain control of a device and alter commands. The fear of an attack like this is actually why some heart patients decline remote monitoring of their pacemakers by their doctors. There is also the issue of blame here - as the concern is very new, patients, software developers, providers using the technology, and caregivers can be held responsible.
"In theory, the more data and data sources that can be combined, the better the insight and conclusions that can be drawn. However, with growing volumes of longitudinal data from connected devices, the challenge becomes making timely sense of all that data, especially for physicians and other clinicians, who are already overwhelmed by information and demands on their time"
Interoperability is when multiple devices, databases and programmes are able to interact across organizational and systemic boundaries. This allows different technologies and resources to communicate, interact, and react according to information received, without human intervention being necessary.
With Connected Health, longstanding issues of healthcare IT interoperability and integration are exacerbated. Hospitals now face the prospect of more sensors, devices, gateways, controllers, routers and databases—all with their own protocols.
Ultimately, Connected Healthcare could transform the Healthcare industry, massively reduce costs, and eliminate risk of standard human errors. However, as seen, the move to Connected Care isn't the easiest. You can read more about addressing the above challenges in the white paper, 'Connected Care', below.
The Path to Better, More Integrated Care and Health Outcomes
Connected Health is helping to define the future of care through the convergence of technology, healthcare, research and public policy—and the time to get in on it is now.