NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Why Is Health Care Slow to Adopt Technology?

September 19, 2014

Many technology enthusiasts have grown frustrated with the health care sector's slow adoption of new technology. Why has the health care industry not embraced many of the new tools made available by the modern era? 

Robert Pearl at Forbes writes that there are multiple explanations for the slow uptake, including: 

  • Many new technologies are impressive, but they do not necessarily solve health problems. For example, wearable goods -- like wristbands and other sensors -- can track and send all sorts of health data. However, does wearing the device improve a patient's health? According to Pearl, there is little evidence that they do.
  • Many new technologies might actually lower costs. That sounds great, except that doctors and hospitals are paid based on the fee-for-service model, meaning that technologies that reduce costs or the number of patient visits actually cost them money, disincentivizing their use.
  • Paper records remain easier and faster for many doctors; it takes the typical doctor much longer to enter patient data into an Electronic Health Record (EHR) than to write it on paper. EHRs can take a while to fill out, because they prevent doctors from skipping steps or leaving questions blank.

According to Pearl, entrepreneurs should focus on using the technology that already exists, such as smartphones, to improve medical care.

Source: Robert Pearl, "5 Things Preventing Technology Adoption In Health Care," Forbes.com, September 11, 2014.

 

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