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Why has technology been slow to fix the open wounds of the medical industry?

The adoption of modern technologies has always been a hotly debated topic amongst industry leaders when they're first introduced to the wider market. Tradition and history are common sticking points in delaying the technologies' ability to disrupt and change workflow processes. Numerous misconceptions on the role technology plays within businesses, and fears surrounding change itself, have also played a significant part in the historically slow adoption of technology. Industries like the construction industry and agricultural industry are common examples of this for a couple of reasons. One being the lack of technological ability and willingness to use it from ground-level workers, and the second being software incapable of solving problems. The medical industry, however, has been one of the last to adopt technology into practice.

In an industry where decisions require copious amounts of information and high precision, there’s been a significant delay in turning to technology as a solution from a process standpoint. There has always been a focus on having the latest technological devices, but there’s been less of an emphasis on introducing technology to improve patient experiences. This has developed situations where patients are required to navigate lengthy waiting periods for drug approvals, and in some cases, just to even be seen by a practitioner. It’s also been well documented that there is now an overwhelming lack of resources available too. The New Zealand health-care sector alone has stated they require just under $2 billion in funding to continue functioning; an issue that has only been exacerbated by COVID-19.

So why has there previously been a lack of focus on using technology to improve patient experiences and employee workflows?

Aside from the common issue that concerns the lack of resources available, one of the more common issues has been the risk-averse mindset of many within the medical industry. And it’s hard to find fault with this cautious approach when people’s lives are quite literally at stake. But this has led to ongoing long-term problems like long-waiting times for referrals and lengthy processes. This has negatively impacted an industry that is focused on customer experiences, especially with the emergence of mobile technology and changing demands of those who hold them. The digital age has heightened desires for access to information, not only inside the practice, but outside it too.

The traditional face-to-face nature of the medical industry has also been one of the reasons why implementation of technology has been slow. Despite the emergence of wearable technology, there's been a slow uptake in its use. One of the reasons behind this has been the impersonal nature of technology. Previous views have always seen healthcare as a highly personalised, high-touch industry that requires plenty of interaction between patient and practitioner. Now the importance of convenience has come to the forefront and challenged the status quo given complications caused by COVID-19.

Whilst the adoption of technology may have been slow, it hasn't been due to limitations of the technology itself. Rather, the hesitation from those involved in the implementation has caused delays to occur. In an industry steeped with traditions, it seems to have quashed the disruptive nature of technology. However, now that COVID has proved to be a significant catalyst for change, these previously risk-adverse mentalities are being challenged and extracted from the minds of key decision makers. Now all that's left is to embrace the inevitable change and create the new normal that's become increasingly talked about. One that will become increasingly digital rather quickly.

Published Date:

February 4, 2022

Read Time:

3 minutes


Team Tidy