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SOTI research explores professional's thoughts on digitisation in the healthcare sector

New global research from SOTI titled, A Critical Investment: Taking the Pulse of Technology in Healthcare, has revealed that nearly all Australian healthcare providers (96%) that offer frontline services have implemented IoT/telehealth medical device capabilities.

As part of the research, SOTI surveyed 1,300 healthcare IT professionals across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, UK, Germany, Sweden, France and Australia to understand how their organisations pivoted to provide patient care throughout the pandemic, the role technology played in delivering positive patient outcomes and what major obstacles remain.

The report found that increased adoption of new technologies in the healthcare sector is evident in 82% of Australian IT healthcare professionals, indicating they have significantly increased their annual technology spend since 2020.

Interconnectivity, automation and data management were the three key trends highlighted in the report as integral parts of successful medical technology implementation.

83% of local IT healthcare professionals agreed that patient services benefit from heightened interconnectivity, and 82% said using artificial intelligence (AI) in patient care enables medical staff to treat more patients. 99% also stated that they felt digital patient recordkeeping increases efficiency and enhances data sharing.

"Mobile and IoT devices helped healthcare organisations quickly adapt various models of patient care and improve health outcomes during the pandemic. Investments in IoT/telehealth medical device capabilities and technical infrastructure in healthcare are becoming vital in meeting critical care requirements," says SOTI VP of product strategy Shash Anand.

"Although the scale of device implementation across the entire medical sector is a strong indicator of digital maturity, improving outcomes in remote health monitoring and digital recordkeeping are ongoing areas of focus. Today, 63% of healthcare providers use remote patient monitoring wearable technologies, and a further 62% of clinics providing frontline patient services have 100% digital recordkeeping," he says.

It was also revealed that IT healthcare professionals are worried about patient information and data security. Since 2020, 44% of Australian healthcare organisations have experienced a data breach from an outside source (such as a DDoS attack), and a further 47% experienced a data leak from an employee (be that planned or accidental).

The most common data security issues that professionals were concerned about were patient information being lost (40%), patient information being revealed without patient consent (38%), and patient records being stolen in a cyberattack or hacking (36%).

In addition, 67% of local IT professionals believed patient data security was more at risk now than ever before, while 51% agreed their organisation was not spending enough money on patient data security.

SOTI VP of sales APAC Michael Dyson says it's crucial that healthcare providers have access to the right technology to correctly meet patients' needs and ensure their privacy and security.

"Healthcare organisations have a duty of care to patients, which extends to keeping their private and sensitive data safe and secure," he says.

"With data leaks and digital security breaches becoming all too common, healthcare providers must adopt device management solutions which go beyond protecting a server and include all ranges of mobile devices used by healthcare workers or any medical equipment linked to digital apps.

"With the ability to be managed remotely, today's advanced mobile solutions can lockdown missing or compromised devices remotely and create user personas with different levels of security access. This means the same device can be used by different healthcare workers on different shifts, giving them access to the specific levels of information they need for their role, without creating any unnecessary security risks."

 SOTI says that a move towards digitisation and eliminating outdated manual and paper processes helps significantly reduce the burden of administrative tasks that distract from caregiving responsibilities. But issues can arise when technologies are not properly implemented or maintained, and costly downtime can hinder a healthcare worker's ability to provide critical care.

60% of healthcare IT professionals surveyed said their organisation experiences downtime with IoT/telehealth medical devices, leading to patient care delays. Overall, 92% of healthcare IT professionals have experienced an issue of some kind, with 58% citing systems not integrating effectively and 52% noting frequent technical issues. In Australia, this leads to each healthcare employee losing approximately 3.6 hours per week on average due to technical or system difficulties.

"The digitisation of healthcare processes and patient care services is globally accelerating across the healthcare industry because it makes employees' lives easier while making data more secure and accessible. However, to improve the level of day-to-day treatment and avoid patient care delays due to device downtime, healthcare IT professionals must ensure they have an advanced diagnostic intelligence solution in place to provide device support remotely and performance visibility across all devices," concluded Anand.

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