New technologies are emerging at an increasingly fast pace. And many of these technologies are making their way into the healthcare system. But we are faced with a gap between the capabilities those technologies provide and our ability to use them effectively day to day.
Recent research by IBM points to four trends for which a skills gap exists: business analytics, cloud computing, mobile computing and social business. The results from the IBM study Fast Track to the Future: The 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report are telling: Only one out of 10 of the organizations surveyed say they have the skills needed to address these emerging technologies. Sixty percent of business decision makers feel there’s a significant skills gap.
In the healthcare industry two important questions remain unanswered: (1) are we properly empowering our healthcare providers to make the best use of these technologies (2) are we designing technologies in a way that makes them intuitive enough that long training periods are not required.
On both questions the answer appears to be no. There is a lot of work that remains to be done.
Information is the lifeblood of the new healthcare system, a healthcare system that is shifting rapidly from fee-for-service (FFS) medicine where doing more paid handsomely, to a system that is focused on coordination and patient engagement. And in this new emerging healthcare system information is critical.
Three approaches can be taken to address these challenges. First, training in the use of information technology and the ability to analyze and parse through mountains of data needs to be integrated into the curricula of medical schools and nursing schools. Second, healthcare delivery systems and ACOs need to proactively empower their staff to make use of these technologies. And third, the design of technologies should improve to the point where little to no training is required to use them. This puts a greater burden on companies developing these solutions to make them easy to use but that burden is well placed.
While this transition period will be tough, what remains on the other side is what every healthcare provider is waiting for: less time in administration and paperwork and more time focusing on medicine and patient care.