Bridging the technology gap in healthcare

How modernization can address health and safety issues for patients and workers

Bridging the technology gap in healthcare

Bridging the Technology Gap in Canadian Healthcare: An Urgent Call for Modernization

"Our research shows that outdated technology is a significant barrier to efficient healthcare," states Mikhail Ishkhanov, senior director of product strategy at SOTI, a technology company focused on mobility solutions.

 This assertion is backed by the latest research from SOTI’s report, Code Digital: Will Healthcare Thrive or Survive?, which sheds light on the pressing technological gaps plaguing the Canadian healthcare system.

SOTI’s study surveyed 1,450 healthcare IT decision-makers globally, with 150 respondents from Canada. Conducted between March 7 and March 25, 2024, the study encompassed roles from hospitals, general medical practices, clinics, and organizations providing telehealth services. The findings underscore a critical need for technological advancement in healthcare to enhance patient outcomes and operational efficiency.

Pressing need for upgrades

The persistence of outdated technology in Canadian healthcare facilities is staggering. According to the study, 96% of Canadian healthcare IT decision-makers believe their organizations need to invest in better technology. "Canadian healthcare professionals are often left struggling with inefficient systems that slow down their work and compromise patient safety," Ishkhanov explains. This inefficiency is evident, with 99% of healthcare staff losing an average of 3.9 hours per week due to technical difficulties—a slight increase from 3.4 hours in 2023.

The impact of these technological shortcomings is profound, leading to extended patient care times and hindering the ability to share and access patient records efficiently. "When we look at legacy technology, it could be really outdated mobile handheld devices that come up with issues throughout the day," Ishkhanov notes, emphasizing the need for modern, reliable technology to support healthcare workers.

Addressing violence and fatigue through technology

One of the significant challenges in healthcare is the issue of violence against nurses. Ishkhanov suggests that technological advancements, particularly in training, can play a pivotal role. "In other industries, AR technology has been used to simulate real-life situations, helping employees better respond to difficult scenarios. This could be invaluable for training nurses on how to handle violent situations," he says.

Fatigue among healthcare workers, especially nurses, is another pressing concern. Long shifts and extensive overtime contribute to severe burnout. "The largest impact on this is through driving workflow automation and process optimization," Ishkhanov asserts. By digitizing administrative tasks and leveraging mobile technology, healthcare workers can significantly reduce the time spent on paperwork. Ishkhanov shares an example: "An organization in Ontario provided nurses with tablets to enter patient notes in real-time, drastically cutting down the hours spent on manual paperwork and allowing them to focus more on patient care."

Telehealth: Potential unleashed through modernization

Telehealth has emerged as a critical component of modern healthcare, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, legacy IT issues prevent 26% of Canadian healthcare organizations from supporting devices remotely, limiting the full potential of telehealth services. "AI and machine learning can improve the link in telehealth between patients and physicians, automating updates to patient records with greater accuracy," Ishkhanov highlights.

Despite the promising future of AI in healthcare, there are concerns regarding patient privacy. The study reveals that 71% of Canadian healthcare IT decision-makers see AI as a threat to patient privacy. "It's evident that there is a need for technological roadmaps and more effective strategies to fully leverage AI while ensuring patient data security," adds Shash Anand, senior vice president of product strategy at SOTI.

Data security concerns

Data security remains a paramount concern in the healthcare sector, with 31% of IT decision-makers citing it as their primary worry, up from 23% in 2023. The frequency of external data breaches has also increased significantly. Ishkhanov connects these security issues to outdated technology: "45% of Canadian IT decision-makers link the rising vulnerability of cyberattacks to legacy IT systems. Healthcare providers must prioritize upgrading their technology to protect sensitive patient data."

As the healthcare industry grapples with these challenges, it is imperative that decision-makers prioritize technological advancements to bridge the current gaps. By doing so, they will not only enhance patient care but also address critical issues such as staff safety and fatigue, paving the way for a more efficient and secure healthcare system.