Posted on August 23, 2018 in - Digital Health, – Health, Best Practices

Are Clinicians Ready for Digital Health Technology?

Are Clinicians Ready for Digital Health Technology?

With the plethora of new technologies and sophisticated channels, the opportunities for using digital in healthcare are immense. There is now a strong focus on implementing new innovative digital health solutions to empower clinicians to deliver better patient care.

Driven by the growth of digital health technology, clinicians are starting to rethink how they operate in an increasingly digital world… but are clinicians ready for digital health?

According to an Ernst & Young survey, patients and physicians are both ready for increased digital engagement. In fact, there is a widespread agreement among physicians that digital technologies and data sharing will contribute to the overall well-being of the population, with already 70% of physicians positive about the effectiveness of current technologies in use. Furthermore, 66% of physicians indicate that an increase in digital technologies would reduce the burden on the health care system and its associated costs, and 64% believe it would help reduce the burden on doctors and nurses.

What we see from these results is that consumers and physicians are ready for increased digital interaction – Rachel Hall, Ernst & Young

As clinicians have become digital consumers in their everyday lives, they are also changing the way they consume medical information in their professional lives, with more and more embracing the convenience of digital channels to provide information on demand. McKinsey research has shown that the current medical information world is fragmented and that clinicians prefer to have a single source of information, which is easily accessible and readily available.

According to McKinsey, physicians globally spend at least 1.5 hours online per day conducting research, with at least half of that on social media for professional purposes. Approximately 61% of those using social media consider it an equally or more effective way to obtain answers compared to digital journals or publications. It is therefore unsurprising that clinician use of digital tools for research and collaboration will continue to grow, with 9 out of 10 physicians believing their time spent on digital for professional purposes will increase in the next year.

Related Digital Habits of Healthcare Professionals

Enthusiasm vs. Adoption

Despite the continuing discussion of how digital can transform healthcare, adoption with clinicians has been slow. According to an AMA survey, physicians are attracted to digital health tools they believe will improve current practices and patient care. However, the level of enthusiasm currently exceeds adoption rates.

Doctors use digital as part of their daily lives, yet healthcare related digital platforms have tended to fall flat in the eyes of physicians  McKinsey

The rate of adoption is reflected in the fact that clinicians are dissatisfied with the current state of affairs. The factors driving this dissatisfaction with digital health technology include the lack of personalised and relevant content along with inappropriate communication channels and platforms. McKinsey research found that two-thirds of medical professionals complain they are bombarded with generic digital content and seek a more personalised, tailored, and user-friendly solution. Eventually, clinicians will need to increase their adoption of digital health tools as the industry advances towards a more empowered value-based model of healthcare. Those who engage with digital tools will be better equipped to deliver high-quality, consistent and cost-effective care.

It is extremely important that clinicians are on board with any digital initiative as they play a significant role in the complex mechanisms of healthcare delivery. Keep in mind, there are different agendas and priorities to consider when developing digital health solutions. Clinicians and solution providers need to work towards a shared purpose; to deliver higher quality care. An objective like this has more value and will resonate with clinicians over goals to increase efficiencies and reduce costs. As such, it is imperative that improving patient care is at the core of any digital solution for adoption to be successful.

Planning for Digital Success

There is a significant opportunity to develop innovative solutions that integrate workflows and deliver the right digital content through the right channels. However, clinicians, like patients, must be central in all digital health initiatives. To help with your digital success, consider the following points:

#1 Start with the end user

For success, every digital design has to start with the end user. When health systems consider and engage the end user of the digital solution as the “customer”, adoption levels are often higher. Therefore, a clinician-oriented digital health solution should fully embrace the clinician, and all other important stakeholders, from the outset. Leaving end-users out of the development process can result in unanticipated problems, unintuitive design, frustrating workflows and unnecessary costs.

A deep understanding of the end user will allow you to uncover valuable insights crucial to your strategy. These insights can only be revealed through deep immersion in the stakeholder experience. It is important to collaborate with clinicians in order to truly understand the issues they face and leverage this to co-design effective solutions that contribute towards more efficient healthcare. Here you can identify unmet needs and opportunities to offer clinicians value.

Develop a granular understanding of how your target end-users spend their day; for example when, how and through which channels do they consume information and communicate. Engage clinicians during the development process in order to identify the problems to be solved and collaborate during the testing and reiteration of your solution. Once your digital strategy is implemented, continual refinement of the solution should be managed collaboratively by clinicians and the development team to ensure that the technology is successfully embraced and effectively utilised.

It is important to keep in mind that clinicians might have a difficult time articulating ideas to developers, and vice versa. It can be for this reason that they are counted out of the app development process. Therefore, an experienced intermediary may be required to help close the gap between developers and clinicians.

#2 Create a comprehensive strategy

Armed with a deep understanding of your target users, it is important to develop a comprehensive, integrated and successful digital strategy. Clarify strategic goals that will help you deliver a superior user experience that effectively engages clinicians and achieves widespread adoption. When developing your digital strategy, consider the following:

  • How can your new technology improve the patient experience?
  • Can repetitive tasks be automated?
  • How can your solution integrate with existing workflows?
  • Will your new system offer better interoperability?

If clinicians are disengaged with or don’t embrace your digital initiatives then this could lead to project failure. McKinsey research highlighted that clinicians feel overwhelmed and ill-equipped to implement change as a potential barrier to digital strategy success. Therefore, it is important to put in place the necessary resources for solution roll-out, training and adoption. Try to encourage clinician buy-in and advocacy through:

  • Highlighting your shared purpose – there may be some mistrust that needs to be overcome before the organisation can embrace new digital initiatives.
  • Partnering with clinicians – include them as much as possible in the decision making, design and implementation process.
  • Identifying early adopters – promotion from early adopters and clinical leaders is extremely valuable for your strategy.

#3 Deliver personalised quality content

Digital health solutions need to deliver consistent value to clinicians, in the form of convenient, interactive and credible content. Content should clearly be high quality and useful in order to drive trust and successful adoption.

Content must be the cornerstone of every digital strategy with digital channels being the enabling tool McKinsey

It is imperative that content is tailored to the end users needs in order to deliver the right content at the right time based on a clinicians profile, patterns and usage. Personalising communications to different audience segments is key to effective engagement and for empowering the end user to deliver high-quality care.

#4 Measure and monitor success

It is important to know if your technology and engagement strategy is successful. Leveraging and monitoring in-built analytics is the best way to measure this. Generating user insights on how clinicians engage with your digital platform and content will allow you to uncover any patterns and preferences, allowing you to make adjustments to your strategy based on this. This provides you with the opportunity to adapt your digital strategy in real time based on valuable insights gained from user metrics.

Identify a range of metrics to monitor that will help you to determine whether your solution is successful and how to optimise your digital engagement strategy. Remember to gather clinician feedback on the use of your technology in their daily workflows and across the organisation. This clinician input, coupled with insights from analytics, will help you to refine your strategy as well as the design and interface of your solution – enhancing usability, engagement and adoption.

The Power of Apps

The adoption of mobile apps by healthcare professionals provides an opportunity to improve clinical communication and access to information systems and tools at the point of care. This accessibility of real-time and relevant clinical information at the point of care is crucial for delivering high-quality care. According to Codyre, medical professionals have found mobile technology to enhance their decision-making process and reduce medical errors.

It is important to build digital health tools that are designed for mobility, decrease documentation time, and integrate to enable seamless communication between systems. According to Mosa et al., drug reference apps, references for disease diagnosis, medical calculator, and digital medical textbook apps were reported as the most useful health apps by clinicians and medical students. Here are a few examples of clinician apps:

Related Why Healthcare Needs Digital Health Apps

Drug Reference

Drug reference apps generally include the names of drugs, their indications, dosages, pharmacology, drug-drug interactions, contraindications, cost, and identifying characteristics. These apps can be useful and readily available evidence-based resources at the point of care, for example, during hospital rounds.

Disease Diagnosis

Disease diagnosis apps are designed to access diagnosis and treatment information conveniently in just a few taps on a mobile device. This clinical software available in mobile format helps clinicians to accurately examine and diagnose patients.

Digital versions of print medical references for disease diagnosis can be readily available with a search toolbar on any device to help improve the efficiency of diagnosis. These apps can also help clinicians identify appropriate laboratory tests based on symptoms, decreasing the number of unnecessary tests and reducing the cost of care.

Medical Calculators

A medical or clinical calculator app can be used to calculate various clinical scores and indices such as body mass index, body surface area, coronary heart disease risk, and individual drug dosing etc. These processes would usually involve complex formulas using several input parameters. As such, a mobile app offers a convenient and efficient way to calculate a clinical score or index.

Clinical Communication

Mobile apps can be used to simplify communication among clinicians within a healthcare setting. This includes voice calling, video conferencing, text messaging and email messaging. The use of this type of app in a clinical care environment facilitates the quick communication of important information and can help reduce the risk of medical errors.

Hospital Information Systems

Mobile apps for Hospital Information Systems, such as electronic health records, electronic medical records, and picture archiving and communication systems provide the flexibility of accessing patient information securely from anywhere at any time. This also includes apps for administrative tasks such as the management of patient information, medication prescribing and billing.

Medical Information & Education

Where medical manuals once required reams of paper they can now be digitised in mobile apps, giving clinicians instant access to the information they need. Medical professionals in training can also harness the power of these apps to improve their learning.  

The mobility of an app can provide students with convenient access to a plethora of clinical resources. Digital versions of medical books, journals, interactive anatomy tools, medical calculators, medical references, and drug references on a mobile app provide flexible learning opportunities for students. For example, a mobile app for trainee doctors can provide a wealth of information at the point of care when attending physicians are not available, thus enhancing patient care.

Related 4 Digital Health App Trends to Consider for 2018

Clinicians want to play an active role in the digital innovation that will continue to transform healthcare. For digital health to reach wider adoption and penetration, technologies need to be designed and developed with the clinician in mind and trust needs to be fostered. When you provide the opportunity for a clinician to identify the problem and participate in the building of the solution and its continual refinement, then successful adoption is inevitable.

Digital health technology can significantly benefit and enhance how we deliver care. These solutions help drive clinical efficiency, quality care, patient satisfaction and improved clinical outcomes. To find out what Liquid State can do for your healthcare organisation, get in touch with us today.