Are healthcare workers prepared for the digital health era?
The Digital Health Era
The past decade has seen technology revolutionize the healthcare industry and digital tools are making treatments more accessible for people across the world. This digital disruption is creating increased efficiencies for healthcare providers and introducing technologies such as telehealth, smart hospitals and Artificial Intelligence (AI) that have the potential to improve patient outcomes on a global scale. The future of healthcare is arguably dependent on digital health, but also a skilled workforce to implement and administer such technologies successfully.
Big Data and The Human Genome Project
As much as 30% of the worlds stored data is generated by the healthcare industry, and the power of the correct analysis of this data is untold. McKinsey has estimated that big data could save between $300 to $450 billion annually in reduced healthcare costs alone. Dr. John Smithson, Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head of Nursing and Midwifery at James Cook University says “Going back 10 or 20 years, a lot of data was collected on paper and never saw the digital environment. But so much of our data now is being collected digitally, so that means we’ve got vast amounts of patient data available to us”. But, what can be done with this data?
More than 1.2 billion clinical documents are generated in the US each year, and big data has the potential to deliver not only sizeable cost and efficiency savings but also lifesaving decisions. A revolutionary project known as The Human Genome Project was designed to provide researchers with the necessary tools to understand the genetic factors in human disease for diagnosis, prevention and treatment. To date, this project has aided the discovery of over 1,800 disease genes, and now through the use of big data and research centers such as Cambridge Big Data, it’s possible to sequence a human genome in a matter of days compared to the years it took previously.
AI and Robotics in Healthcare
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), we are entering a modern era of health known as ‘New Health’ and AI and robotics will be the future of healthcare. The question remains, how willing are people to adopt AI technologies such as robot-assisted surgery and virtual nurses? In a study that surveyed over 12,000 people from 12 different countries, PwC found that 54% of participants were willing and 38% were unwilling to engage with AI for their healthcare needs. Culture clearly plays a role, as interestingly in Nigeria, Turkey and South Africa up to 94% of participants were willing to trust AI and robotic technologies. This would suggest that although the majority of participants are ready to adopt these technologies, they may need to be introduced in a culturally specific way.
With the average life expectancy consistently on the rise and modern technologies treating more diseases than ever before, it’s clear that the future of healthcare lies in digital technology. At the same time, as with digital disruption in any industry, there needs to be a rapid education for the healthcare workers implementing these new technologies and the consumers treated by them. The Master of Nursing at James Cook University is delivered 100% online and is designed for registered nurses looking to embrace leadership or educational practice roles in a hospital environment. This innovative degree is fully flexible allowing nurses to study around busy schedules and shift work.