Healthcare professionals back technology to solve sector challenges

Healthcare professionals back technology to solve sector challenges

Seventy-six per cent of respondents believe virtual healthcare in the home will be a realistic scenario in the future

More than 70 per cent of Australian healthcare professionals believe that technology can help overcome some of the challenges facing the sector.

That's according to new survey, examining the greatest opportunities and challenges impacting the future of healthcare in 2025.

The study was based on feedback from 211 Australian healthcare professionals between October 2014 and March 2015.

For Australia, responses were distributed across most sectors with a strong response particularly from the nursing, clinical, patient services and healthcare IT sectors.

The study was part of a global survey of more than 1,200 healthcare professionals.

It found that increased accessibility to broadband, mobility devices and applications were among the most notable trends that respondents believe will make primary care accessible to all citizens, regardless of distance, by 2025.

Technology is also expected to alleviate the shortage of healthcare practitioners, which continues to be an issue for the industry globally.

More than 70 per cent of Australian healthcare practitioners surveyed are confident that technology will facilitate greater access to practitioners in 2025.

The industry can also expect to see increased investment in home care.

Seventy-six per cent of respondents believe virtual healthcare in the home, supported by technology adoption, will be a realistic scenario in the future.

Polycom Healthcare, global director, Ron Emerson, said government policy and funding needed to keep pace with meeting the changing needs of the Australian healthcare sector and technology advancements.

"It’s abundantly clear that the industry needs to transform and evolve, so we are better positioned to deliver the types of healthcare services needed to provide improved patient outcomes,” he said.

“Whilst historically there has been trepidation when it comes to embracing change and new service models, it is clear there is an overwhelming appetite from Australian practitioners to explore new ways of working.

"The adoption of technology solutions such as video for example, is just one way we can bring healthcare specialists virtually to remote parts of the country, where patients would not normally benefit from such consultations without travelling.”

Survey respondents also noted that telemedicine and telehealth would be the greatest areas of investment by healthcare organisations in 2025, followed closely by virtual healthcare delivery and effective care coordination.

Personal connectivity is earmarked to change the way health services are delivered, with most respondents (80 per cent) believing the use of devices such as personal health monitors will likely change the delivery of health services.

Advancement in technologies such as video collaboration will also enable greater adoption of in-home virtual consultations, support the reduction of in hospital readmissions and increase the number of virtual appointments for remote patients.

Emerson said, given Australia’s geographically dispersed population, it had the opportunity to lead the way in showing how innovative healthcare services like in-home healthcare and virtual consultation services, could help alleviate the challenges facing the sector.

“There is no doubt that incorporating technology like video into the delivery of healthcare services, will be critical to creating a positive healthcare future not only in Australia, but globally,” he said.

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