LONDON--(a study sponsored by Ricoh1 shows that 92.5 per cent of healthcare, biotech and pharmaceutical executives have become more reliant on technology during the last three years. The majority of healthcare executives (70 per cent) agree it has made their employees more creative in terms of developing new healthcare services, medicines and products. However, it is clear that key challenges remain in integrating technology to improve patient care, service and administration. More than one third of respondents, (35 per cent) said that a computer error had cost their organisation money on at least one occasion in the last six months. The research titled ‘Humans and Machines’ was conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and highlights the increasingly critical role that technology is playing in the healthcare sector.)--New data from
“By focusing on process optimisation, healthcare professionals can benefit from increased agility which means fewer headaches when adopting new technologies and ways of working. Most importantly they can focus on what they really care about – finding new innovations in patient care and continually improving healthcare delivery”
“As telehealth grows across all healthcare disciplines, the need to accelerate its integration and transform traditional processes has never been more important,” says Carsten Bruhn, Executive Vice President, Ricoh Europe. “The digital economy is believed to be growing at seven times the rate of the rest of the economy2, so the pace of technology-led change is unlikely to slow down anytime soon. Technology will continue to be a key driver in healthcare and will inspire new business models that will change the way healthcare professionals communicate with patients and deliver services in the future.”
However, the technology-led changes are unlikely to mean that robots and computers will replace humans to manage patient care in the future. The healthcare, biotech and pharmaceutical respondents specified diagnosis of patient conditions (36 per cent) and the development of new treatments and medicines (32 per cent) as the two most critical areas for human intuition to prevail. In contrast, only 5 per cent said that healthcare professionals should be spending time managing patient records, and just 8 per cent said their time should be spent improving administration processes.
But they are united in agreeing that there is further scope for technology to deliver efficiency gains with 65 per cent saying that more can be done. The top challenge the healthcare sector faces when dealing with technology is that it is evolving more quickly than the internal processes that support it. This is compounded by the fact that often, different systems across the organisation are not connected to each other, as cited by 38 per cent of healthcare executives. And while there is a widely recognised need for process-driven improvements within the healthcare industry, the majority of executives surveyed (78 per cent) acknowledge that technology in isolation delivers little or no value.
“The human touch is essential for patient care, but it is also necessary to create innovative processes that convert technology investment into benefits. For example, by integrating information management systems in a hospital, a doctor can access patient records more easily, get instant access to test results and send prescriptions directly to pharmacists, making healthcare delivery faster and more efficient,” says Bruhn. “Technology alone cannot deliver such measureable impacts on healthcare services. It is the human intuition and expertise that makes it work and meet the needs of the healthcare sector.”
“Successful automation of critical processes such as patient records require more than just investing in digital tools. Innovative processes will ensure critical information is captured, integrated within the organisation and can be easily accessed 24 hours a day. In addition, automated processes will support the standardisation of documentation, enhance information sharing, reduce administration costs and improve patient confidentiality,” says Bruhn.
Best case examples of what can be achieved through automation are cited in the European Commission e-health action plan3. In Denmark savings of $120 million a year were achieved and doctors are saving on average 50 minutes per day usually spent on administrative work. In Italy, overall savings from the introduction of information and communications technology in the Health Sector are estimated to be around 11.7 per cent of national health expenditure (i.e. €12.4 billion). Savings from digital prescriptions alone are estimated to be around €2 billion.
“By focusing on process optimisation, healthcare professionals can benefit from increased agility which means fewer headaches when adopting new technologies and ways of working. Most importantly they can focus on what they really care about – finding new innovations in patient care and continually improving healthcare delivery,” concludes Bruhn.
Download the healthcare insight at http://thoughtleadership.ricoh-europe.com/eu/humans-and-machines/
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Ricoh is a global technology company specialising in office imaging equipment, production print solutions, document management systems and IT services. Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group operates in more than 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ending March 2012, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 1,903 billion yen (approx. 23 billion USD).
The majority of the company's revenue comes from products, solutions and services that improve the interaction between people and information. Ricoh also produces award-winning digital cameras and specialised industrial products. It is known for the quality of its technology, the exceptional standard of its customer service and sustainability initiatives.
Under its corporate tagline, imagine. change. Ricoh helps companies transform the way they work and harness the collective imagination of their employees.
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About the Research
The analysis in this article, and the larger white paper of which it is part, is based on a two-pronged research effort conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The first is a survey of 432 senior executives (including 40 from healthcare, biotechnology and pharmaceutical organisations), conducted in November and December 2012, exploring their views on the interplay between technology and human imagination in their organisations. The sample is global, with roughly equal numbers emanating from Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific. All respondents are at a senior level: 50% hold C-suite or board positions. They hail from over 20 different industries; aside from financial services, other industries strongly represented include education, government/public sector (including healthcare), manufacturing and technology. Just over half of the firms in the survey (53%) have annual revenue in excess of US$500m, with nearly one in five having US$10bn or more. Complementing the survey was a series of 20 in-depth interviews conducted with prominent business and technology thinkers as well senior corporate executives across different sectors.