The Future Health Index, which examines the readiness of health systems across five continents to meet future healthcare challenges, clearly reveals that the largest perception/reality gap globally (with an average of 31.5 points) is centered on health systems integration. Connected technology and data sharing enable an integrated network of care providers and patients working closely together for improved decision support to better manage health. However, the new study shows healthcare professionals and the public polled tend to perceive systems to be better integrated than they actually are in practice.
The international study uncovered that some of the biggest barriers standing in the way of a truly integrated, seamless and connected health experience are centered on the technology itself.
Despite these barriers, the potential for global health systems to benefit from better integration remains a positive possibility. Almost one-third (30%) of healthcare professionals polled believe accessible, secure information sharing platforms between healthcare professionals will have the most positive impact on citizens taking care of their health. 42% of them say they would be more likely to use connected care technology if they could see proof that it would make processes more efficient.
Both healthcare professionals and the general population polled saw potential for connected care technology to bring improvements across the healthcare continuum; particularly in diagnosis, home care and the management of chronic diseases. Among the general population and healthcare professionals, connected care technology is most often seen as important for improving elderly healthcare services/services for geriatric care (78% and 82%), treatment of medical issues (77% and 81%), diagnosis of medical conditions (76% and 77%) and home care services (74% and 81%).
“Most countries are not prepared to deal with the impending growth of their over-70s populations let alone the rise we are seeing in diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases in younger populations. The costs of these trends will become unmanageable,” said Patricia Mechael, Principal and Policy Lead at HealthEnabled, Executive Vice President at the Personal Connected Health Alliance, HIMSS and a member of the Future Health Index advisory panel. “If shifting the mindset from reactive to proactive care can keep just one pre-diabetic from becoming diabetic, it’s a huge benefit to the individual and their family, and to the health system and its stretched resources.”
Although healthcare professionals are concerned with the quality and accuracy of data from connected care devices, 22% of healthcare professionals polled say they would be more likely to use connected care technology if there were case studies of its use and success. 19% would be more likely to use this technology if there were randomized control trials of its use and success.
The Future Health Index also shows consumers face barriers that could prevent them taking a more proactive role in their own health, or working more closely with the different professionals within their care team. Of the consumers polled who have used connected care technology in the past 12 months, 23% say they do not understand how to interpret the results from the technology. 24% of the general population polled say they feel no ownership at all over their medical record.
The Future Health Index also unearthed an international consensus that the empowerment of patients and healthcare professionals, along with significant attention and funding for preventive care, could hold the key to sustainable health care delivery. 59% of healthcare professionals polled think the majority of their time should be spent in preventive care, keeping the healthy well.
“How we provide healthcare is rapidly changing,” said Brian Donley, M.D., Chief of Staff at Cleveland Clinic. “It’s the healthcare team’s responsibility to be innovative and advocate for their patients and communities in new ways. This includes continuing to look for creative solutions to provide patients seamless access to care and information sharing – whether that’s in a doctor’s office, retail clinic or from their home. Physicians must not only utilize the power of technology to connect with their patients, but should be encouraging all patients to take a more active role in managing their care, especially those living with chronic conditions. Healthcare is a team sport that needs both the medical team and the patient’s participation to produce positive outcomes.”
To download the Future Health Index 2017 report in its entirety, please click on this link. For additional Future Health Index related content, please visit: www.futurehealthindex.com.