Table of Contents
An overview of Alfred Health organisation and the scope of its healthcare activities
The various stakeholder groups and their perspectives on medical technology acquisition and utilisation
Perspectives from patients
Perspectives from employers
Perspectives form providers
The challenges presented in using medical technology
The learning curve
Meaningful use of compliance
The overarching challenge
The opportunities presented in using medical technology
Increased connectivity among physicians
Digitalization of health records
Remote health exams
Reduced risk and recovery time
Ethical responsibilities in relation to the use of medical technologies
Electronic health records and patient privacy
Healthcare industry’s financial incentives
Autonomy of patient
Identification of the different technologies which may be utilised in the near future
Alfred Health organization is one of the most prominent healthcare company based in Melbourne, Australia. Additionally, it is a leader in enhancement, education, and research determined to attain the finest possible health results for its patients and the public by assimilating medical practice with research and education. This organization is the key provider of health services to individuals residing in the interior southeast suburbs of Melbourne and also a key provider of professional state-wide amenities to the people residing in Victoria (Culture Victoria n.d.). The services range from ambulatory to inpatient, and family and public based amenities. Moreover, it delivers most of the medical treatment across three localities namely Sandringham hospital; Caulfield hospital; and the Alfred. Furthermore, treatment by Alfred health is available for children, adults, and elderly individuals.
Considering that different stakeholders in an organization perceive and cost of new technology acquisition and utilisation differently, it is important to understand the perceptive of key stakeholders.
The patient community in Alfred health is no monolithic and there is a broad range of patient and consumer perceptions of value. While the common perception of patients is that they believe newer treatment and more medical care is better, but patients’ views are more complex. In respect of the emergence of medical technology like health information technology (HIT), patients reported that they have legitimate concerns regarding security and privacy of their health information (Borsci, et al. 2018). They also have concerns regarding the use of their data in ways they do not understand. However, at the same time, patients were willing to accept such risks as they recognize the benefits of such technologies.
Patients also have suspicion over the hidden agenda of cost-cutting behind evidence-based medicine and suggested that it may limit the available options of treatment. Moreover, given the increasing cost of healthcare, patients are shifting from the “more is better” mindset to an emphasis on equity, value and access to care. In addition to this, patients also mentioned that there is the asymmetry of knowledge in a patient-provider relationship which makes them more vulnerable in the healthcare environment (Rosery and Schonfelder 2018).
Employers mentioned that the imperative of competitive labour costs and unrelenting market competition has driven them to an unprecedented level of engagement in cost control and healthcare transformation. This has resulted in an emphasis on accountability for value in healthcare delivery (Thienport, Quaglio, Karapiperis and Kjaersgaard-Andersen 2020). Also, the introduction of new technology creates a burden for administrators, medical staff and clinical engineers who are mainly responsible for the acquisition and assessment of new medical technology. Employers are suggested that the main element of value are cost which can be justified through improved patient functional and clinical outcomes, reduced cycle time and minimization of services re-work from improved coordination and access to care (Thomas 2018). Such factors have been demonstrated to reduce absenteeism, deliver better performance and increase workplace productivity.
For providers, the acquisition and utilisation of new healthcare technology mainly affect their practice in two aspects. First, providers are concerned that employers might overemphasize the reduction of cost rather than making sure that effective healthcare delivery is provided. Secondly, they also view the introduction of new technology as a threat to their incomes and current practice styles. Providers also reported that it neglects the importance of patient carer interactions and the involvement of the end-user in the healthcare delivery process. In addition to a lack of proper integration and standardization among health care systems was also demotivating for them (Peek, Wouters, Luijkx and Vrijhoef 2016). Doctors further mentioned that their involvement in the implementation of new technology is quite low and that ICT expertise is a significant issue for them. Besides, doctors also feared that new technologies, more often than not, act as a means of management control. In contrast to this, healthcare provides also acknowledged that the implementation of new technology can lead to improved communication and fewer prescription errors. However, in order to realize such benefits, it is important that proper IT support and training is given to doctors (Thomas 2018).
Even though all of the key stakeholders recognize the importance of utilizing new technology in healthcare delivery, this does not mean that such technology can be easily implemented in a given establishment. In terms of using medical technology, there are 3 key challenges related to the learning, cost and compliance.
One of the major challenges associated with the utilization of medical technology is that it requires ongoing education of healthcare administrators and medical professionals. This challenge is further exacerbated by the fact that these professionals also have to juggle busy schedules and do not always have time to learn about the latest technology (Gordon and Stern 2019). Also, considering that an improper understanding of new medical equipment can result in errors, which makes it crucial for the medical establishment to provide such training.
Uchegby, Sato, Allam, Buckle and Hanna (2018) mentioned that out of every trillion dollars spent on healthcare every year, around 5 and 6 per cent is used toward new technology. At a glance, this can seem trivial, but for healthcare establishments struggling with limited resources, this presents a significant challenge.
Implementation of new technology required changes in organizational policies to ensure that it complies with the legislation enacted for such technology. For instance, in order to use an electronic information system, a healthcare establishment would have to make meaningful use of electronic health records. Such changes within the organizational policies mean that healthcare practitioners, administrators and another person will also have to change their operations (Guimaraes and Ferreira 2020).
In the challenges already mentioned, hospital leaders, nowadays are so overwhelmed with addressing basic technological challenges like asset tracking and interoperability, that they do not have the resources to investigate new trends or other emerging tools which can help them to save money and time. This challenge was suggested by the director of Alfred health, who said that his team is busy doing either update, patches or HER implementations that he has no time to look for new technology.
In terms of opportunities presented in using medical technology, healthcare establishment can implement new technology for the following benefits:
Medical Technology with the help of digital platforms has redefined the social sphere and has made it easier for healthcare providers to connect with others in order to share information. This can significantly help in reducing the time needed to communicate with others and to post or investigate new findings (Bayon, Bohner, Eglin, Procter, Richards, Webers and Zeugolis 2016).
Modern technologies like electronic health records can be used to replace outdated paper records. This has already been a massive game-changer in the medical community. This not only allows patients to access their medical records easily but it also makes sure that mistakes are caught more quickly. Moreover, electronic data can also be analysed by data experts in order to reduce healthcare costs, predicting epidemics, avoiding preventable death, reducing healthcare waste and developing new treatments and drugs (Gordon and Stern 2019).
3D printing has great potential in medical science, for instance, it can help physicians to print synthetic implants, prosthetics and skin. They can also use it to create realistic models in order to practice procedures.
Medical technology can also help with remote health exams which can make healthcare more accessible in our society. For instance, the concept of health check chair includes an in the home chain which can read all basic vitals of patients and can transmit the data to the patient’s physicians. This will enable patients to get basic check-ups without leaving their home (Zaman, Hossain, Ahammed and Ahmed 2017).
Such technological advancements have improved the efficiency and safety of medical procedures. For example, advances in laser treatment have made medical procedures less invasive which pose few risks to the patients. This helps to reduce recovery time and makes the entire process less risky (Bayon, et al. 2016).
Ethics have always been an integral part of medicine; however technological advances have sometimes blurred the line between quality care and medical ethics. This makes it especially important to address the ethical considerations in medical technologies to reduce potential conflicts and improve professional medical practice.
Implementation of electronic health record systems are commonly recognized as a threat to privacy and confidently. For instance, both Google and Apple provide digital health record facilities which facilitate the collection of data in one place, but at the same time, it also makes it much easier for other to access the same (Naqvi 2019). This is an ethical responsibility of healthcare providers to ensure that the personal information of their patients is secure.
Healthcare providers believe that monetary incentives negatively impact the quality of care and erodes the core principles of the medical industry by monetizing healthcare. On the same note, the high cost of life-saving drugs is also immoral (Cheshire 2017).
Use of medical technology tends to limit the patient’s autonomy by micromanaging every aspect of healthcare delivery. It is the responsibility of healthcare providers to ensure that patients can guide the process even if it is not the best option (Pols 2017).
Here, justice refers to the distribution of healthcare burdens and benefits across society. Considering that medical technologies tend to be expensive; an ethical dilemma occurs regarding their access in society.
This ethical consideration deals with the fact that healthcare providers should ensure that they are not harming patients. This is especially important in the case of medical technology as the effect of new technology in a different environment is not always evident which makes it difficult for doctors to choose the most suitable option (Pols 2017).
Wearable technology can be used to improve patient care as such devices are able to convert biological reactions to electrical pulse in order to track the patient’s vitals. This can significantly improve healthcare delivery by providing digitised data accurately and more rapidly (Zaman, Hossain, Ahammed and Ahmed 2017). Moreover, specialized wearable gadgets can be used to measure diseases, to facilitate automated data gathering such as Google’s smart contact lenses which can measure glucose in diabetic individuals.
AR stands for Augmented reality which allows one to interact directly with data and facilitates better access to information. This can be incorporated into medical science from education to patient care. For instance, the Accuvein scanner is an AR system that can digitally display a map of view on the skin in real-time (Tarassoli 2019).
This technology is described as 3D printing in space as it involves projecting image light. Such technology can be used to provide a deeper insight into the health of a patient and to guide the way organs should be handled.
Bayon, Y., Bohner, M., Eglin, D., Procter, P., Richards, R.G., Weber, J. and Zeugolis, D.I. 2016. Innovating in the medical device industry–challenges & opportunities ESB 2015 translational research symposium. Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine, 27(9), p.144.
Borsci, S., Uchegbu, I., Buckle, P., Ni, Z., Walne, S. and Hanna, G.B. 2018. Designing medical technology for resilience: integrating health economics and human factors approaches. Expert review of medical devices, 15(1), pp.15-26.
Cheshire JR, W.P. 2017. Telemedicine and the Ethics of Medical Care at a Distance. Ethics & Medicine, 33(2), p.71. Culture Victoria. n.d. Alfred Health. Available at: https://cv.vic.gov.au/organisations/alfred-health-the-alfred-caulfield-hospital-and-sandringham-hospital/
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Thomas, K. 2018. Understanding key stakeholders and value drivers in relation to new technology adoption: The percutaneous evolution of Mitral Valve Medical Devices (Doctoral dissertation, ResearchSpace@ Auckland).
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Zaman, S.B., Hossain, N., Ahammed, S. and Ahmed, Z. 2017. Contexts and opportunities of e-health technology in medical care. Journal of Medical Research and Innovation, 1(2), pp.AV1-AV4.
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