Rising Costs of Digital Solutions
However, the broader integration of digital solutions in healthcare is not without consequences. Typically, adopting digital solutions portends a rising cost of healthcare. This is likely to increase as more efficient and sophisticated digital solutions are adopted.
Furthermore, hospitals may have to deal with inefficient and underperforming technology, which ideally should have helped streamline operational costs. These suboptimal digital solutions strain healthcare resources. Also, healthcare institutions are sometimes billed for maintenance contracts and software licenses prior to the go-live date. It implies that hospitals accrue costs for the technology that is yet to contribute to their operations.
Presently, the cost of greater adoption of information technology solutions in healthcare is problematic as hospitals and healthcare systems worldwide are trying to deal with the increased spending associated with the perseverance of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, more robust integration of effective information technology appears to be one of the solutions to the myriad of problems healthcare systems battle globally.
Easing the Cost of Digital Solutions
To ease the rising cost associated with digital solutions in healthcare and enhance patient-centered care, clinical effectiveness, and operational efficiency, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has actively advocated investments in healthcare information technology systems.
According to the 2016 Annual Report of the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, between 2002/03 and 2015/16, the Ministry spent over $8 billion on Electronic Health Records (EHRs). The Auditor-General anticipates that expenditures on digital solutions will continue because additional work is required to enable a fully functional EHR backed by a province-wide network. Since the Auditor General’s report, healthcare institutions have raised their proportional investment in information technology. This is corroborated by an increase in the total health expenditure in Canada, rising to 300 billion dollars in 2021.
As healthcare systems prioritize leveraging digital solutions to make the most of the vast amount of new clinical, financial, and socioeconomic data being generated by electronic health records (EHR), linked medical equipment, smartphones etc; stakeholders must continually raise investments in healthcare to cope with the strain of rising health IT expenditure.
Next Steps and Conclusions
Healthcare will inevitably become more digitized and technological. Most healthcare institutions in Canada allude to this premise. Many hospitals acknowledge the need for further investments to renew their aging and inadequate information systems.
Collaboratively, a recent report published by Frost & Sullivan indicates that more than fifty percent of hospital respondents surveyed have plans to increase their IT investments as they work to navigate their way through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Telemedicine consultations and an increased emphasis on preventative care are anticipated to become more prevalent in the future. This is because the focus of care is shifting toward keeping patients away from hospitals. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand for technologies that make it possible to conduct virtual visits and remote patient monitoring.
Furthermore, as the data management skills of health systems improve, predictive analytics is another area that can benefit from more robust investments. Tools for data visualization and artificial intelligence will likely be a high priority soon due to the increasing interoperability and usability of healthcare data across the health system.
In conclusion, as hospitals grapple with how to realign legacy systems and strategies to meet the changing healthcare environment, strategic investments in healthcare IT have clearly increased and will likely continue to expand. So, it is imperative for healthcare institutions and stakeholders who are skeptical about investing in digital solutions to make the needed change to catch up and get ahead of the technological curve.