Should Patients Be Wary of New Healthcare Technology?

Hospitals have implemented new technologies rapidly during the pandemic, but are they the safest choices?

By Mackenna Moralez
January 25, 2022

Technology is rapidly evolving because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Innovation that was supposed to take up to five years to implement was added in less than a year. As a result, emerging technologies are now common and are becoming more crucial to industries. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are no strangers to new technologies, and if anything, they benefit from it the most. 

A report from MobiDev found the top healthcare technology trends that are likely to impact the sector this year. They include: 

  • artificial intelligence/machine learning 
  • telemedicine 
  • extended reality 
  • Internet of Things (IoT) 
  • privacy and security 
  • bioprinting 

These technology trends have caught the attention of top officials in the healthcare market. In January, officials from Brookings Institution, Cleveland Clinic, Duke Health, Intermountain Healthcare, Microsoft, Novant Health, Plug and Play, Providence, UC San Diego and University of Virginia formed the Artificial Intelligence Industry Innovation coalition (AI3C). The group aims to maximize technology to provide recommendations, tooling and best practices for AI in healthcare.  

The AI3C board will co-create AI solutions for positive societal and healthcare outcomes, identify and set the AI strategy and vision for a variety of projects and track the success of AI adoption in the industry. To achieve these goals, members will focus on providing a comprehensive program for responsible AI education and upskilling by providing white papers, new tools, programs and social media outreach. 

“Meeting the urgent need for new health technologies requires diverse partners coming together across sectors,” says Ashley Llorens, vice president and managing director with Microsoft Research and Incubations. “With perspectives from AI practitioners, healthcare professionals and the research community, the AI3C can guide collaborative projects that accelerate the translation of frontier technologies from research to solution development, to implementation.” 

While emerging technologies are quickly getting added into other industries, facility managers in hospitals and other healthcare facilities should proceed with caution before full implementation. In ECRI’s Top 10 Health Technology Hazards of 2022, the company notes that a strong need still exists to build strong and more resilient processes as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.  

As previously reported by Healthcare Facilities Today, cybersecurity is becoming a top concern in the healthcare industry. In the last three years, more than 200 hospitals have fallen victim to cyberattacks, but only 65 percent of healthcare facilities officials believe their organizations have the appropriate security tools and resources, according to the 2021 Shred-It data Protection Report. It is the hospital’s duty to protect a patient’s personal information. To prevent these types of cyberattacks, healthcare facilities will have to create a strong security team. If an attack does take place, the facility must be transparent with patients as they work to continue to protect them. 

Meanwhile, supply chain issues could greatly impact patient care this year as many materials are backlogged due to high demand from the pandemic. Not having these tools available could potentially risk patient care.  

More hospitals and healthcare facilities have chosen to go paperless and use WiFi-enabled devices. While there is a benefit of having documents and patient files readily available, if there were to be a ransomware attack or a power outage, a wireless communication failure would disrupt workflow, potentially harming a patient. WiFi systems need to be regularly maintained in order to avoid outages. 

"The question is not whether a given facility will be attacked, but when," says Marcus Schabacker, president and chief executive officer of ECRI in a press release. "Responding to these risks requires not only a robust security program to prevent attacks from reaching critical devices and systems, but also a plan for maintaining patient care when they do." 

More than ever, healthcare providers are relying on technology to deliver safe and effective care. It is crucial that managers vet technology thoroughly before implementation because it could put patients and their data at risk. 

Mackenna Moralez is assistant editor with Healthcare Facilities Today. 

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Topic Area: Information Technology , Security

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