Lately, the health care sector in New Zealand has been facing challenges related to the old-fashioned method used in offering services. In many occasions, it has made it difficult for patients to access affordable health services since many health hospitals lack the technological capacity to handle the increasing numbers of patients with different ailments. Due to this, the relevant agencies have been pushing health service sector, particularly the public health sector, to embrace modern technology so as to address the health crisis in the country. This has seen many health organizations to launch programs geared towards adherence to the set standards that require all hospitals to be evaluated by relevant authorities for capacity to over decent services to their clients.
The utilization of technology has been put forward as one of the major ways of guaranteeing proficiency, quality, and cost-effectiveness in healthcare delivery by New Zealand’s Therapeutic Services Framework (Leape, Berwick & Bates, 2002). The acknowledgment of these advantages is particularly imperative with regards to reports that show five years of back to back yearly twofold increments in health expenses and decrements in the quality of health services (Bates & Bitton, 2010).
Healthcare information technology (HIT) has proved to have a generous effect on the healthcare system by incorporating significant mechanized necessary knowledge and providing automated instruments. HIT ultimately helps in decreasing clinical practice errors in the data supplier side and the information user side. The integration of HIT and other technological practices has improved the current medicinal practice by upgrading, therapeutic and diagnostic systems, however, much still remain desired judging from the potency of technology.
The global health sector has been experiencing fast changes which are geared at introducing new technological machines aimed at effective service delivery. New Zealand has not been left behind in the clamour for digitization of health care services; however, its levels are yet to match those of the UK and USA as attested by rapidly expanding healthcare administrations and low rates of in-service training of health care workers new technology. Therefore, the healthcare service providers in New Zealand should reconsider the management process in the hospital and concentrate more on primary care of the patients instead of expanding the sizes of administration. Health organizations are required to make drastic transformational changes with regards continuous medical education for healthcare workers to ensure attainment of long-term objectives related to adoption and use of technology. Continuous medical education may entail the use of new drugs, new machines, and technology in addressing emerging diseases. The technology should also be helpful in proving and keeping patient information in a database that can be easily accessed by the staff in a health care centre or hospital (Bates & Bitton, 2010). These procedures will offer more personalized patient mediated consideration model by providing the advanced administrative skills in hospitals which help with constant regulation of patient wellbeing and chronic disease and also empowering cost management. Thus, in this way, it will improve the overall health delivery system.
Economics of Healthcare in New Zealand
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reveals that hospitals spend more than 30% of their resources wastefully. This calls for the relevant authorities to undertake informed plans that can be more efficient and profitable at the same time to relieve people the burden when seeking medical services in clinics and ambulatory centres. Evidently, many health hospitals have digitalized their services through computerized facilities that doctors use in carrying out procedures thus enhancing efficiency as many patients get attended in real time. The reason for integrating health systems is to offer the best standards of care to the citizen in New Zealand. Health facilities in the country are expected to achieve full transformation into new technologies to replace traditional practices characterized by high inefficiency (difficulties in patient data retrieval and harmonization) in the healthcare sector (Bates & Bitton, 2010). Because of this, many health facilities are clamouring to secure modern gadgets/machines to aid the diagnosis processes.
With digitization of the health system, patients can be monitored in improved devices and their progress recorded in a computerized system for future reference. Also, technological improvement in the hospitals can make it easier for doctors to communicate with their patients and give prescription via technological devices without having to have a live interaction. This can be a big milestone to achieving set goals for making health services accessible to many people, whether rich or poor.
In addition, it is vital for the health sector to implement an effective Information and Communication Technology (ICT). This can enhance information sharing among health service providers and their patients through an electronic medical record (EMR). This innovative technology can promote confidentiality in the manner information is shared and at the same time it serves as a good means of keeping information that can be used in the future. The biggest challenge is that this type of technology has not been distributed evenly in New Zealand. Although most of the hospitals have computerized management process regarding patient admission and discharge; developing digital hospitals is yet to be done with integration of advanced clinical facilities and technology (Bates & Bitton, 2010; McGinn et al., 2011).
Digitization of Healthcare Delivery
Lately, we have witnessed most insurance firms and staff using data that is generated from digital machines while planning for proper management of the well-being and achieving the healthcare needs of their staff. On the same note, pharmaceutical firms and life science scholars have started carrying out clinical examinations and receiving important data that enhances possible results based on reimbursement. This has resulted in the spread of the belief that consumers and technological companies can gain many benefits related to mobile health as it helps people to manage their conditions even in rural areas (Leape, Berwick, & Bates, 2002).
The benefits related to mobile healthcare has seen pharmaceutical companies, private hospitals and insurance companies to invest heavily on digitalization of the services provided as it has foreseeable benefits to both patients and organizations. Part of transformative plans for the government funded healthcare facilities should include emulating the private healthcare sector with regards to the digitization of healthcare delivery even at the lowest level, healthcare centres (Holroyd-Leduc et al., 2011).
Physician, doctors, consultants and other healthcare professionals provide medical services mostly in the health centres. Therefore, hospitals are always busy and occupied with healthcare professionals, clinical staffs and patients who are required to convey reliably the most high-quality administrations and results at the least conceivable expense (Leape, Berwick, & Bates, 2002). Failure to fulfil all these necessities will degrade the healthcare delivery system. Hence, the establishment of the digital hospital by renovating, redesigning and expanding current facilities will help in the advancement of healthcare delivery. The building of modern hospital can start with implementing one or more new changes representing alternative insights of the healthcare system (Kohn, Corrigan & Donaldson, 2000). Various potential changes that could embark the initiation of digital hospitals like EHR implementation, increased IT integration, health care regionalization or restructuring, updating of the process into automated service deliver are advocated for. Association duty, arranging, usage administration and end-client responsibility to the innovations are all crucial to a fruitful adventure (Jha, DesRoches, Campbell, Donelan, Rao, Ferris & Blumenthal, 2009).
Legitimately designed digital hospitals have a significantly constructive outcome on staff profitability and job satisfaction as well as on patient well-being. Today's deficiencies of the gifted workforce will develop more intense; in the meantime, the populace keeps on maturing and futures keeps increasing. An outcome is a high number of patients with complex prerequisites making it harder for the diminishing workforce to handle higher capacities effectively. With the growth in healthcare process, it is further entangled by inefficient manual procedures thus increasing work related stress, high labour costs and bringing down the performance of both employee and healthcare system (Leape, Berwick & Bates, 2002).
Despite being at the beginning stages of this kind of technological improvements, one in every five New Zealand citizens has used mobile healthcare devices for health care purpose which translates to around 20% of New Zealand grownups owning wearable devices (Kohn, Corrigan & Donaldson, 2000). This shows a considerable acceptance rate of mobile healthcare among this population. The business executives and influencers of wearable technology monitor talks on the social media so as to explore the effects of mobile technology in the health industry (Istepanian, Jovanov & Zhang, 2004). It is evident that mobile healthcare is essential for an individual’s well-being and health care among the New Zealand population. However, there is a rise in cases regarding the privacy of the patients’ data (Russell, Greenhalgh, Byrne & McDonnell, 2008).
The effort made by each of these innovations, both separately and aggregately, will better the future of digital hospital, and efficient care environment as staffs or health professionals will spend less time in retrieving patient data (Tachakra, Wang, Istepanian & Song, 2003). Technological innovations in the health sector will help the doctors and patients to access information through a wide range of remote controlled, wired and other hand gadgets both in the hospital and outside (Kohn, Corrigan & Donaldson, 2000). This will also, enhance proper clinical documentation as they can be retrieved in a wide range of arrangements, for example, emails, texts, picture and voice and can be assembled and collected according to the patient’s needs (Jha et al., 2009). This is important as information from earlier patients experiences with the same, or different hospital will be accessible to be compared with current information (Russell, Greenhalgh, Byrne & McDonnell, 2008). Also, the clinical staff’s cooperation with remote healthcare systems will be more proficient as they will not have to travel to attend patients in remote areas (Tachakra, Wang, Istepanian & Song, 2003). At the same time, voice correspondence will be all more auspicious and less disappointing. It will enhance communication with the patient, and less time will be spent in locating or searching information and other medical equipment (Wu et al., 2006).
Incorporation of Wearables in Management of Chronic Conditions and Training
Technology is advancing fast. The 21st century has witnessed an increase in wearable technology. Wearable technology is finding its way into the health care sector with regards to collection of vital statistics among chronically ill patients and training (to encourage high physical activity levels). New Zealand is somewhat lagging behind with regards to the uptake of wearable technology to ease management of chronically ill patients and improve physical training. New Zealand hospitals can implement the use of a wearable device which can help in giving real-time data regarding the patient’s progress (Leape, Berwick, & Bates, 2002). This technology gives notifications on daily activities on a visual screen indicating the amount of time one has used the gadget based on its data and activity for each hour (King et al., 2002).
Some of these devices can perform very complex tasks in a very simple and quick manner. The availability of mobile technology that can track almost everything from heart rate, body temperature, hydration level, sleep patterns to fertility levels and more confers the consumers the ability to take a proactive role in the monitoring of their health through the application of innovative technology. Some of the technologies that have rapidly evolved include smartphones, cloud databases, and advanced sensors; they put exponentially high levels of information at the fingertips of the consumers (PwC, 2014).
Consequently, consumers can have more access to the individualized tracking of their wellbeing as well as their data points. The ease of availability of “big data” is attributable to the exponential increase in self-quantification and self-knowledge through own-tracking. Some of the apps found in the mobile healthcare can offer perfect translations of vast amounts of data and even give sound suggestions, thereby, to some extent minimizing the need for doctor-patient interaction (PwC, 2014).
Digitization of services is a lengthy process that entails cooperation from various stakeholders in the healthcare industry. Some of the stakeholders are government, manufacturers of digital gadgets, the healthcare staff, insurance companies and the patients. Coordinated use of technology is likely to improve diagnosis, treatment, remote monitoring of patient’s progress, and encouragement of patients to adopt positive habits as well as ease data retrieval.
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