by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter | July 24, 2019
The U.S. is among the countries spearheading the adoption of digital health records globally... In fact, it’s the only digital technology that the U.S. leads in healthcare, according to Philips’ U.S. Future Health Index (FHI) 2019 Report.
The Dutch-based healthcare giant ranks the "Land of Opportunity" below the 15-country average leveraging the full use of digital healthcare technologies, including telemedicine and AI. And while used by 84 percent of U.S. healthcare professionals, DHRs still come with their share of challenges.
“Federal legislation, such as the HITECH Act, helped drive adoption of DHRs over the last ten years and helped U.S. healthcare move away from disparate, paper-based processes to digital records. Unfortunately, this rush to digitize came without common industry standards for data exchange and normalization, contributing to data silos and interoperability challenges,” Dr. Joseph Frassica, head of Philips Research, the Americas, and chief medical officer at Philips North America, told HCB News. “Today, 75 percent of healthcare data in our DHRs is unstructured, making it difficult to access and analyze.”
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Lack of standardization hinders interoperability, with 52 percent of American healthcare professionals less inclined to share health records among their peers inside their own facilities. In addition, 57 percent lacking access to DHRs. This in turn prevents professionals from extracting and using information to create large-scale data sets necessary for developing tools such as AI.
Combined with a lack of investments and regulations around the reliability and performance of AI, these challenges have lead to only 33 percent of U.S. professionals utilizing AI, compared to 41 percent of German and 85 percent of Chinese professionals.
Another missed opportunity is telehealth. A quarter of U.S. individuals indicate that consulting with a physician remotely for follow-up appointments via video or voice call improved their healthcare experience in the last five years. Despite this and reported reductions in clinician burnout, only 46 percent of U.S. healthcare professionals use the technology, which also lacks investments and regulations. Professionals also require more education in how it can help them spend more time with patients, be more proactive in a patient’s health, and minimize missed appointments, according to the report.
Patients, too, are partially responsible for these low rates, with 58 percent of U.S. individuals not seeing a healthcare professional when medically necessary due to lack of time, difficulty in making appointments and the lack of available specialists or care providers in their area. In addition, only 20 percent believe AI leads to more accurate diagnoses, while 37 percent associate it with less human interaction with healthcare.