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How health tech can be tried and trusted

April 10, 2020
Risa Ravitz
By Risa Ravitz

While health tech is driving efficiency, it is not gaining traction like we expected. With many patients still hesitant to fully trust tech over humans, and the risk to human lives that could come from a software failure or misdiagnosis, this comes as no surprise.

Disparities exist between traditional healthcare processes and health tech adoption, but work must be done to close this gap. Let's take a look into how solution providers and healthcare professionals can overcome this hurdle and build trust in the innovations of the future.

Test, test, test
While a system failure or software malfunction may have wide-reaching consequences in industries such as retail or fintech, none of them would be quite as serious as those caused by the same error in health technology. Hence, anything that's intended to be deployed in a hospital needs to be tested extensively as faulty systems can have serious life or death consequences.

An unfriendly user-interface or a faulty Electronic Health Records (EHR) can cause delays or even lead to life-threatening situations. In 2013, IBM, along with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, developed a new Oncology Expert Advisor system with the aim to cure cancer. In 2018, a review of IBM's internal documents found that the system was making faulty and dangerous cancer treatment advice.

According to research published in The New England Journal of Medicine, confidence in American medical leaders has dropped from more than 75% in 1966 to just 34% today. So it's imperative that the technology doctors use should be well tested and work well.

It is no wonder that physicians only trust technology after peer review of research. Peer review involves subjecting your work to outside experts in the same field. When it comes to convincing physicians to adopt their products, health and biotech companies must be ready to face scrutiny and peer review of their research. These companies must consistently present measured and quantified evidence of the reliability of their technology, if they are to persuade a community of scientists.

Bridge the old and the new
While health tech can drive productivity and save on costs, that's not all that's required for a positive healthcare experience. Certain "human" aspects of healthcare are still very much needed. For example, if a patient has to be given bad news after a test, no screen or phone call can match the reassuring tone of a doctor.

Such incidents frustrate patients and leave physicians less confident of technology. Ultimately, a patient surrounded by the latest in medical devices still needs human attention to get better.

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