Technology is having amazing effects on so many fields and industries and changing things, in most cases, for the better. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the medical field. Technology allows medical practices to work smarter, faster and safer than ever before. While this is all true, that doesn’t mean that technology comes completely free of risks. The pace of innovation and adoption moves so fast that sometimes, even with incredibly important and useful technology, there can still be some unintended and unexpected risks. Here are the top 10 technology risks to your healthcare business.
- Patient Record Security – Probably the #1 concern as medical practices use the servers and the cloud more and more often to store secure patient records. A data breach that exposes your patient’s confidential information can lead to all types of problems from the tangible to the moral. Making sure your patient’s data is secure is a top priority.
- Regulatory Risks – Especially for digital health companies, dealing with local, state, and federal regulations can be incredibly complex. This includes complying with state licensing and practice requirements, handling numerous government payers and uncovered claims, answering state medical board actions, reconciling billing errors, and HIPAA compliance.
- Outdated Software – Having too much technology can have its issues but so can not having enough or enough up-to-date technology. The biggest problem with this is security. Data thieves prey on businesses with outdated networks, operating systems, and security. If you are still using older systems for any reason, you are putting yourself at risk.
- Network Downtime – As healthcare offices and practices rely more on their networks for everything from patient records to in-office communication, the specter of network downtime looms large. If your network goes down it can grind your office e to a standstill so make sure you and your IT partner do everything in your power to stop downtime and have a backup plan in the event it happens.
- Internet of Things – As connected medical devices become more prevalent thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), so does the possibility that these life-saving devices can be susceptible to either user programming error or network error is a problem. Like with other technology, fail-safes are important to consider in conjunction with IoT devices.
- Telemedicine – Being able to administer care over a smartphone or computer screen adds a level of convenience and immediacy that is great for the healthcare industry. The risk in this though is that medicine is and always has been a hands-on practice. The challenge of keeping the level and quality of care high enough through a screen can be difficult.
- Wearable Technology – Nowadays almost everyone can monitor what is going on in their body on their wrist or from their smartphone. This information can be immediately communicated to doctors for review. This creates a situation where patients may expect reports, feedback, and actions from doctors immediately when it is not needed. Managing expectations here is paramount.
- Physical Injury – Lifesaving medical equipment is one of the best things that new technology offers. However, knowing how to use this new technology safely and effectively is so important. When doctors use new equipment or instruments that they are not familiar with, the possibility of patient injury rises. Making sure everyone who uses this new equipment is properly trained on proper usage and safety is a must.
- Web Diagnosis – Websites like WebMD are a blessing and a curse to the medical professions, Yes, they help patients be more informed and engaged in their health and their treatments. On the flip side, they turn everyone into their own medical professional which can have dangerous consequences. Having patients keep in mind who the professional is can be challenging at times.
- Training and Adoption – The problems and risks with most new technology is not actually the technology. The issue is very often user error. In medical practice, you have people of all ages, from all backgrounds, and with different skill levels when it comes to using and adapting to new technology. You must constantly make sure everyone is informed, properly trained, and up to date on the latest best practices and standard operating procedures of what your practice is doing. This will help alleviate many of the problems above before they arise.
New technology has, on balance, been a huge benefit for the medical industry. If you familiarize yourself with the risks and take steps to mitigate them, your office, practice or hospital can reap incredible benefits.