Advancing Innovation in Healthcare in the New Decade
Both the clinical and administrative sides of healthcare are constantly evolving, from screening job candidates to conducting patient visits to training medical students. As we enter a new decade marked by a global pandemic, these advancements create significant challenges and opportunities for all parts of a healthcare organization.
Telehealth and Remote Work
Telehealth options have expanded rapidly in recent years, especially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders across much of the United States. The growing use of telehealth options can provide greater scheduling flexibility for patients and clinicians. It can also reduce costs for provider organizations. Healthcare organizations looking to hire remote-only positions could also benefit from a greater range of potential candidates.
With advancements in videoconferencing technology and 5G Internet service, and new telehealth solutions entering the market, telehealth growth is unlikely to slow down. However, it also creates a unique set of challenges, including how to bill for telehealth vs. in-person appointments, and how to manage credentials and licensing for out-of-state providers. Hiring for remote positions can also be tricky, as most recruitment strategies prioritize face-to-face interactions rather than virtual meetings.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
As one of the hottest topics in healthcare, artificial intelligence (AI) has shown promise for both administrative and clinical healthcare applications. For example, new research suggests that one AI algorithm can help radiologists save time on redundant tasks. AI algorithms can also help the hiring process by analyzing applications and resumes for specific keywords, reducing potential hiring bias. AI-powered chatbots can also help train new hires and answer common questions during the onboarding process, freeing up HR professionals to handle more complex tasks and issues that may arise.
In many cases, however, the accuracy of machine learning algorithms remains unproven. While media outlets cover studies that show the usefulness of AI, they tend to give less attention to research that casts doubt on AI’s effectiveness. This may lead to an overestimation of the usefulness of AI applications. While machine learning can complete many redundant or tedious tasks, human professionals are still necessary for more complex tasks and difficult decisions.
Augmented Reality (AR) Medical Training
One of the biggest modern innovations in medical education is the use of augmented and virtual reality (VR). These solutions can provide more accurate training for surgeons, allowing them to better visualize a patient’s anatomy and guide their surgical tools. AR can also be used to educate patients, helping them to understand how a medication or surgical procedure works.
The constant evolution of healthcare can create frustrating and costly knowledge gaps among clinicians, executives, administrative staff, and medical students. By using them to train or retrain clinicians, VR and AR solutions may help keep medical students and clinicians’ knowledge fresh. This can have the added benefit of helping healthcare organizations become more efficient, reduce burnout, and stay competitive.
Many healthcare professionals, especially millennials, deliberately seek workplaces that encourage their professional development and career advancement. By offering AR training, an organization may be more appealing to job candidates.
Implementing Innovative Health Technology
One of the biggest challenges to healthcare innovation is its implementation. Healthcare executives and many clinicians may be skeptical of the value of more recent innovations. Even when there is significant buy-in, healthcare teams may lack the resources to implement new solutions.
There are a few options for resolving this HR challenge:
- Hire temporary workers to help fill staffing gaps while permanent employees undergo training.
- Focus on first training those team members who are more enthusiastic and tech-savvy, since they can go on to share their skills with others.
- Stay flexible in the type of training resources offered. For example, offer short training videos viewable on mobile devices rather than an hours-long, in-person training session.
Healthcare leaders, including operations and HR professionals, should keep an eye on these new technologies and consider how they can be applied to benefit their organizations. At the same time, however, healthcare professionals should remain aware of any limitations, as well as their potential.