Essay on Technological Challenge in Healthcare Sector

Published: 2021-07-09 16:29:05
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Middlebury College
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The healthcare sector has undergone tremendous changes over the recent years and especially concerning the application of technology in their activities. Innovation has been ongoing in the area of health, and this can be attributed to various major drivers. An example of this is telehealth that has experienced significant growth in the recent years. However, despite the expansive growth, the healthcare sector faces some challenges in the technological field. The essay will conduct an analysis of these problems concerning how it applies to organizational behavior and development.

Telemedicine depicts the utilization of various forms of telecommunications technology such as computers and phones to offer clinical services to patients. The costs of accessing health care have been rising, and this has made consumers seek alternative forms of treatment or care. Due to this occurrence, the medical communities have now come up with telehealth to serve as an alternative to the traditional care (Jin & Chen, 2015). The implementation of telehealth has enabled individuals to have better access to specialists. There have also been improved health outcomes and better quality of care as well. Additionally, telehealth has allowed medical providers, patients, and even insurers to minimize the costs of health care and thus save funds. Through the use of remote analysis and services for monitoring, hospital visits that can be quite expensive especially for patients with chronic conditions can be reduced (Buchanan & Deursen, 2016). Nevertheless, the benefits of telehealth in the health care sector as a form of technology practice faces some challenges.

One of the biggest challenges facing telehealth concerns payment. The aspect of pay parity especially reimbursement and coverage for the telemedicine services as compared to those of the in-person services is a significant encounter for telehealth. There is usually no assurance of payment equivalence between telemedicine and the in-person health care. Some states have passed laws on pay parity but do not have the right apparatus to enforce this regulation (Dinesen et al., 2016). Standing et al., (2016) pointed out that this undermines the role of telehealth to minimize the costs of healthcare and even increase the access to health services. Besides, lack of equipment or enforcement of the regulations passed also hinders the healthcare providers from offering telehealth due to the lack of guarantee of similar payment.

Misdiagnosis is another issue facing telehealth. It typically occurs in in-person health care. However, with telehealth, the risk increases. Also, the lack of clear standard of care that has been established by the state legislatures has made the situation to be worse. The quality of care being given to individuals may be uneven between the providers. The aspect of misdiagnosis concerning telehealth has the capability of increasing the overall costs to the wide-ranging health care system. This is because misdiagnosis results to wrong treatments and prescriptions advanced to patients (Jin & Chen, 2015). According to Standing et al., (2016), the CDC has even pointed out that one-third of antibiotics prescriptions are not necessary. The inability of a telehealth service to determine a diagnosis depicts that a patient will require counseling to access an important form of care service. Large costs to the system and the patient may then occur if the visits are found to be pointless.

According to Buchanan & Deursen (2016), the healthcare sector faces a challenge of cyber risk. The shift of the healthcare industry to the adoption of electronic records has developed new forms of patient privacy exposures. Records are now easily accessed by other parties such as vendors and even targeted by the cybercriminals. The healthcare organizations have been exposed to cyber risks that have an effect on aspects such as the close down of the critical systems that are related to health. The occurrence of this means that there will be an adverse impact on the way people behave in the organization. The shutdown of some of the major health related systems may result in low levels of motivation among the staff. Furthermore, conflict may also develop among them as a result of some of them being left out with no duties to undertake that may result to laying off. Services delivered to patients may also deteriorate hence depicting a bad image of the organization (Stine, Rice, Dunlap & Pecarina, 2017). A breach of the data of hospitals as well as disruption in their networks may threaten various aspects of a healthcare organization. These are such as their status, security, and financial steadiness as well. On the other hand, the standard general liability strategies have been seen not to cover the risks linked to cyber and exposures suitably related to technology. The capability of the cyber liability insurance to cater for the risks would mean that it addresses gaps in coverage while at the same time facilitating firms to transfer risks that are linked to cyber. These risks are such as management of the crisis, privacy, and notification of patients and an analysis of forensic expenses. Moreover, it also entails elements such as certain regulatory fines, legal costs, and payments of indemnity (Buchanan & Deursen, 2016). According to Zhang et al., (2015), the cyber hack and breach of data have so far been identified as the major technical challenge in the healthcare sector. Healthcare organizations are being advised to collaborate with their insurer carrier and assess this form of exposure. In this way, they will develop effective risk management policies and thus ensure that there is proper coverage taking place.

At the organizational level in the healthcare sector, it has been observed that the budget availed for information security is quite small as compared to other industries. This is despite the high value of its assets that further makes it face a high level of threat as well. As such, most of the issues related to cyber security that is faced by hospitals is due to the lack of resources in this field. The small size of the staff who deal with information security in most healthcare facilities has thus intensified the issue of cyber security. Additionally, these staff lack the required level of skills and even background to make them fully competent in handling cyber security problems (Stine, Rice, Dunlap & Pecarina, 2017). According to Mohammed, Mariani & Mohammed (2015), once a healthcare facility has an information security staff that are fully trained and equipped with the right level of knowledge and skills, an improper organizational structure may hinder them from having the appropriate control to define the aspect of active security policies. Studies conducted have also indicated that the staff in hospitals are given minimal or even no training on safety as well. As such, most of them lack the right elementary practices. Besides, they also lack information on some of the common mistakes to avoid in their work. This has resulted in the healthcare organizations facing a high vulnerability to cyber-attacks.

The issue of cyber risk in healthcare organizations can also be analyzed at the physical level. However, the physical security is not connected to cyber threats directly. The physical access to the hospital network is quite easy for access in most hospitals. Most of the rooms belonging to patients offer a connection to the network. This is because they expose the open ports that are usually used for plugging the medical equipment. In this way, the cyber attackers can in an easy way develop situations that give them access to the network entry points. This form of exposure can easily be alleviated if the system was monitored (Perakslis & Stanley, 2016). However, it has been observed that there are no security measures that have been implemented to detect the connection of intruders to the network. As such, no action hinders them from acquiring access. Also, most of the systems in hospitals such as medical devices and mobile workstations can be viewed by guests. As such, an external party could easily modify or even get control of a device to create a foothold on the network or even cause harm to a patient. Preventing external parties from accessing these devices physically has become quite difficult and even impracticable as well (Zhang et al., 2015). According to Stine, Rice, Dunlap & Pecarina (2017), the massive workflow in healthcare organizations has resulted in the medical staff accessing information in the presence of patients and thus exposing their credentials every time. The repeated exposures have further heightened the chance that they are usually compromised and even used maliciously. Therefore, there should be new defenses taken when designing the safety of the mobile medical systems.

According to Mohammed, Mariani & Mohammed (2015), most hospitals have been observed to lack the right full knowledge of their information technology infrastructure. Very few of them have the exact knowledge of aspects such as their network and documents required to summarize this information. As a result, this paves the way for security breaches and other forms of susceptibilities to developing as updates and other forms of upgrades are delayed. Furthermore, devices also end up being misconfigured as a result of the security breaches.

Most networks in hospitals have also been designed without considering the element security matters. Their forms of architecture have also made it challenging or even unbearable for effective security controls to be implemented. Furthermore, most of the hospital networks have not been fully subdivided (Buchanan & Deursen, 2016). Weak forms of access controls have also been implemented in the healthcare sector. This has hindered several structures such electronic health system printers, portals, and stations of nurses from communicating with each other in a freestyle. Besides its facilitation of the infection of the network and the outflow of data, it has made access to the devices that are connected to the living patients to be quite easy (Stine, Rice, Dunlap & Pecarina, 2017). As a result, the health of patients has also become very vulnerable to cyber-attacks as well.

At the technical level, healthcare organizations have been utilizing legacy systems. Currently, most organizations rely on devices that are no longer supported or which have reached their end of life. They consider the upgrade of these systems as an expensive measure and thus continue to utilize them as long as they are still functioning. The legacy systems have however been pointed out to be easy targets for perpetrators as long as they are not adequately maintained. Their vulnerabilities can be indeterminately exploited. This is as a result of the patches not being given an opportunity to fix any issues that they may be encountering (Zhang et al., 2015).

According to Belle et al., (2015), in every healthcare organization, there is the use of a form of a digital patient data management system. The data being used is required to be made in an accessible way to the medical care practitioners as well as diagnosticians and other specialists in the medical field. Most of the sensitive data about patients are usually stored as electronic health records. However, the professionals in the health information technology need to implement new strategies for the secure management and even protection of data. Also, they also need to ensure that the protocols of healthcare management are in line with the regulations that have been laid down by the government. An example of this protocol is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability.

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