For doctors, almost all realise they need a new model to survive in the digitised ecosystem. To some extent, their attitudes mirror those of consumers: they believe consumers sharing health and lifestyle information will benefit patient care through improved transparency and more personalised care.
But many doctors fear being overwhelmed by a sharp increase in expectations and demand, driven by abundance of data and burgeoning consumer devices. They are concerned that their workload will increase with an inflow of vast amounts of patient-generated data, considered unreliable and unhelpful by many. Further, the doctors surveyed have relatively low levels of digital adoption. Technologies that augment clinical expertise and current processes as well as secure communications with other providers are being adopted but at a slow pace.
How do online diagnostics and virtual care models fit?
Virtual care models are at an early stage of maturity. A number of doctors consider virtual care models as an opportunity to deliver greater productivity if the reimbursement mechanism was adapted to the new reality. In the next decade, both consumers and doctors see technologies that systematise care delivery systems and processes such as AI, case management and care delivery pathways becoming commonplace.
The management of clinical conditions such as chronic, complex diseases will likely be underpinned by digital technologies that enable remote teams to care for people in their homes. Clinically-oriented technologies such as AI-assisted diagnostics, imaging analysis and medication management, and precision medicine are expected to become part of the core-business of medicine. According to the EY survey, doctors are not planning to be fast adopters of new digital health technologies in their practice/ workplace.
Of the eight digital health technologies mentioned, less than 50 per cent of doctors plan to introduce any of the technologies mentioned in the next three years. This is a serious challenge for the sector as a whole. A growing digital divide between the consumer-patient and doctor will come at a high cost to all and the community. Failing to act with urgency and in a systematic manner will make our healthcare system more costly per outcome delivered and will constrain Australia’s ability to provide sustainable health services that meet the needs of our ageing population.