Why healthcare sector is struggling with its digital reincarnation?

In the future, when we would look back at this time, healthcare informatics would be seen as the biggest healthcare revolution of our generation. Inside the wider field of healthcare informatics, mental health is arguably one of the most information rich fields. Most mental health problems are chronic in nature, necessitating several encounters between the clinician and the patient over many years. In addition, mental illnesses are poorly understood in terms of their exact neurobiological mechanisms, which make it difficult to have standard laboratory tests to quickly establish the diagnosis. In practical terms, this means that unlike other professionals in healthcare a mental health professional does not have the luxury of quick and reliable methods to make clinical decisions. Therefore the practice of mental health is marked by multiple lengthy clinical interactions with individual patients and the information generated by such encounters differs both in quantity and quality from most other fields of medicine.

The information rich practice of a health professional makes it vital that they are actively engaged to shape the agenda in the wider field of health informatics. In this article I am trying to cover some of the current issues with health data and informatics. It is based on the insights I gained from being at a unique vantage point of a psychiatrist and a tech entrepreneur, but the problems and potential solutions I am highlighting are equally applicable to every part of the modern healthcare IT systems.

When we think of using information technology in healthcare settings, we are mostly focussing on its transformative potential. The broad assumptions about the immense benefits that IT can bring to this sector are undoubtedly valid, but successful implementations of such technologies have proven to be difficult and challenging. Despite being an early adopter of information technology, healthcare sector in the developed world is still underutilising this technology to the peril of the patients and policy makers alike. While other major industries are moving on to the next stages of their digital transformations, healthcare sector is still negotiating with the transition from paper based records to digital records. Many factors unique to healthcare make this transition difficult but a commonly seen theme is the slow pace of policy innovation in healthcare IT.

In this blog I would try and cover many challenges, and potential solutions to these very problems in healthcare IT.1The content of this post was later included in a chapter in the following publication: Tyagi, H. (2013). Health data technologies: the current challenges. In NEXUS STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS (Ed.), Commonwealth Health Partnerships. London: Nexus Strategic Partnerships for the Commonwealth Secretariat.


Also published on Medium.

footnotes   [ + ]

1. The content of this post was later included in a chapter in the following publication: Tyagi, H. (2013). Health data technologies: the current challenges. In NEXUS STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS (Ed.), Commonwealth Health Partnerships. London: Nexus Strategic Partnerships for the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *