The Role and Importance of Digital Health under the Spotlight during COVID-19 Pandemic: Barriers, Challenges and Enablers for Broader Adoption

Authors : Nino Mikava

Volume/Issue : Volume 6 - 2021, Issue 10 - October

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The role and importance of digital health has been rapidly increasing in many countries of the world, in the last decade. Furthermore, its uptake dramatically accelerated during Covid-19 pandemic and is under the spotlight. In particular, telemedicine has become an only alternative for the management and prevention of noncommunicable diseases and their complications, during lockdowns and social distancing. For the effective utilization of telemedicine services electronic medical records carry great importance. Electronic medical records have significant potential to improve quality of patient care and patient safety, facilitate workflow and provide benefits to specialists and healthcare organizations. While benefits and importance of telemedicine and electronic medical records has been widely recognized, adoption is still lagging behind in many countries, especially in developing countries. The purpose of the presented research was to identify barriers and challenges for digital health adoption in healthcare sector, as well as, on the system level. To best achieve the research objectives, qualitative research method was applied. At the first stage, a detailed Literature review was conducted and was focused on barriers and challenges, as well as, enablers for broader adoption of telemedicine and EMRs. A total of 150 articles were identified and among them, 80 were determined to be relevant. At the second stage of the research unstructured, in-depth interviews were conducted with the stakeholders. In total, 29 interviews were conducted, recorded, transcribed and analyzed using N-Vivo software. Analysis of the results revealed that major barriers for telemedicine and electronic medical record adoption on the system level are- lack of clear vision and strategy with regard to digital health, lack of reimbursement of telemedicine practices, inadequate legislative framework, lack of coordination and consistency, lack of stakeholder engagement and cooperation. Moreover, on the provider level major barriers are – resistance to change, low awareness, lack of trust in healthcare professionals and technological illiteracy. Cultural barriers and skepticism among doctors and specialists contribute to the hindered adoption of digital health, as well. On the basis of results of the research recommendations were elaborated for decision makers. Consideration of these recommendations will facilitate irreversible process of digital transformation and technological disruption of healthcare in the Georgia.

Keywords : Digital Health, Telemedicine, Electronic Medical Records, Electronic Health Records.


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