Health Professionals and Technology: Can they break with Tradition?


Innovating technology is slowly but surely creeping into our everyday lives. Smartphones, Digital Personal Assistants, and cars that drive themselves are the norm. 

Technology is now starting to make its move on the world of medicine. However, there can be much resistance toward this healthcare tech amongst medical professionals.

Why We Don’t Like Change

It’s human nature to be suspicious of change. As we go about our daily lives we create habits. It can then become very difficult to break these habits and adapt to the changes that come with time. Science Daily reports “Research published in the journal Neuron shows that NMDA receptors on dopamine neurons in the brain's basal ganglia are essential to habit formation. These receptors function like gateways to the brain cells, letting in electrically charged ions to increase the activity and communication of neurons.” These communicating neurons are the basis of habit. The more you do something, the stronger the communication becomes. 

Most medical professionals have probably been going about their job in the same manner for years, forming strong habits. Something like technology, which may disrupt the way they do their job can lead to all sorts of issues. 

Why bother changing?

We know that resistance to change is a part of our biological makeup. As we create habits, it gets harder to break them. NCBI published a report discussing medical professionals resistance to technology. They found that “medical professionals have concerns regarding the design of eHealth services and the technologies on which it will rely. Medical professionals also hold subjective opinions of the usefulness of new technology, its complexity, and/or how familiar technology is to end users. Hospital culture, location, and size have impacted the decision makers’ consideration.” The report found that this usefulness is connected to an aging population. Older people are not as accepting of technology such as smartphones or tablets, therefore is there any real benefit to adapting healthcare technology if it’s not going to be adopted by those primarily using it? 

The Atlantic spoke to Dr. David Blumentha about this reluctance to adopt new technology. He said, “From the patient’s perspective, this is a no-brainer. The benefits are substantial. But from the provider’s perspective, there are substantial costs in setting up and using the systems.” It would seem that cost-effectiveness is an issue when it comes to adapting. If doctors aren’t bringing in more patients due to their use of medical tech, then Why bother changing from the traditional pen and paper?  


What’s Changing? 

Whilst we do have an aging population,those of us who have adopted innovative technology will be more likely to use health tech.

One of the main things that is changing in healthcare is the patient. In the age of Google, a patient can research their symptoms and self diagnose themselves with a few clicks of a mouse. The vast range of medical journals published online and the abundance of medical-based advice forums out there means patients are walking into their GP or Hospital thinking they know what’s up with them before an examination has even begun.

Patients are also becoming proactive in their well being, deciding to take their health and medical history into their own hands. Doctors who fail to keep up with this change may find themselves being left behind as patients seek out doctors and hospitals that invite innovative medical technology into their practice.