A new survey of healthcare workers has concluded that in the struggle to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer HIT execs are involving employees in health IT investment decisions. This is not a good sign, as it suggests that we may see a new wave of Health IT investments that end users hate.
The survey, which was conducted by Eagle Hill Consulting, involved interviewing a random sample of 675 healthcare industry employees, asking questions about technologies like AI, robotics and automation.
The researchers found that health IT investment levels remain high, with almost half of those surveyed reporting that their employer introduced a new technology during the last two years.
However, by leaving employees largely out of the investment loop, HIT leaders might be setting themselves up for problems. Just 29% of respondents reported that their employer invests in the right technologies to help workers do their jobs, and only 42% said that changes in the technology infrastructure had a positive impact.
Not only that, survey respondents suggested they hadn’t gotten enough training to use the new technologies. More than three-fourths of healthcare workers said they needed to acquire new skills to adapt from new technologies, but only 44% reporting that their company gives them enough support to understand and benefit from these technology investments.
The lack of support may stem from ignorance of employee needs. Less than 20% of responding workers reported that they were asked for input on technology investments. Not only that, 13% of respondents said that they were completely unaware of technology changes in their company. Researchers also found that when companies that do actually solicit feedback, they do so after the new tech has been purchased.
Let’s hope that this lack of communication between healthcare workers and health IT execs turns around soon. As we know from painful past experiences, IT leaders who don’t take the work habits and needs of employees into account when they’re making investment decisions may have trouble getting them to adopt that tech. Nobody wants to hearken back to the times when providers made massive investments in EHRs that nobody wanted to use.
Of course, health IT leaders are only human, and given the all-consuming nature of the coronavirus battle, many are having to make quick decisions on what new technologies they buy for now. In this environment, many may feel that spending time gathering employee feedback is a luxury that they cannot afford.
On the other hand, let’s hope that they’re ready to spend more time understanding end-user needs once the COVID crisis begins to pass. It would be a real shame if HIT execs got out of the habit of involving team members, as it can only undercut their success in adopting new tech. Nobody can afford to let that happen.
(For a discussion of how Stanford health execs are adapting to COVID-19 problems, look here.)