The World Health Organization (WHO) just published a new study titled “Barriers and facilitators to utilizing digital health technologies by health-care professionals”.
The study calls for digital health solutions that take into careful consideration the needs of health-care professionals. It highlights infrastructure, technical, training, legal and ethical barriers, as well as concerns about increased workload. Better training programmes, incentives, and evaluations of perceived technology usefulness could increase the adoption of digital health tools among health and care workers.
Based on 108 systematic reviews and 9 ongoing studies, the study is the first overview to collate literature on the use and uptake of digital tools among the health and care workforce. It was conducted by WHO/Europe along with academics from Brazil, Denmark, India, and the United States of America.
The study notes that digital health technologies, such as wearable devices or telehealth solutions, can improve the performance and satisfaction of health-care employees, offering the potential to decrease the cost of medical services and enhance the quality of care delivered. However, barriers, such as resistance to change, difficulties understanding the technology, low literacy, or poor writing skills, along with scepticism from health-care providers, were often cited in the studies reviewed for the paper. To tackle these personal and psychological barriers, the study recommends adopting educational activities tailored to the needs and skill levels of all health and care professionals. High-quality, real-time technical support and coaching may also help increase health workers’ efficiency and reduce the fear of using new technologies.
This new study supports the Regional Digital Health Action Plan for the WHO European Region 2023–2030, which includes a focus on strengthening digital literacy skills and capacity-building in the general population, especially the health workforce, for the use of digital health services and disease prevention and management.
To download the study: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41746-023-00899-4