Technology Acceptance

Acceptance among physicians / nurses (professionals) of new medical technology, nationally and internationally

Sabur Safi

1. Introduction

Today, new medical technology and innovative systems and applications are used in all medical facilities, such as physicians' and dentists' practices, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation clinics, nursing homes for the elderly and disabled, as well as hospitals and clinics. The field of artificial intelligence is developing very dynamically, so it is becoming an increasingly significant interest for all industries. Particularly in medicine, machine learning and big data can bring enormous benefits. Data is one of the driving factors in the medical industry, and artificial intelligence is able to process such data faster and more effectively. Chatbots are particularly well-suited for the provision of health-related advice. Machines can recognize all the interrelated factors regarding a person’s health more quickly and efficiently, which can revolutionize diagnostic processes. In addition, artificial intelligence helps health care professionals in providing treatment, enabling them to select the best possible treatment measures for individual patients. According to the latest data, the health care sector, supported by artificial intelligence, is expected to be a $6.6 billion market by 2021. Artificial intelligence is used to optimize not only work processes in health care facilities, but also treatment and diagnostic procedures.1
Despite the optimistic prospects and numerous advantages of new medical technology, it is not yet being used across the board. The reason for this is the critical or skeptical attitudes of medical personnel. In order to successfully implement new medical technology, medical professionals (physicians and nursing staff) should be prepared and trained in a targeted manner. It is also essential to sensitize medical staff to the use of computer-supported systems and applications in everyday work, taking into account the psychological aspects of acceptance of new medical technology. These will be examined in more detail below.

2. Attitude of professionals towards new medical technology, nationally and internationally

Today, new technologies are opening up more and more possibilities and paths in medicine. In most cases, medical technology improves the quality of life of people with disabilities, the processes of healing, the course of diagnosis and nursing care, as well as all treatment processes in general.1 Medical technology innovations in Germany are promoted by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the economic development agencies of the federal states. Numerous measures are being taken to promote medical technology. Such measures show that both the political establishment and the business and technology sectors regard medical technology as an industry of the future and are attempting to support it in various ways. In society, innovations in medical technology are more widely accepted than innovations in other areas; in fact, they are desired. More and more people are dependent on innovations in medical technology.2 In Germany, the medical technology sector is generally regarded as innovative, promising and capable of growth3 Nevertheless, the largest share of sales is generated abroad. The German domestic market for medical technology is growing more slowly than the world market – Russia, China, America, Australia and other countries have higher growth potential in the sector. The reason for this is the poor acceptance or lack of acceptance of new medical technology by German professionals. Elsewhere in the world, such acceptance is generally higher4
Nevertheless, the largest share of sales is generated abroad. The German domestic market for medical technology is growing more slowly than the world market – Russia, China, America, Australia and other countries have higher growth potential in the sector. The reason for this is the poor acceptance or lack of acceptance of new medical technology by German professionals. Elsewhere in the world, such acceptance is generally higher.1

With regard to the issues of big data, artificial intelligence and precision medicine, medical professionals in Germany are generally more skeptical than their colleagues abroad. This is demonstrated by the findings of the 2017 Future Health Index, for which more than 33,000 medical professionals and citizens in 19 countries were asked about the health system and its trends. According to the 2017 Future Health Index, 73 percent of medical professionals believe that the use of innovative medical technology is of great importance for improving prevention and home care services. At the same time, 63 percent of medical professionals point out that new technologies are currently used only rarely in everyday working life. Around the world, medical professionals perceive artificial intelligence as competition, although it is clear that it can hardly replace the personal attention of medical personnel. Moreover, technical understanding was recognized as a hurdle on the path to the widespread establishment of innovative medical technology, above all in Germany but also in Europe in general (including Italy).3
ore efforts should be made to introduce technology-supported networked care and to demonstrate its correct application. For example, there is a need for training courses in technology-supported networked care for medical professionals in Europe.4 Such results are also confirmed by the current Mutaree Change Barometer for the German health care industry, which was conducted in 2017. 89 percent of the medical professionals surveyed (100 in total) regard digitalization as the greatest challenge in the industry, and this must further intensify by 2021. However, acceptance of digital changes is not yet a given in the industry. Dissatisfaction with medical technology systems is particularly high in the clinical environment.5
A study by the international consulting firm Deloitte also found that the Internet of Things is encountering considerable difficulty in gaining acceptance in the German health care sector.1 There are various reasons for this. The first reason is the insufficient availability of resources and capacities necessary for the widespread use of innovative medical technology. The search for qualified specialists is becoming a real challenge in this context. The second reason concerns the existing communication deficits. It is necessary to convince medical professionals of the many advantages of new medical technology so that they are able to engage in a fundamental shift in their work routine. It is essential to generate the trust of professional specialists in technology-supported networked care. To this end, it is particularly important to develop a deep and well-founded understanding of the specific needs of medical professionals in the context of innovative medical technology. General acceptance can only be achieved subject to a global change or modification of the infrastructure. It should be made clear to medical professionals that they – like all other participants – can benefit from the application of new medical technology. Under these conditions its general acceptance can be attained. When considering the question of attitude with regard to new medical technology both nationally and internationally, it must be taken into account that the acceptance of medical technology innovations depends on numerous factors, such as age, gender, socio-economic status and the like. For medical professionals, perceived advantages/benefits of new medical technology are one of the most important factors in acceptance.1 The perceived ease of use of new medical technology also influences the attitudes of health care professionals towards new medical technology and leads to higher acceptance thereof. Further factors of influence include the job relevance of medical technology (its relevance for the work routine of the particular specialist) and subjective determinants (for example, its perceived acceptance among colleagues and personal inclination to adopt technology).2

3. Conclusion and outlook

Today, medical technology is experiencing an upswing throughout the world. The advancing digital transformation is driving the development of new medical technology systems and applications, the use of which can simplify and optimize health care processes. Nevertheless, there is still a lack of acceptance of innovative medical technology on the part of medical professionals – both nationally and internationally. The reasons for this are diverse and relate not only to a poor understanding of technology and communication deficits in relation to new medical technology, but also to subjective conditions, acceptance by colleagues and the perceived benefits of medical technology. Since the trend towards the widespread use of innovative medical technology will also shape the future of health care, it is necessary to get to work now to strengthen and expand acceptance by medical professionals through training courses, further education and various promotional measures.


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