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Tech Industry

Is your country ready to go high tech in health care? Japan isn't

New research from Philips investigates how health care systems can join the dots when looking after you, with emerging markets leading the way.

Technology can bring huge advantages for both patients and doctors, but not every health care system is ready to go high-tech.

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When you're ill, the last thing you want to do is to keep explaining your problems over and over again.

If your health care providers could talk to one another and share data more efficiently it would almost certainly improve your treatment -- not to mention making each trip to the doctor a less stressful experience. But new research suggests some countries aren't yet poised to join the dots in their heath care systems.

A new global survey of patients and doctors shows that emerging economies are poised to adopt new technology, led by the United Arab Emirates and China. In the ranking, compiled by Dutch manufacturer of health care equipment (and lightbulbs) Royal Philips, Australia comes in 4th, the United States 6th and the UK 9th.

The Philips Future Health Index surveyed 25,355 patients and 2,659 health care professionals across 13 countries, and gives each country a score on its readiness to adopt connected care technology, embrace data sharing and integrate different parts of the health system.

The benefits of data sharing and joining up health care systems can be seen in the number of patients (74 percent) who reported that they had to repeat the same information to multiple health care professionals, while 60 percent even had to repeat the same tests.

The report also looks at attitudes to connected devices such as smartphones, apps and wearables that collect data on your health and wellbeing. More than half of the patients aged under 34 reported that they own at least one health monitoring device. Many of those surveyed believed that they have the knowledge to manage their own health effectively, although health care professionals generally disagreed. Not surprisingly, older patients felt less savvy about technology.

Perhaps surprisingly, the country at the bottom of the report is Japan. The country is famous for its robots and cutting edge technology, but strict regulation and a lack of centralised oversight are among the factors that have made the Japanese health care system less efficient than you might expect.