Healthcare technology has taken several rapid strides in the recent past, saving innumerable lives and improving the quality of care provided, as well as quality of life, all over the world. Technology has not only succeeded in delivering better healthcare experience to patients, but has also changed medical processes and the way healthcare professionals practice.
Latest Technological Innovations
Digitalization of Health Records
Introducing electronic health records or EHRs in place of paper has been one of the most significant moves that has impacted nurses, medical assistants, records and information technicians, billing and coding professionals, and more.
These professionals are responsible for entering weight, vital signs, test results and other patient information into the database, and these are used for processes like submission of medical claims, updating patient records with diagnostic codes, fixing appointments, and more.
Benefits of EHR:
- Improved Care: Thanks to EHR, physicians can be instantly alerted to potential problems like drug intolerance, allergies and so on. Any medical facility can access the records, making it very convenient for doctors to view the entire medical history of the patient.
- Better Public Health: Electronic health records provide precious information to researchers; this helps in the advancement of medical knowledge, and to develop new treatments for health issues. A centralized system across the whole healthcare system will be able to detect viral and bacterial infections instantly, helping authorities predict the severity of an epidemic, and equip them to deal with the situation.
- Workflow is Eased: The number of medical codes has increased more than 5 times; had it not been for the EHR system, medical billers and coders are not fatigued. They can also save a great deal of time, minimize errors in patient information and financial details, and access this info whenever they want regardless of where they are – leading to improved services and productivity.
- Reduced Cost of Healthcare: by switching to electronic records, outpatient care expenses have reduced by 3% – as per a study conducted by University of the Michigan.
Big Data and the Cloud
Big data simply refers to the vast amounts of data that an organization collects from numerous sources; this data is processed and analyzed to provide actionable insights and facilitate improved decision making. Big data in healthcare has benefits like:
- Lower healthcare expenses
- Predicting outbreaks
- Improving life quality of patients
- Minimizing wastage
- Higher death prevention
- Enhanced care quality and efficiency
- Development of new treatment methods and medicines
The shift to EHRs necessitated the use of storage solutions that could be scaled, had security, and were cost effective. This is how cloud computing made its entry into healthcare. Via the internet, cloud technology stores data and delivers services using hardware and software. This enables healthcare providers and patients to access specific data and files and use apps from any device connected to the internet.
Improved, secure storage
Huge amounts of data can be stored without much expense and with increased security; the cloud host provider maintains the hardware and servers and handles security, and provides backup and recovery services.
Enhanced Access to Big Data
The cloud provides easy and convenient access to big data, and it is used by healthcare professionals for analysis and exchanging information. This has enabled researchers to develop innovative treatments and life-saving medicines.
Information and Communication Technology
ICT connects healthcare professionals and patients, and is especially useful in remote areas that lack sufficient facilities or advanced services.
Information is shared via Smartphones, telemonitoring, telemedicine, webcams, and email, and they serve many purposes, like support, education, counseling, management and diagnostics.
This is a two-way video consultation and transmission of healthcare data like ECGs, and is used in many areas.
This is a method of monitoring a patient remotely, for vital signs, symptoms, etc. to provide diagnosis, prescribe medicines and so on.
Benefits of Telemedicine
Telemedicine often lead to less crowded waiting rooms and reduced pressure on the reception staff. Medical assistants are able to do their jobs better as well. Telemedicine also enables:
- Reduced patient waiting time
- Enhanced access for rural areas
- Higher efficiency and savings
Mobile health is nothing but the healthcare and medical info that mobile tech supports. At least 25% of physicians use mobile devices to deliver patient care. The advantages:
- Thanks to Smartphones, practitioners can serve patients in remote locations by accessing a patient’s electronic records, medical history, sending emails and writing prescriptions.
- With improved communication, medical billers are able to send reminders to patients about pending payments. It can also reduce paper use, time wasted holding on the phone etc.
Physicians need to take care to protect their mobile devices from cyber-attacks, and use them only over secured internet connections.
Mobile App Technology in the Medical Field
There are already several healthcare industry apps meant for both patients and physicians – in fact, 100, 00 of them – and several thousand paid apps are downloaded every single day.
Patients, healthcare providers and administrators – all gain more flexibility with mobile health apps; they provide a cost-effective way for facilities to deliver quality services, and patients can access them quickly and cheaply.
Some apps are educational, and others facilitate better communication between patients and healthcare providers. mhealth apps can help in:
- Managing chronic diseases
- Managing medicines
- Medical reference
- Fitness and weight loss
- Mental health
- Women’s health
Risks with Medical Technology
As with everything else, there are certain risks to over-dependence on technology.
Undoubtedly, a centralized repository of information is extremely useful – but there is a risk that it may not be accessible in an emergency, if there is a problem with connectivity – and this could have serious repercussions.
The Risk of Hacking
Stolen health creds fetch big money in the black market; patient records in your local clinic, if hacked, can be used to purchase drugs, submit fraudulent insurance claims etc, by making fake IDs.
Sure there are potential pitfalls; however, the advantages and benefits outstrip the disadvantages significantly. There is certainly no going back; users have to exercise caution, however, to ensure minimal loss or theft of critical data.