The patient-physician relationship has evolved quickly over recent years, as digital technologies have taken hold. The American Medical Association is optimistic about the opportunities presented by these new advancements, but also cautions against compromising patient safety for the sake of innovation.
Today’s Technology and Trends
Telemedicine offers the opportunity for timely intervention and immediacy of care either through remote monitoring or via interactive appointments on a video chat platform. Both methodologies allow for patient care to happen in real time, without requiring a physical visit to the doctor’s office.
Mobile Apps and Devices
Known as “mHealth,” mobile apps and wearable devices can help patients take a more active role in their own health and well-being. Not only are there apps for medication management and other important reminders, technology-enabled devices can track patient data that encourages a positive lifestyle.
Health Information Exchanges
The concept of the Health Information Exchange (HIE) is that of an expanded health records database that allows for access by providers in a specific geographic region. It takes the mandates of practice-based electronic medical record (EMR) technology a step further by enlarging the available pool of data for patient care and public health purposes.
Physician Office Technology
From electronic charting to patient portals, technology has changed the way that physicians work. Patients have become accustomed to their doctors using laptops and recording devices in place of paper charts, and to logging on to a portal to retrieve lab results, request appointments, refill prescriptions and more.
The Future of Healthcare Technology
Virtual reality (VR) is changing the way that medical students train for the real world with hologram simulations that mimic actual patient care scenarios. Patients are also benefitting from the technology with tools that are being developed to help with anxiety, depression, chronic pain, PTSD, and dementia. It is expected that the global market for healthcare VR will reach $3.8 billion by 2020.
Internet of Things
Smartphones, smart watches and Internet-connected devices have become commonplace and are already being used to facilitate patient health management. The next step for technology-enabled devices includes implantable monitors and ingestible sensors for chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Much like virtual reality, the Internet of Things (IoT) for healthcare is predicted to encompass 40 percent of the total IoT marketplace.
While data security remains a lingering concern for leadership, 55 percent of healthcare organizations have migrated at least some of their data and applications to the cloud.The advantages come in the way of decreased cost, easier accessibility, and improved interoperability. Researchers are also benefitting from the trend by having increased access to larger pools of data that they can leverage for disease-specific and pharmaceutical studies.
Many of the current and future advances in digital technology play a role in enhancing population health. With more data available, physicians can better predict the prognosis for key groups of patients, more accurately gauge the risk of disease in a certain geographic area, and communicate more efficiently to help meet established goals.
As the healthcare information technology sector continues to expand, the demand for health informatics professionals is also keeping pace. In fact, several sources, including CIO.com, highlight the fact that the healthcare industry is particularly seeing a shortage of qualified candidates in the field.
If you have an interest in information technology and the digital revolution in healthcare, there has never been a better time to explore a Master’s in Health Informatics and the opportunities that may await.
American Medical Association
CDW Healthcare, “Health Tech Report Winter 2016”
Burning Glass Technologies, “The Labor Market in Health Informatics, 2014”
CIO.com, “IT Talent Shortage Hitting Healthcare Hardest”