Healthcare sector has evolved beyond the traditional concepts of medical procedures. In the last few years, the industry has witnessed dramatic changes that has transformed the way of treating patients and collecting their healthcare records.Today, the healthcare industry is taking a helping hand from a digital companion to determine patient’s health improvements based on much more than present medical records.
Gone are the days when patients had to take an appointment at hospitals to consult doctors. With the help of telemedicine and innovative technologies such as big data and artificial intelligence, patients are empowered with more advanced tools to book an appointment online and send their reports via email to the healthcare professionals. Rise in demand for quality healthcare services and solutions and increase in government initiatives to promote healthcare IT are the primary factors drivingthe market growth. According to a research firm, Allied Market Research, the U.S. healthcare information technology (IT) market will reach $149.18 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 11.7% from 2017 to 2025.
What are the major benefits of healthcare IT?
The ultimate goal of healthcare IT is to bridge the communication gap between patients and healthcare professionals. Moreover, healthcare IT converts patient’s information from paper records to electric health records (EHR), which enables doctors to access patients’ data regardless of location and time zone. With patients’ every prescription converted into EHR, doctors haveall the details of patients’ ailments and candiagnose faster and with more accuracy.
While people debate that EHR has enforced clinicians to spend more time entering data than actually conversing and treating patients, there are several benefits of healthcare IT.
- Itoffers the ability to use data analytics and big data to accomplish health management programs and reducethe number of patients suffering from chronic health conditions.
- It helps share health data among academic researchers to develop new drugs.
- Healthcare IT uses cognitive computing and analytics to perform precision medicine (PM) according to individual patients
Healthcare IT is much more than just an electronic version of doctors’ prescription and other medical records. In fact, digital messages including emails, healthcare tips, chat logs, and other daily medical progress of a patient fall under healthcare IT. According to a survey, about two-thirds Americans have instant access to the internet, which entirely eliminates patients’ inability to consult a doctor in emergencies. Tech giants like Microsoft, Apple, and other new startupshave ventured into the healthcare IT market by launchingdigital applications and offering efficient security measurements.
Trends in healthcare IT
- Data analytics and artificial intelligence
There is no industry like healthcare that generates the humongous amount of data; if incorporated with artificial intelligence (AI), it will create innumerable opportunities in the coming future. Last month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first AI-powered diagnosis of images. A novel AI-driven software detects diabetic retinopathy by analyzing images of the back of the eye in a matter of minutes.The software produces diagnostic results, determining whether the patient has the condition that can lead to vision loss or not.
Not long ago, Microsoft announced that it has been working on to develop a healthcare team that would push doctors to use more cloud-based services. Microsoft hired Jim Weinstein and Joshua Mandel, two industry leaders, to help achieve this goal. Jim Weinstein, the former CEO of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System, joined Microsoft Healthcare to help migrate healthcare data to the cloud and the ex-Google employee, Joshua Mandel will take lead on creating a secure cloud architecture for all healthcare service providers.
The ultimate aim is to find a way to shift healthcare data to the cloud so seamlessly that it does not jeopardize its confidentiality. The company wants to create an open architecture that can help doctors, nurses, clinicians and allow them more time for patients while securing privacy of patients’ data.
- Internet of Things for asset tracking
In the medical field, technology can never replace humans as ultimately the decision-making authority lies with the individuals. However, the help of technology will always be welcomed in the healthcare sector. The advent of the internet of things (IoT) has a huge role to play in healthcare IT.
IoT is considered as the game-changing technology, whichhasthe potential to connect any electric device with a click of a button and collect data for diagnosing patients. Increased use of smart wearable biometric sensors, smart sensors,and medical device integration, smart beds, and medication dispensers are just a fewexamples of how IoT can revolutionize healthcare IT.The wearable devices connected to patient’s vitals could tell doctors the irregularities in heart rate or whether the patient is taking good care of himself or not. By sharing this information to the healthcare providers, doctors can make an informed decision for patients, taking every tiny detail provided by IoT devices into account.
Telemedicine is another area of growth in the healthcare IT. It empowers healthcare professionals to remotely interact with their patients, improving both efficiency and affordability of healthcare. Today, patients as well as caregivers have been familiarized with telemedicine and have learned to accept it as one of the many ways of delivering medical assistance. Recently, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center has announced that it will launch a novel telemedicine unit aimed at intensive care.
Instead of frequent video-conferencing with a patient at home, the medical center plans that the intensive care specialist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock will connect with other doctors and caregivers around the region to offer on-demand consultation.The program is aimed to increase access to healthcare in distant, rural areas by allowing patients to get treated at the local clinics. Combining the expertise of the doctors at Dartmouth-Hitchcock with the local clinics, patients could get the medical support whenever they want.
In addition, on-call specialists will have access to real-time data from patients, which will enable them to reach out to local doctors in case of emergencies.Such initiatives have helped evolve the traditional methods of health care and reduce the cost of medical care. Additionally, increase in government policies to support healthcare IT would help redefine the quality, equity, and affordability of healthcare throughout the world.
Swamini Kulkarni holds a bachelor’s degree in Instrumentation and control engineering from Pune University, and works as a content writer at Allied Market Research. She is deeply fascinated by the impact of technology on human life, and loves to talk about science and mythology. When she is not glued to the computer, she loves to read, travel, and day dream about her areas of interest.