“Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.”- Arthur C. Clarke (Author)
From building new relationships to making new discoveries, technology has countless benefits. Not only has it improved how we live, but it has also improved for how long we live. Back in 1820 a person could expect to live less than 35 years, today the human life expectancy is 72 years. All thanks to the technological advancements in the healthcare sector.
With endless benefits provided to the patients and easier access for the medical staff, automation has been a game-changer. Comparing the healthcare industry in the 1900s to the one present now would be like comparing a Fiat to a Ferrari.
Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
To start, If you’ve ever taken a handwritten prescription from a doctor or looked at the notes from your visit, it seems like no amount of squinting could make the letters clearer. Bad handwriting almost seems like a requirement for graduating from medical school. What is the solution? After all, doctors have no plans of changing their handwriting.
The answer is EHRs, or Electronic Health Records, which are digital summaries of a patient’s medical records. This has been a game-changer as they are replacing outdated paper records. These electronic records facilitate the easy sharing of information and collaboration between labs and specialists without the time and resource expenditure on physical transmission.
Doctors and nurses are then responsible for inputting patient data into a central, digitized system. The record could include diagnoses, lab reports, details about hospital stays, surgical interventions, and prescriptions. The data is easily accessible to physicians, so they access complete medical histories of patients and make the most well-considered medical decisions.
App Technology In The Medical Field
Records can be digitalized with the help of EHRs, but how are the patients going to access their data? It is quite simple. We can access the data through our mobile phones.
There are a number of mobile applications that allow patients to search for medical professionals in their area, read their reviews and feedback by other patients, and then make an online appointment if they are satisfied with the information that they find. Apart from these, they can also download and store their medical lab reports, and order medicines online at affordable prices. Who thought, with just a click of a button, that you could do so much?
What Is Done With The Data?
Big Data and Cloud store our data. To explain both these terms in simple words, “Big Data” refers to the large sets of data collected. As for “Cloud Storage,” it involves the data collected, which is then put on a hardware in a remote physical location, which can be accessed from any device via the internet.
Big Data and Cloud work in collaboration with EHRs, as the data collected from the patient is stored in the cloud. This data is then used for analytics, making predictions about possible epidemics, and ultimately preventing deaths.
Cloud storage of data helps improve efficiency and accessibility while reducing wastage. This also helps in research and development of new treatment protocols and lifesaving pharmaceutical formulations. They are priceless, as they could be used for medical research, providing vast amounts of research and analysis and facilitating efficient health information exchange. The cloud provides secure and cost-effective storage solutions, with backup and recovery features, but without the hassle and cost of maintaining additional server hardware.
Enhanced Patient Care
With EHRs being accessed from nearly any medical facility, which is extremely useful for doctors assessing non-local patients (and crucial if the patient is unresponsive). Doctors can quickly identify possible medication errors.
Not only do patients have easier access to medical reports, technology helps contribute to patient-centred care by fostering communication between providers and patients via online portals, text messaging, and email.
Information And Communication Technology
Information and Communication Technology is a huge field in and of itself. With 20% of the global workforce working in IT, constant improvements are being made in this part of the field. Their main priority is to streamline how the healthcare industry functions and how patients interact with their care providers. Did you know that the number of global smartphone users in 2020 is projected to total 3.5 billion, marking a 9.3 per cent increase from 2019? With a current global population of 7.7 billion people, this means that the smartphone penetration rate is at 45.4 per cent. With this many phones, I do not think it would be too difficult to connect the industry with the patients.
Email, smartphones, telemedicine, and telemonitoring systems are all used to share information and are especially useful for more rural areas and locations with a lack of facilities and/or specialists.
From diagnostics to management, counselling, education, and support, there’s seemingly no end to custom healthcare software development.
Telemedicine and Telehealth
Another field which is booming in the healthcare sector is Telemedicine. Telemedicine is the use of technology that enables remote healthcare (telehealth). It makes it possible for physicians to treat patients whenever needed and wherever the patient is, by using a computer or smartphone. It allows long-distance patient and clinician contact, care, advice, reminders, education, intervention, monitoring, and remote admissions. Some examples of telemedicine include health education services, remote monitoring of vital signs, ECG or blood pressure and remote doctor-patient consultations.
Healthcare jobs are highly benefiting from telemedicine. Fewer patients and less pressure on the front desk are just some of the many benefits this magic provides.
Other benefits include:
- Shorter patient waiting times
- Improved access in rural areas
- Improved efficiency, leading to savings
All of this leads to better patient care.
Disadvantages To Technology
Before we end, I would like to point out some certain disadvantages. I believe if we the disadvantages then we have a much better chance at improving.
Risks From Hackers
A concern that arises due to the advancements is the risk of medical records being hacked. In 2015, hackers stole records for almost 80 million Anthem customers and employees, the second-largest health insurance company in the US. Only names and addresses were stolen, (no details of illnesses or treatments were exposed), but if this can occur to an insurance giant such as Anthem, it raises questions about how safe patient records really are in your local clinic.
The Lack Of Interconnectivity
Some patients do not have access to technology, which means a lack of communication between patient and doctor. Sometimes, this lack of communication can put patients’ health in danger.
Technology is taking the world apart. As for healthcare, they are adopting technology better than other fields. Using technology in healthcare is highly beneficial not only for big companies but also for developing countries as it is so cost-effective. There are certainly disadvantages, such as the risk of medical records being hacked. However, the advantages outweigh them. No more bad handwriting, no more errors, better treatment and care, there are countless benefits to technology.