National Health IT Week: 5 Ways How Technology Shaped the Last Decade

Abhinav Shashank
Fri 30 Sep 2016
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Darwin lived more than two hundred years, and his views on change are accurate even today.
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

For a brighter future of upcoming generations, healthcare needs to be ever-changing and responsive to technological advancements. After all, US healthcare is spending over $10,000 on the health of every person. Besides, there is always scope for improvement in every domain, and when it is healthcare where millions of lives are saved daily, then it becomes imperative that we work towards achieving better healthcare.

Holistic Coordination of healthcare through technology is still a dream in pursuit, with digitization, we are probably halfway through but a lot needs to be accomplished. What once was “impossible”, is now resolved on the fingertips of providers today. For instance, physicians can now remotely and continuously monitor vitals like sugar level, blood pressure, etc. making their patients safer through this patient-centric approach.

From small advancements in pen-paper mode towards digitized healthcare to advanced predictive analytics that provides meaningful insights on current population trends, we have come very far, and the scope of emerging technologies is breathtaking.

With acumen of doctors supplemented with technology a lot has been enabled; accessing every single detail of a patient is easier, and based on the medical history, their treatment is taken care of in the best possible way.


Journey from Past to Present

The old days had traditional methods and cures where the efficiency of care delivery was unknown and a lot of effort was needed to create impact at a population scale. Gradually the country was introduced to many health care reforms. It might have been a slow process, but a roadmap to enhanced care delivery was plotted, which was aimed to make the entire process of treatment and caregiving much easier and hassle-free. The change in the healthcare landscape took years to finally realize but happened nonetheless.

The question is have we enabled providers to stay efficiently connected with their patients and do we have a mechanism to keep patients updated about their health?

How is technology bringing in a paradigm shift?

  1. Patient Data Digitization 

Ever since the introduction of EMRs we have found a way to store patient records digitally. The current scenario suggests that is not enough, thus making all the data interoperable could be a great enabler. Important patient data like clinical, lab, claims and so on can provide meaningful insights on the population trend and best course of action. As of 2009, only 16% of US hospitals had EHRs, by 2013 this number skyrocketed to 80. With increasing EMRs, data Integration is the need of the hour and then we could aim for interoperability and thereon efficient HIE.

  1. Enhanced Transparency

Patients, very much like their physicians now can keep tabs on their health and plans, and communicate with their doctors when need be, increasing the transparency of care.  Even if the patient misses out on pieces of informations that require immediate action technology helps in taking care of that. Care Coordinators make sure that no patient ever misses out on any essentials: from medications, follow-up visits to deviations from best practices.   

      3. Advanced Connectivity

A small revolution: Doctors can get information of lab tests on their devices and send secure messages like health alerts and results using their smartphones, web portals or some third-party clinical system. With platforms providing access to data in a point-and-click fashion, the gap between providers and patients has been reduced manifold by speeding up the caregiving process.

  1. Access to holistic view of patients’ health

A constant holistic overview of patient’s health lets the providers be aware of their patients’ health and facilitate them by taking emergency measures. Today, technology has enabled practices to monitor a patient efficiently with a 36O view, where information like medical history, social determinants, risk scores, vitals, etc. is present to understand patients better and administer care accordingly.

  1. Genome Sequencing

Every human being is different, right down to every last detail. More than 3 billion of these sequences define a person. In the world of such disparity, Genome sequencing not only offers a better diagnostic accuracy but also promises benefits to the healthcare industry. Pharmacogenomics or genome sequence is being performed on various big data platform which provides manifold computational power that could give results in very less time as compared to conventional techniques.

This approach is the stepping stone for ‘Precision Medicine’ which could help reduce the billions of dollars that go into figuring out the best drugs for a particular case. Besides, performing various diagnoses, reducing readmissions and avoiding extra costs is also possible. Although tools for big data analysis in Genomics are still in the early stages, extensive research is going on to develop next generation solutions.


The Road Ahead

Technology has definitely brought changes in the care delivery process. Today, we have a chance to achieve true Value-Based Care, but there is one very important factor related to it. Doctors! No matter how effective our technology is, if it is not feasible for doctors, it will be all for nothing.

The aim should be to design something futureproof that meets the expectations of doctors and fulfill their needs. Dealing with technology should be like working on your smartphone. When we have an ecosystem where doctors can effectively use the advanced technology, we would see wonders happening.


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Tags: Big Data, Healthcare, Updates
Abhinav Shashank
National Health IT Week: 5 Ways How Technology Shaped the Last Decade

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