Healthcare Technology Featured Article

September 26, 2014

6 Ways Technology Has Changed Healthcare for the Better

While new technology has been leaving its fingerprints on every field, no sector has been affected more than the healthcare industry. Technological developments and improvements over the past few years have paved the way for incredible changes in this area.

Take a look at some of the specific ways these new discoveries are changing healthcare for the better.

  • Data consumption. In the healthcare industry, data is everything. From analyzing diagnostic reports to filing patient treatment histories, healthcare facilities are bursting at the seams with information. According to researchers at IBM, the same super-computer that won a game of Jeopardy in 2011 is now being used to help physicians make more accurate diagnoses and recommend treatments. While it’s a bit of a stretch to assume computers might one day perform all diagnostic labor, the work of this computer clearly signals a shift in medical care.  
  • Improved communication. With their busy schedules and limited free time, as well as the restrictions imposed by HIPAA regulations, doctors can be difficult to get hold of. New developments in technology have focused on this pain point and are designed to improve the link between patients and doctors (and vice versa). A new social network called Doximity is attempting to connect doctors better by providing a safe place to interact. Currently, 40 percent of U.S. physicians are already on the site. Another technology, Omnifluent Health, is a translation software that instantly converts a doctor’s spoken words into another language.
  • Portal technology. With new advances in portal technology, medical providers are now able to provide better visibility to patients -- something that has long been sought. Patients can now get access to their personal information remotely, which enables them to take greater control of the process. Some of the benefits include peace of mind, fewer errors, and easier collaboration. According to Waco Hoover, CEO of the Institute for Health Technology Transformation in New York, it “empowers the patient and adds a degree of power in care where they can become an active participant.”
  • Remote monitoring. One of the most useful and practical innovations in recent years is remote monitoring technology. Home monitoring systems can be used by patients in the comfort of their home to reduce the time and costs associated with recurring visits to the doctor. Using a small device designed to measure a particular health issue, remote centers can analyze a patient’s data and alert them if something’s wrong. Remote monitoring devices are particularly useful for patients who have a pacemaker.
  • Accelerated experimentation. The recent Ebola outbreak has shown that expedited medical research and experimentation are possible. Because the World Health Organization (WHO) feared the detrimental effects of a world outbreak, vaccination research efforts increased. Scientists are using advanced methods involving chimp adenovirus, which is “closely related to a human version that causes upper respiratory tract infections.”
  • Mobile apps. An old Apple advertisement campaign used to say, “There’s an app for that!” That is almost certainly true today. In the health-care sector, there’s a mobile app for almost everything. Doctors, tech gurus, and patients are all putting their heads together to discover new ways to monitor personal health. You can now track your daily sleep patterns, count calories, research treatment options, and even monitor your heart rate.

Paving the way for a brighter tomorrow

New technological developments and innovations are leaving their stamp on every industry, trade, and sector. While there’s value in anything that solves a problem or simplifies a process, there is arguably no better application for breaking technology than in the healthcare sector.

The six items above are just a few examples of how technology is paving the way for a brighter tomorrow. Only time will tell what’s next in healthcare.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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