From medical instruments to advanced computer processing technology, global informatics technologies are developing at a prodigious pace. In fact, health care is the fastest-growing industry in the U.S., according to Healthcare Informatics, adding 2.6 million jobs to the economy between 2003 and 2013. Learn which technologies are having the biggest impact on the health care industry today.
Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
In 2013, nearly 80 percent of physicians in offices used some variation of an electronic health record (EHR) system, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Similarly, the number of hospitals that use EHRs quadrupled between 2010 and 2013. Digitized health records follow patients between doctors and health care facilities.
In addition to improving safety and accuracy in clinical settings, EHR systems improve patient satisfaction, according to HealthIT. Patients don’t have to answer the same repetitive questions or fill out duplicate forms. EHRs reduce waiting time in the doctor’s office and offer faster access to medical data, such as test results.
In India, a country that has adopted EHRs and hospital information systems (HIS), many hospitals are focusing on increasing storage capacity for imaging and other medical data, according to the Indiatimes. This example illustrates how doctors who need ways to monitor ill patients over long periods of time must have the space to store long-term data.
In developed and developing nations, telehealth provides much-needed diagnostic and treatment services to patients in rural communities, reports the Rural Assistance Center. Telehealth, or telemedicine, allows patients to consult with physicians remotely via phone, video conference, and even robot.
Telehealth also encompasses technologies that aid in remote-patient monitoring. Physicians can check patients’ vital signs and other data from a distance, then develop treatment plans. Information Week reports that venture capitalists have invested more than $100 million in companies that develop technology for remote-patient monitoring.
The advances in telehealth allow patients in developing countries to receive treatment from physicians who live abroad. The National Institute of Health shared details of a telemedicine pilot project in French-speaking African countries. The project demonstrated that telemedicine could help thousands of citizens receive medical treatment.
Recent developments in health informatics have produced many varieties of smart sensors, which detect changes in a patient’s pathology and report them to the health care provider. For example, a smart sensor might serve as a virtual nose that can detect infection and other pathogens in a wound. Other smart sensors might monitor glucose levels in diabetic patients or deliver drugs, such as insulin, based on biological factors.
Information Week reports that health informatics technologies are moving toward interactive solutions that take advantage of patients’ comfort levels with technology. For instance, physicians and medical researchers recognize the power of video game systems and have begun using them to create health-centered programs.
Similarly, experts expect to see more health-specific social networks. Instead of posting photos of children and restaurant meals on Facebook, patients can discuss their symptoms and experiences with other patients as well as health care providers.
As global informatics technologies progress, the health care industry benefits from more advanced tools and more precise diagnostic practices.
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