By Adrian Johansen, freelance writer; @AdrianJohanse18.
Without a doubt, data is the driving force for innovation within healthcare. It has allowed for processes to be streamlined, busy work to be automated, and medical professionals to have more time with their patients. This data within health informatics is giving doctors, nurses, and the like access to better patient information and allowing more precision within their work.
This patient information includes data on socioeconomic, environmental, biomedical and genetic factors. Data insights are transforming the healthcare industry, and experts point to artificial intelligence (AI) as the future of medical tech. One thing agreed on across the board is that, with these advancements, medical professionals will be able to treat patients with better accuracy.
These innovations are disrupting two arenas within the industry: patient care and institutional structure. Not only do these innovations in healthcare informatics better inform doctors and allow patients to receive an improved quality of care, but they can ensure that healthcare facilities run more smoothly. Here are a few ways that innovations from data informatics have been changing the world of healthcare.
More Patient-Focused Care
Data has allowed medical care to become more patient-focused. This means more time and effort is given to patients individually. Doctors have less paperwork to do because a lot of the organizational work is automated. But patients are also able to take care of themselves at home, or at least effectively communicate with doctors about their condition.
There are many applications for telemedicine and remote patient monitoring. We are seeing sexual health, disease symptoms and concerns, heart rate, dietary problems, and mental health counseling being addressed with apps or telemedicine practices.
For instance, rather than waiting for regularly scheduled checkups, some patients are able to take their own blood pressure and report it to their doctor using a mobile app. This is done through a process called computerized provider order entry (CPOE). Some doctors are wary of this practice, which has inspired conversations about the trustworthiness of patients. But it could be incredibly helpful for those with limited means of transportation or who rely on a caretaker.
AI is able to operate with expert precision and analyze patients in a way that doctors have never been able to. For instance, AI can accurately detect skin cancer. In the past, doctors would have to determine this from dermoscopic images. AI is able to analyze patients and provide a more accurate result. This advancement could have incredible consequences for cancer prevention.
Better Institutional Management
On a more organizational level, informatics systems have helped hospitals better manage their day-to-day activities. The overall financial and managerial components of a healthcare facility are being automated and organized by well-engineered data systems. Everyone from chiefs of staff to nurses are having their roles transformed by it.
Of course, these data systems have their downsides. Hospitals are prime targets for cyberattacks. This is because their databases contain a large amount of personal and financial information, making them hotbeds for identity theft. Thus, it is vital that all hospitals enact solid cybersecurity measures in compliance with HIPAA regulations. After all, identity theft could ruin somebody’s life.
But even with these concerns, informatics have sharpened record-keeping and reporting systems within medical institutions. Electronic medical record (EMR) systems have become commonplace in facilities around the country. EMRs are databases of patient information, equivalent to paper records used in the past, and they’re useful for watching patients over extended periods of time. This allows for better care and eliminates widespread confusion.
New Informatics Tech On The Horizon
Some say that robots working in healthcare signify a new age of medical technology, and we can expect to see even more progress like this in the coming years. Data is being used in new ways to save lives, and progress by informatics professionals is key to continuing this. We may see this in how CPOE systems continue to develop in their abilities, combined with the popularity of telemedicine.
Additionally, informatics will continue to offer doctors better ways to communicate with patients and each other via images. Visualization is a trending topic within data right now and is extremely useful in communicating technical subject matter. Image processing tools, as well as automated graphs and charts, are expected to improve and find more use. We can also expect a greater focus on population health within organizations. This would involve using analytics to understand how whole communities are affected insularly, especially in a hospital’s nearby vicinity.
These developments are representative of where informatic practices seem to be headed. We can expect further improvements in healthcare through this technology. Given the healthcare industry’s willingness to adopt these innovative new approaches to care, the future looks promising.