By Marie Fincher, content director, TrustMyPaper.
It began in the 1980s with those wonderful word processors. Electric typewriters bit the dust, and health records could be entered and saved on floppy discs. This was only the beginning.
We’ve come along way, baby. As technology came to disrupt every sector of the economy, healthcare was no exception. Consider all that has happened in this sector and where we are today.
Consolidated health records in the cloud
Anyone who has been to a doctor recently understands this. That doctor may have your entire health history, from multiple providers, all in one place. This technology allows any provider to provide better care protocols according to each individual’s unique history and make recommendations for testing, etc. that will not be duplicating those already done.
Patients can also access their full health histories and provide access to family members as well. This allows more control of patients over their own healthcare and allows them to make better decisions for future care.
Use of big data for treatment protocol decisions
Now that providers have access to health data from all over the globe, they can review research studies, identify effectiveness based on specific symptoms, DNA makeups, and more. The net effect is this: research from all over the world is now available through tools that gather data, churn it, categorize it, and provide reports based on specific queries. Ultimately, better care for all can occur because of this shared data. Amy Castello, a healthcare writer for Trust My Paper, says this: “I conduct a lot of research on a number of healthcare topics. One of the most interesting is the strides that have been made in the use of big data. I see a future of customized care solutions that
Use of AI and machine learning to identify and predict disease outbreaks
When artificial intelligence is applied to bag data gathering, environmental conditions can be analyzed for their contributions to disease outbreaks. Likewise, when there are higher than average disease conditions among certain demographics or in certain geographical areas, AI can analyze data and report common characteristics that may be contributing to those outbreaks.
Development of vaccines
Every year, a number of medical reporting organizations isolate the specific viruses that have resulted in flu outbreaks. All of this information is then physically reported during a consolidated meeting, and decisions are made for the next vaccine composition. Now, all of the data can be digitally reported, and the recommended vaccine compositions determined by the use of artificial intelligence. Ultimately, this can serve to reduce some of the human “guesswork” that now occurs.
A decade ago, patients had to travel to their doctors’ offices for regular checks on chronic conditions. Now, wearable devices provide ongoing data electronically, so that patients are monitored from home, with alerts to their doctors when conditions change that they might warrant an office visit or hospitalization. Getting real-time data of this sort not only increase efficiency of care but results in lower costs for both providers and patients.
Remotely directed surgical procedures and telemedicine
New surgical procedures are continually developed. Doctors read about them, watch videos, and often see some new development as a perfect procedure for a patient. Having the developing surgeon on video chat to assist with the procedure ensures that all goes well.
Telemedicine also enables medical providers to consult with patients and other providers in rural areas, where access to treatment centers and hospitals is limited.
The security challenge – Is blockchain the answer?
Health records are a prime target for cybercriminals, for two reasons. One, they usually have far less security in place than other sectors do; two, health records hold all of the personal information necessary to steal identities. Hackers are not interested in health records per se, but they can hold those records for ransom. As electronic storage of health records increases, so do the chances of breaches. One promising new technology is blockchain. Records are stored in secure and immutable “blocks,” with access permission granted only to those who are provided key codes.
New technology seems to be developing at the speed of light. The implications for healthcare are enormous and can only mean improvements in healthcare for all.