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Information technology is revolutionizing the healthcare industry, streamlining old processes and integrating data streams to create a more powerful and effective network of care. While some may worry that the rise of technical solutions could overshadow the personal attention necessary to deliver quality care, the truth is the vast majority of the bureaucratic processes involved in providing healthcare will benefit from automation and save consumers money in the long run.
With healthcare IT as the backbone of the modern hospital and doctor’s office, here are five key areas to follow as the sector continues to thrive in 2015:
1. Big Data
At a glance, today’s IT professional knows what’s happening with the machines her hospital employs daily: software credentials, audits and real-time asset management are not only enormous conveniences, they save precious money and time. Additionally, patient records can now be easily scanned with the aid of powerful analytics tools capable of simultaneously monitoring numerous data points, such as blood pressure, cholesterol level and prescription medications, , empowering doctors with real-time updates on a patient’s current health.
The interoperability of hospital data centers means information is not only rapidly transferable but readable and actionable as it migrates from one location to another. Just like smartphone uses standard wireless protocols to connect to different Wi-Fi routers at your home and office, so do different hospitals need uniform processing and coding to make patient data easier to share. As a set of standards comes into practice, the more the distance between the various pharmacies, hospitals and care centers patients visit will shrink. No matter where a patient is, improved interoperability enables them to experience the same level of care anywhere.
3. Health Information Exchanges
The dominance of health information exchanges (HIEs) means intimate, informed care for a patient anywhere in the world. With a patient’s medical information available anywhere, diagnosis quality improves, duplicate testing decreases, and prescription information remains accurate and consistent across the board.
4. Electronic Health Records
The key to improved patient care in 2015 is the ever-evolving electronic health records (EHRs) that are increasingly becoming the standard at all medical facilities. An organized, searchable, indexed record of a patient’s health history is a revolutionary tool that not only improves patient care and the accuracy of a diagnosis, but allows doctors to observe co-occurring health phenomena like never before, enabling unprecedented insight.
While an in-person medical professional is crucial for resolving ongoing physiological conditions and cases of extreme injury (such as broken bones), that pesky headache, stuffy nose or weird stomach pain could be something minor and not worth a drive to the hospital. Telemedicine allows on-the-go diagnoses by healthcare professionals for minor medical issues via the patient’s smartphone, tablet or computer. This frees up valuable waiting room space for busy clinical staff and provides patients with immediate, convenient care.
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