The Digital Healthcare Revolution: Are You Onboard?

Future generations have a lot to look forward to when it comes to technology in healthcare. Amazing healthcare innovations will allow us to live longer as we discover better ways to treat illness, battle diseases, and discover cures. Scientists will dive even deeper into cells that will change how we deal with health problems forever. No longer will the doctor’s little black bag hold the only key to a healthy population. But fasten your seatbelt for that race to find technological health solutions is already here. And its not just about cures, its about providing better patient care, better administrative processes, and better data protection. Technology in healthcare is the gateway to advancing a better quality of life.

Mind-blowing technology

Many innovations have already made their mark on the world and are making incredible progress in the medical field. Augmented reality (AR), for example, enhances real-world views by overlaying visual elements with digital information, such as 3D models.

Healthcare has welcomed AR, which provides doctors with the ability to visualize muscles, organs, and bones beneath the skin without an operation. The process combines information from computers with MRI and CT scans. For example, in a project involving a global team of over 50 researchers from the United States and China, scientists are looking to battle diabetes through a deeper understanding of how human cells work. To help learn more about the problems associated with how the pancreas produces insulin, the USC Michelson Center team is developing a 3D virtual model of the pancreatic beta cell. Scott Fraser, Ph.D., an imaging and microscopy expert at the center explains, “Redefining the impossible is exactly what modern team science is all about.”

Win-win for patients

But more amazing for some patients who have lost their sight may be the bionic eye. This technological wonder gives them the ability to see by way of camera video signals sent to retina implants. Also incredible is Sedasys, which is a computer connected to a patient’s IV that administers sedatives, monitors vitals, and even wakes up the patient when necessary. There is also a mind-controlled wheelchair. The patient can literally move the chair just by thinking simple commands via a cap inserted on patient’s. Robotics in the operating room are also helping to improve patient care and save lives.

Disruptive issues in healthcare

While technology in healthcare can be innovative, it can also be disruptive. For example, artificial intelligence, often regarded as the “future of healthcare” can pose new challenges as computers, as opposed to doctors, dictate how medical care should be administered. Another disruptive concern involves the internet of things (IoT), which is available through online networks connecting healthcare IT systems with medical devices and applications. According to Holly Buckley in a recent keynote speech at a health conference in Chicago, IoT is vulnerable to security issues so “Providers and developers are really going to have to work on that [aspect of IoT].”

But maybe more surprising is nontraditional companies like Amazon entering the healthcare market. Recently naming Dr. Atul Gawande as Chief Executive Officer of the Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan (ABJ) partnership, Amazon Healthcare is set to “create a new healthcare delivery model.” Apple has also made its mark on the health industry by updating its health app, which allows patients access to their medical records and share the information with health providers.

Securing data

But technology may prove to be risky where personal health data is concerned. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) passed by Congress “to publicize standards for the electronic exchange, privacy and security of health information” will be very important to the development and use of technology, particularly in health apps. Tech companies will need to adhere to these regulations as security gets increasingly messy. A good messy example of this is when smartphone apps storing data at an offsite cloud location. HIPAA only protects patient privacy when such data is shared with healthcare providers. As more and more healthcare providers work with companies that provide such apps, like Apple’s HealthKit, there will be a need for greater accountability to adhere to HIPAA regulations and protect health data.

Leaders and Healthcare

In any event, leaders in the healthcare industry should embrace innovations in all aspects of medical care. Looking at healthcare trends in 2018, Deloitte’s health care leaders recommend an investment in “exponential technologies to reduce costs, increase access, and improve care” as such technologies are making improvements and will redesign medical care on “a global scale.” Look for innovations in “synthetic biology, 3D printing and nanotechnology, and companion diagnostics” to name a few. But keeping up with these new developments will require investments in “electronic patient records, eHealth/mHealth, interoperability, and big data. Organizations should consider strategic investments in people, processes, and premises enabled by digital technologies.”

When Gallup recently asked U.S. adults the “most important problems” facing the country in 2018, healthcare was at the top. Fixing healthcare will be a challenge for leaders now and in the future. Healthcare trends tend to complicate matters for forward thinkers. These trends include the digitization of data and analytics, and the fusion of technological and biological to improve patient care. So, advice to healthcare leaders, “Build your analytics platform today.”

Technology in healthcare benefits everyone

There’s never been a better time to get excited about innovations that will redefine the healthcare industry. With so many hopes for the future, humankind will reap the benefits of an increased quality of life and longevity. But technology in healthcare is today’s reality. The most progressive of leaders will use these new innovations to reshape the industry.

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Posted by Ephraim Arnstein

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