Advances in technology are revolutionizing all aspects of our lives, including how we give and receive health care. According to a recent Forbes article, venture capitalists have recognized the potential technology has to improve our health care experience and have pumped $955 million into new health care technology over the past three years.
Health care technology is doing more than improving the way we diagnose and treat diseases; it’s also bring about improvement in doctor-patient communication, collaboration between physicians and communication between health care professionals and members of their communities. Health care IT is helping experts track medical trends, making treatment more efficient and empowering patients to take more control of their care.
Doctor-Patient Communication Is Easier Than Ever
Advancements in health care technology have made it easier for doctors to communicate with their patients. Translation apps, for example, now allow physicians to better communicate with patients who speak a different language.
Patients can now also consult with their physicians remotely. Video and teleconferencing apps allow patients to ask medical questions and receive advice from their doctors without leaving home. As a result, patients now have more access to qualified specialists. They can avoid unnecessary trips to a clinic or emergency room, saving time and money for all concerned.
Social media networks have allowed health care providers to engage more deeply with the communities they serve. Hospitals, clinics, research facilities and private practices are using social media tools to offer more services to larger groups of people, raise awareness of medical issues, answer questions from patients and reach out to the most vulnerable members of the community. Patients can now go online to confer with their doctors and nurses, see their medical records and get reminders for exams, tests and treatments.
Collaboration No Longer Requires Moving Patients
Once upon a time, seeking experts’ opinions was a laborious chore. It could require moving a patient to a different, more sophisticated facility or asking specialists to travel long distances to evaluate patients in person. Doctors were limited in their ability to collaborate with other professionals.
Email, video and conferencing technologies have changed all that, making it possible for doctors around the globe to collaborate on a single case quickly and easily. Smart devices have given doctors unprecedented access to research, medical texts, patient histories and case studies. Physicians in even the most remote parts of the world can now research, diagnose and treat conditions, and even collaborate with specialists, using nothing more than a smartphone or tablet.
Telemedicine, as it’s called, has proven especially helpful in underdeveloped and rural areas, and in times of crisis. The ability to access all of the world’s medical information from handheld smart devices, and share pictures and video with physicians around the world in real time will perhaps bring the biggest gains to rural, impoverished and underdeveloped areas that, until now, have had limited access to high-quality care.
Patients Are More Empowered
Now that the Internet has brought all of mankind’s collective knowledge to our fingertips, patients are often researching their own medical concerns. Millions of Americans now use the Internet not just to look up their symptoms, but also to learn more about available treatments and medicines. Technology has given us a newfound ability to make informed decisions about our health.
Technology is also helping us live healthier lives. Apps are available to monitor calorie consumption, fitness levels and daily activity; you can even buy apps to help improve your sleep! Never have patients had more healthy-living tools at their disposal.
Search Data Can Predict Medical Trends
A side effect of patients using the Internet to research their medical issues has been that search engines can now put together accurate pictures of medical trends in different regions of the world. While not every person who searches for a condition or a symptom is actually suffering from it, search queries related to a specific set of symptoms or an ailment — like the flu, for example — form a pattern that gives researchers insight into the prevalence of specific diseases around the globe.
Electronic Records Are Making Health Care More Efficient
The federal government has earmarked $29 billion to digitize all medical records, an initiative that is making health care more reliable than ever before in history. Electronic medical records give health care providers instant access to test results, medical histories and treatment orders, so caregivers can now be certain they’re administering the most appropriate and efficient treatments. The information in these databases is also immensely valuable to researchers.
Technological advances are improving access to health care for people around the world and helping doctors and nurses provide better, more efficient health care to their patients. As we continue to make technological strides, health care can only be expected to improve.
About the Author: Jonathan Henderson is a fulltime Blogger who is currently earning his Masters of Social Work online. He enjoys writing about technology, healthcare and emerging medical trends.