One thing people love to think about is the great technology that scientists of the future will develop. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a series of French artists drew paper cards that envisioned what the world would look like in the year 2000. Among other things, these postcards portray schoolchildren being taught by a machine that’s being stuffed with books, a fully mechanized orchestra at the opera, and no shortage of flying machines. They look very goofy, but actually aren’t too far off: in the 115+ years since these were created we’ve developed the Internet, iTunes, and airplanes. The point of this, however, is that people love to envision what future technologies will look like. I recently read a post on the “Healthcare Guy” blog, discussing what innovations the author thinks will shape the healthcare industry in 50 years. Of course, the article was written several years ago, but still, a lot of the trends they’re discussing remain relevant.
In the first 50 years of computing, we’ve been digitizing plenty of aspects of human activity, such as administration, engineering, finance, news, literature, and retail. These have made life infinitely more efficient, but in the next 50 years we should be able to digitize biology through genomics, chemistry through early detection systems, and physics through improved simulations. If this sounds far-fetched, it’s already happened. For example, search engines already offer a “Dr. Google”, but in the future tech will make medical knowledge even more accessible to the average patient without even having to book an appointment.
The author of the post outlined a few other ideas for what the world of healthcare technology will look like. There are a couple of points they argued that are pretty feasible: the upcoming decades, for example, improved technology will be able to drastically reduce the margin of error in research, and machines will be able to recognize and diagnose ailments with astounding accuracy. Improved diagnostics can also be used to create significantly improved therapeutics, even personalized drugs. There could be, the author argues, advanced diagnostics capabilities of genetics and proteomics that will be able to create artificial body simulators, allowing researchers to more accurately understand the side effects of drugs, and possibly eliminate the need of animal testing.
A lot of this sounds farfetched for sure, and ultimately in the end imagining what technology will look like is a lot different from actually making that technology will look like. But at the same time, think about how far technology has gone in the past 20 years. The idea of a cell phone, let alone one with ready access to the Internet and a whole other slew of services, was pretty amazing. Even social media, which has completely revolutionized our lives today, didn’t even exist. And when you consider that, such technological advances don’t seem nearly as far away.
But what about risks? Most likely the biggest will be centered around regulations, privacy, and security. With technology developing at such a rapid pace, developing regulations based around the industry, let alone ones that can stay relevant in the face of various technological advances, will be tough. Even now, the questions about security are raising major issues, and security breaches pose potentially disastrous consequences. In the future, as more and more aspects of our everyday lives become digitized, these breaches will be that much more damaging, and will need to be controlled. But these technological advances have huge potential, and if these potential issues can be handled, then the future looks bright.
We are anticipating quite a year in the world of health care. Reenita Davis writes in Forbes, “technology will continue to flourish and will have unprecedented impact on healthcare in terms of building some of the foundation blocks towards a connected home and healthcare ecosystem.”
What can we expect in the coming months?
A New King: The Consumer
Technology will thrive as it continues to impact the foundation blocks. A more connected home and tech ecosystem must address the needs of the people using this technology; the consumer. After all, consumers are the ones who are being treated in the health care industry.
The economic downturn and recession tightened regulatory oversight over the past five years. Early-stage companies in the healthcare industry anticipate new streams in funding for healthcare technologies as the global economy improves.
Blockchain technology is a permanent record of online transactions or exchanges. It emerged in 2009 as the foundation for trading the digital currency bitcoin. The resources have serious potential to tackle some of the most difficult battles in healthcare information management.
AI-enabled support tools help make clinical decisions support all over the health care world. In 2017, AI will participate in diagnostic imaging by assisting radiologists with advanced interpretation and imaging informatics supports.
Pressure from around the globe on the control of surging drug prices will influence health authorities to increase transparency. From both public voices and political entities suggest transparency around drugs pricing where more low-cost generic competition is gaining market acceptance.
Christine Kern writes in Health IT Outcomes, “91 percent of respondents say they take advantage of mobile apps when offered, and 80 percent actually prefers mobile to a traditional office visit.” Healthcare organizations must have an agile operating model to keep pace with today’s technological needs.
If you look at the retail and banking industries, consumers eagerly use their phones and are eager to use technology. When it comes to change, health care would greatly benefit from learning how to adapt to these new technologies.
Jiea Rutland Simpson lives in Harlingen, Texas with experience in the hospital system and developed her interest in the use of electronic medical records within the healthcare industry. Follow Jiea Rutland Simpson on Twitter, @jiearutlandsimp and on Tumblr, @jiearutlandsimpson
How do you define a miracle?
Some people cite the works of God. Others emphasize the simple luxury of waking up everyday to the sun rising over the horizon is a miracle. Being able to breathe and think as a human being, is a small miracle often overlooked.
Today, there are modern miracles that make the lives we lead possible. Healthcare has progressed in exponential ways in the past few decades. Now, with the influence of computers and data technology, healthcare information stimulates miracles for individuals everyday.
Say you go to the ER for a bleeding ulcer. First you will interact with EMT responders who take notes of your condition. Then you will be taken care of ER nurses, who hook you up to IVs and various machines. Then you will be seen by doctors, internists and GI specialists who address your situation and prescribe you various medication. There is always risk for error with so many actors. Healthcare information technology is expanding in its speed, expertise, and overall power, but the biggest challenge we contend with is how all of the spheres connect.
Marc Andressen recently reflected in a Vox.com article that healthcare is a sector with “insufficient productivity growth, innovation, and disruption. You’ve got monopolies, oligopolies, cartels, government-run markets, price-fixing. If healthcare and healthcare technology are not evolving at the pace of other industries, healthcare information technology is getting incredibly close.
Dave Levin writes in Healthcare Informatics that we need platforms like interoperability (and open APIs) to unleash the breadth and depth of innovation that HIT needs. By conn ecting separate islands of powerful health data networks, healthcare professionals will be able to build powerful IT ecosystems.
We need miracles. And we’re going to need more. We can harness our technology with the power to help us.
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There’s a lot of data out there.
Consider every person who goes into the doctor office on a given day; the information they provide to their specialist, that’s data. The observations recorded through laboratory research, that’s data. Processing in a hospital’s emergency room. More data.
Traditional methods for managing health data simply do not suffice for the numbers we deal with today. Given the value of healthcare data, new approaches to managing this data are essential.
So this September, a task force from the Department of Health and Human Services, launched a panel to address the threat of cyber attacks to healthcare information, now that so much data is stored online.
Experts from a range of expertise, such as providers, payers, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, IT vendors, government agencies, as well as a patient advocate, provide an opportunity to have well-rounded discussions about the future of health care data.
There are multiple topics to be addressed. The panel will review the challenge of securing networked medical devices and other software or systems that connect to an electronic health record. They will provide information about the explaining cybersecurity threats to the healthcare, and they will establishing a plan to create a single system for the federal government to share actionable intelligence regarding cybersecurity threats. That the healthcare industry have a real-time solution to these threats for no fee is of utmost importance.
According to Theresa Meadows, co-chair of the Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force and CIO of Cook Children’s Health Care System, it will report to Congress on its findings and recommendations early next year.
“Today, there’s not a good mechanism for sharing information when cybersecurity issues occur,” she says.
“Usually what happens is we hear through word of mouth or we see it in the media, but we don’t really know what the cause was and so there’s no way for us to be proactive in preventing these things in our organizations.”
The best health care information management must work with leaders in technology and government to protect against cyber threats and make digital organizing accessible for everyone in the industry. Hopefully, this panel sheds some light on the future and possibility of health care data!