Demand for improved healthcare facilities is increasing worldwide supported by various advancements in technology. Providers are mainly relying on transitioning to newer technologies and health systems in order to enhance their presence in the market. Cloud computing, nanotechnology and smartphone accessibility are rapidly being integrated with healthcare services to improve patient outcomes.Use of electronic health records (EHR) is increasing realizing the benefits of this highly ubiquitous system.
Increasing pressure to reduce healthcare costs is also one of the key drivers for the growing importance of information technology in the healthcare sector. For example, hospitals use IT systems not only to archive patient files but also to optimize processes, supply systems, and communications. “In Germany, cost pressures have created huge demand for IT solutions that make internal processes and procedures more efficient or that improve income by optimizing billing systems,” explains Bernhard Calmer, Chairman of the Bundesverband Gesundheits-IT (bvitg), an organization that represents the interests of the German IT sector in healthcare.
A large amount of data is collected through diagnostic imaging that needs to be stored securely at one place to allow easy access when required. That is where interoperability among systems and even facilities becomes crucial. A seamless healthcare IT system will establish a cohesive workflow for the providers and patients. All faculties using healthcare IT systems need to abide by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Telemedicine to Increase Access in Remote Areas
Advent of telemedicine is set to transform the way healthcare services are delivered to patients. This technology is helping patients in remote areas to connect with healthcare providers and experts located in the nearest town or city. Telemedicine is a huge success in the western world, owing to major investments made in developing the required infrastructure. On the other hand, lack of infrastructure in developing economies is hindering implementation and adoption of telemedicine. This technology can help provide consultation and even treat patients remotely.
Multimedia enhanced radiology reporting (MERR) allows correlating images to text reports. This technology helps clinicians save time in understanding report findings with supporting images. Clinicians can easily access images while monitoring the progression of the condition. A study, published in 2015, by Emory University and the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute found that 79% of respondents (doctors) indicated an increased likelihood of recommending peers use facilities offering MERR.
Also, wider adoption of cloud technologies by the healthcare service providers is an emerging trend observed in the market. Radiology is being integrated with cloud-based systems that provide easy access to reports and findings. While initial cost of implementing these systems is high, the process efficiency, paying for only what the organization needs, and long-term cost savings are making the cloud a worthwhile investment.
Robotic surgery is another booming area of performing operations in hospitals. Robotic surgery allows doctors to perform complex surgeries with high precision and flexibility. Other benefits include faster recovery, shorter hospital stay, less pain and bleeding, smaller scars and less risk of infection. Robots are used for hysterectomies, joint replacements, removal of fibroids, prostate surgery, open-heart surgery and kidney surgeries. However, due to its high operating costs, robotic surgeries are beyond reach for most hospitals.
Picture archiving and communication system (PACS) helps healthcare professionals store and manage patients' medical images. PACS are integrated in the main hospital workflow system, making it easy for clinicians to refer to the records when required.
Today’s changing healthcare landscape places an urgent emphasis on improving the quality of patient care and reducing overall costs in health facilities. Adoption of new technologies would play a major role in achieving this. Also, with increasing usage of health IT systems, demand for data analytics is also expected increase in order to achieve operational efficiency and provide better health outcomes.
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