What’s ahead for Health information technology

Today’s healthcare IT ecosystem was designed several years ago with a fee-for-service model in mind. With the advancements in technology and the industry’s shift towards a more effective and value based reimbursement models, it is becoming evident that the small incremental updates and modifications won’t be able to keep the healthcare industry afloat amid the ever changing market scenario that depends upon profitability through cost savings. It will eventually leave the healthcare providers struggling with productivity losses and financial uncertainties.

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The reality today is that we live in a mobile and connected world. Patients are increasingly seeking care for different health providers and nurses in many different locations. In order to meet their needs, doctors and nurses must keep up and incorporate more efficient tools to communicate with their patients. In recent years, the Internet, consumer electronics and mobile apps have shown us how to accomplish this.

A way forward to address the many arising issues in healthcare is that there is a need for applications for care providers to securely join a virtual care team for a particular patient from any location using a variety of devices:

  • Depending on their role, they get presented with the patient information that’s important to them with respect to the specific clinical care they provide.
  • They can see how the patient is doing relative to the care plan they jointly manage against.
  • They can see how potential treatments have worked on populations of similar patients with similar disease patterns and see personalized best-practice guidelines based on the latest research results combined with big data analytics.
  • They can easily communicate with other care team members or with the patient, and they can efficiently document and share new information about the care they provide without getting bogged down by administrative, billing or malpractice requirements (those are being handled by service providers accessing the same system remotely — closely collaborating with the care team).
  • Rather than pointing and clicking through complex, template-driven user-interfaces, they conveniently and efficiently narrate their findings in their own words, telling a patient story that is meaningful to the next care provider, yet also accessible to computers through natural language understanding technology.
  • Patients measure their vital signs and can perform basic lab tests at home, using a variety of off-the-shelf add-ons for their mobile devices. This data immediately becomes available to the entire care team and abnormal values automatically initiate corrective action. Patients also manage their health more effectively by monitoring key health indicators and receiving suggestions from their care providers through their device of choice — smart phone, tablet or PC.

Sounds futuristic? Not really. These are not revolutionary new ideas — much of this has been realized in other industries and some of this is emerging already in the form of innovative healthcare applications, particularly in the area of home health monitoring. Healthcare has always been more resistant to change than other industries. Change will come though, accelerated by new regulatory and reimbursement models, and decision makers in hospitals and physician practices are well served looking beyond the capabilities of their current healthcare IT infrastructure.

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