Technology is rapidly changing the way health care is delivered in hospitals and medical practices across the country. There are countless new health IT and patient care developments cropping up regularly, but certain strategies, systems and trends are set to reach a tipping point of adoption and popularity in the coming year.
Here are Power Your Practice’s findings on four of the most unique and interesting healthcare technology trends to keep an eye on in 2012.
Telemedicine (or telehealth) enables physicians to consult and administer clinical care to patients remotely through the use of telecommunication devices.
As healthcare becomes more tech-friendly, the provision of telehealth services is growing more common across the country. According to Hospitals and Health Networks Most Wired 2011 survey, 27% of physician offices and 42% of hospitals already have telemedicine capabilities.
By giving doctors the autonomy to travel freely and still consult with patients, telemedicine has already proven itself to be an empowering technological advancement for physicians. And since it provides easier access to care for individuals with chronic conditions or those in underserved rural areas, “telemed” is a welcome development for patients, as well.
2. Personalized Health Records
Patients frequently undergo tests so physicians can assess various aspects of their personal wellness. In most instances, the health data that’s gauged by those tests is reviewed by a doctor, communicated to the patient, then left to rest in a single provider’s medical record for the patient.
That system, in which individual health data remains siloed in a single provider’s office, is starting to change. The technology that serves the modern medical practice is evolving, enabling the interconnectivity among providers that will allow for the creation of a personalized health record for each patient.
Truly personalized medicine uses molecular and genomic information along with ongoing health assessment data to deliver the most individualized health care possible. Today, the capability for physicians to easily access gene-based data is gaining heavy traction.
In the meantime, the ability for all of a patient’s medical information to be aggregated into a single electronic entity is major a step toward the cultivating the personalized healthcare system of the future.
With more and more physicians adopting interconnected technology and engaging in health information exchange, you may be closer than ever to obtaining your personalized health record in 2012.
Robots have been cropping up all over health care for years, and they’re expected to broaden their footprint even more in 2012. The number of tasks that are already being delegated to robotic systems is immense and significant, and will only grow with time.
Surgical systems like Da Vinci Si HD perform precise, miniscule incisions of only 1-2 centimeters on patients, which allows physicians to execute the most minimally invasive procedures possible. Mobile robots like Nursebot help elderly people execute household tasks, which empowers them to avoid injury and lessen their reliance on caregivers. And hospital pharmacies are using systems like IntelliFill i.v. to accurately prepare intravenous drugs for delivery, reducing waste and medication errors.
“As robots become even smaller and developers continue to further integrate the devices with artificial intelligence,” writes InformationWeek’s Alison Diana, “The medical community will continuously expand the ways in which it uses this technology to save patients, improve quality of life and prevent health problems.”
The wealth of diagnostic medical information available online has caused a major shift in the way people deal with getting sick. Largely it’s been good for patients to have tools like WebMD available to help them investigate medical issues and be more educated about their health.
But the downside of that increased awareness is the potential for “cyberchondria.”
In its annual “Big Little Book of Nexts” tech trendspotting report, Euro RSCG defined cyberchondria as “how learning about diseases tends to lead people to think the worst.” They listed it as one of their top five health trends for 2012.
As Euro RSCG noted, “Ordinary consumers don’t have the training to interpret the vast amounts of medical information available online; some react by worrying and bugging their physician unnecessarily.”
Additionally, patients with cyberchondria may self-diagnose and self-medicate their ailments without seeking a physician’s opinion. That can allow serious conditions to go unrecognized until it’s too late.
Euro RSCG noted how Steve Jobs declined to go under the knife for what may have been a life-saving procedure, opting instead to self-treat his cancer with alternative approaches.
Will the publicity surrounding the famous innovator’s death make self-treatment more or less popular? Only time will tell, but Euro RSCG thinks this will be the year that cyberchondria gets out of hand.
What technology trends are you most excited or concerned about for the coming year?Tweet