How Technology Can Improve Healthcare
- 04 Jul
Technology needs to be invested in if it is to help improve healthcare with data sharing, analytics and developing digital practices as a way to improve it's delivery.
One of the biggest recent improvements has been the digitisation of patient records for the NHS, which has had a big impact on care quality. This is because it can speed up patient care and can enable staff to work more efficiently, as well as helping to solve the long lasting problem of data sharing between departments, which is always widely criticised for mistakes and problems that occur from this.
Technology is also vital for the immersement of big data and telecare in the NHS, which are vital ways of cost cutting for the future, although they require a big investment. This investment is necessary for healthcare to reap the benefits of our growing technology, but in a system full of cuts as the NHS is it will be difficult.
However, the theoretical benefits that would come from improving the service, both in quality of care and in the amount of money it requires to be continuously put in, far outweigh the cost.
Digitisation has the potential to simplify the working lives of healthcare professionals, reducing time spent on administrative tasks and trawling through paperwork.
The problems arise when you face up to the challenge in individual trusts, where in many cases the storage system for patient records consists of rooms of filing cabinets rather than a sophisticated IT system capable of coping with a fast-growing maelstrom of digital information.
There's another phenomenon that looks set to have a hugely transformative impact on the NHS - big data.
Partnerships are emerging that aim to use big data technologies and techniques to create a platform capable of revolutionising the management of chronic health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, pulmonary conditions and cardiovascular disease. This can happen in a number of ways:
- through the use of predictive analytics set across multiple datasets in real-time;
- through the delivery of stratified medical pathways, drawing on patient, environmental, social and genetic data to anticipate treatment pathways;
- through the correlation, analysis and interpretation of telehealth, telemetry and genomic data to treat disease pre-emptively.
These are not new to the health service or medicine. The difference now is the leap in technology that allows big data to be mined quickly and displayed to a variety of stakeholders and providers along an integrated care pathway and across health and social care, virtually in real time.
This will literally change the way in which medicine is practised. It also helps make faster connections between operational and frontline staff; back-office staff planning resources; and senior management reviewing performance.
In the future, a doctor could reliably prescribe treatment for disease that isn't due to manifest for 20 years. He or she could give you a treatment pathway that sees you fit and healthy a day quicker than your colleague or classmate, struck with the same symptoms but with a different genetic or social context.
Image source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1368998
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