How Proper Technology Management Empowers Healthcare Staff to Give Patients the Best Care Possible
In the world of modern-day medicine, it’s not enough to allocate part of a hospital or clinical budget to technology, and plug in an assortment of new machines. Indeed, it takes proper technology management to empower healthcare staff to give patients the best care possible, under such auspices of professionally-guided IT deployment.
Healthcare changes dramatically because of technological developments, from anesthetics and antibiotics to magnetic resonance imaging scanners and radiotherapy. Future technological innovation is going to keep transforming healthcare, yet while technologies (new drugs and treatments, new devices, new social media support for healthcare, etc.) will drive innovation, human factors will remain one of the stable limitations of breakthroughs. No predictions can satisfy everybody; instead, this article explores fragments of the future to see how to think more clearly about how to get where we want to go.
Technology is Driving Healthcare into the Future
Technology drives healthcare more than any other force, and in the future, it will continue to develop in dramatic ways. While we can debate the details of future trends in healthcare, we need to be clear about the drivers so we can align with them and actively work to ensure the best outcomes for society as a whole.
If a time-traveling physician from a century ago was able to attend a modern post-mortem and listen in on a discussion of human error, very little would be surprising, likely. Clinicians would still be in denial, lawyers would still be hovering, and the delay and deny culture would be no surprise. However, the changes that would surprise the physician are all changes in technology: Infusion pumps, dialysis machines, antibiotics, heart valves, MRI scanners, even hand washing stations would be new ideas. All the hidden technology used in the laboratories behind the scenes, from path labs to decontamination, would be startlingly new.
Although the medical culture is similar, there have been dramatic technological changes, and actually, these changes would be hard to explain. Does anybody even know how an infusion pump works? They used to be clockwork (and before that, gravity fed) and now almost everything contains a computer and has a color screen and lots of buttons. Implanted defibrillators that use telephone networks and websites to keep cardiologists up to date with their patients are just magic; new pharmaceuticals that change moods, change blood pressure, or kill bacteria: all are modern magic. On reflection, given the centuries of stability, it is amazing how much healthcare has changed in the last 150 years – and one wonders how this accelerating pace of change will proceed in the future.
Global Data Systems (GDS) of Boston, MA has some good ideas where healthcare information technology should go. Our versatile and industry-leading technology management solutions allow healthcare providers to give the best patient care possible.
To wit, it’s now possible to custom make titanium implants the right shape and size to fit. Going further, it is widely predicted that custom drugs will be manufactured, customized to the patient’s disease and genetic makeup. While this seems to be enormously beneficial to patients, there are dangers.
For example, a customized drug may be very effective, but its side effects will be unique to the patient too, and therefore harder to diagnose and manage. Personal healthcare has an interesting technological imperative. If we can personalize healthcare, practitioners get access to larger markets: instead of selling to clinicians, manufacturers can sell to individuals – a market thousands of times larger.
Proper technology management via GDS can keep you on the far less risky side of scenarios such as this.
Dealing with Big Data
Patients generate huge amounts of information – patient records – from X-rays to blood test results. Replacing paper with computerized summaries makes patient care easier and more efficient. In the future, the quantity of information will increase dramatically because of genomics (and the huge genomics of our symbiotic bacteria) and personalized medicine, and as more patient data is collected, more insights will become available.
If computers collect data on patient illness, treatments, and outcomes, one automatically obtains valuable information on the effectiveness of those treatments or relations between side effects and patient characteristics across whole populations. Huge amounts of data will be collected, hence the term “big data”.
Once the infrastructures have been set up, though, the incremental cost of adding one new patient will be essentially nothing, and this economy of scale will drive further technical developments. Epidemiologists will benefit enormously from this area of technology management, but the benefits to individuals are less obvious, except in the long run from big data’s contribution to the progress of medical science more generally.
We Help Facilitate Transformational Technology Management
There is a vast range of significant healthcare technological breakthroughs likely on their way. Consider nano health, brain implants, artificial organs, networked sensors, genomics, exoskeletons … just a few of the potentially transformative developments already underway. Some of these technologies are going to transform our whole approach to illness and health – in the same way, that the nineteenth-century development of anesthetics changed society’s moral approach to pain.
Pain and suffering used to be inevitable; now we like to think we have a right to painless procedures – and in turn, this has influenced everything, from our treatment of patients to our treatment of animals (Why should animals suffer? is a very modern question). New technologies, like nano health, are going to have ethical implications that will be hard to anticipate. Sometimes ethical issues will be hard to negotiate because they will be apparent only after somebody has got things working and already has a business-driven perspective.
GDS can help you make technological sense out of all of it and leverage the best uses of technology. For example, Our Healthcare Information Technology professionals have worked closely with experts within the healthcare industry in the development of innovative EHR Archival solutions. We have heard the stories of wasted time and money in dealing with legacy electronic medical record systems and have developed the GDS Chart Viewer solution to address this need in your practice elegantly.
Security, Privacy, and Monitoring
In a world beset with major security concerns (like ransomware, aka cyberterrorism) it is inevitable that all technologies, even in healthcare, will be aligned with national priorities. For example, taking patients’ fingerprints and other biomedical identifiers will become easier (perhaps driven by consumer finance, such as credit card security); and, as it becomes easier, gathering data for state security will happen as a side-effect of routine clinical practice. The state will be able to identify illegal immigrants and outlaws and others; the current notion of patient confidentiality will be eroded in a way that will be impossible for clinicians to control.
Today we may think this would be objectionable, but it is useful to remember that we happily divulge all sorts of personal information during our use of mobile phones, credit cards, as well as during our use of the internet. We unthinkingly sacrifice our privacy because of the huge convenience of buying stuff on the internet. It seems to make losing our identities a trivial price to pay.
When considering future healthcare trends, we can expect similar trade-offs; it will be easy to slide into levels of surveillance we do not now like, falling for it because of the healthcare benefits we want. Surveillance is not the only downside of course – paying data rights owners; paying software licenses; signing off responsibilities for insurance liabilities – all happen and are often signed off without sufficient thought.
It is increasingly fashionable to collect data about patients and the quality of patient care. This information can be aggregated and help discover variation in treatment and outcomes, and hence help improve quality – which is good. On the other hand, data inevitably distances the manager from the patient as an individual: perhaps the fundamental notions of patient care will lose out to organizational or state concerns, because of cost of technology management and security, not care, becomes to be the point of the information.
[Source credit: US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health]
Healthcare Technology Management: A Forte of Global Data Systems
It’s clear that technology is giving the healthcare industry a much-needed upgrade, from medical translation tools to mobile apps that help patients live healthier lives. Though much is still in the early and experimental stages, the advances in technology will save money in health care costs and improve patient treatment.
Patients who can connect with their doctors more easily, for instance, won’t need to make expensive and perhaps unnecessary trips to the ER or specialists. Doctors will be able to collaborate with other physicians and experts in new ways and use computers to analyze patient and medical data, allowing them to provide better and more effective treatment for their patients. As technology continues to expand the horizons of medicine and medical interaction, it’s becoming clear that we’re entering a new era of healthcare — or as some people are beginning to call it, Health 2.0.
As part of the process of implementing better healthcare technology management policies, the National Center for Biotechnology Information recommends that all institutions in the health research community that are involved in the collection, use, and disclosure of personally identifiable health information (PII/PHI) should take strong measures to safeguard the security of health data.
For example, healthcare facilities should or could:
- Appoint a security officer or compliance manager responsible for assessing data protection needs and implementing solutions and staff training.
- Make greater use of encryption and other techniques for data security.
- Include data security experts on IRBs.
- Implement a breach notification requirement, so that patients may take steps to protect their identity in the event of a breach.
- Implement layers of security protection to eliminate single points of vulnerability to security breaches.
We can advise you on these suggestions and all aspects of healthcare technology management.
Interested in Healthcare Technology Management That Expedites Better Patient Care?
If so, just give us a call at (888) 849-6818 or email us at info@GDSConnect.com and we will advise you on how to start getting the best healthcare technology management services from a leading Boston IT consulting company that intimately understands the relationship between technology and the optimum patient care experience.