Emerging IT Health Care TrendsBrandi Brown King University Abstract Information technology has contributed to the rapid transformation in healthcare over the last decade
Emerging IT Health Care TrendsBrandi Brown
Information technology has contributed to the rapid transformation in healthcare over the last decade. There is no doubt medical practices that utilize information technology are undeniably sweeping the nation’s healthcare market. With new technological advances, comes better and more affordable healthcare. The purpose of this paper is to discuss three emerging trends in healthcare relating to information technology.
Keywords: consumerism, telehealth, 3-D printing, healthcare, information technology
Emerging IT Health Care TrendsEmerging trends in healthcare can be contributed widely to information technology. Healthcare is vastly changing as a result of the increase in technology. The development of technology has directly impacted healthcare and medicine in a positive way. Three areas of emerging technology are telehealth, consumerism, and 3D printing. These relativity new technologies are changing how healthcare is delivered, providing safer environments, allowing patients to become more involved in their own healthcare, and untimely, changing lives. It is important to explore the trends and the mark they are leaving on modern medicine.
To date, telehealth has remarkably grown and continues to do so at an exponential rate. In fact, in 2017 telehealth usage in the healthcare market saw a continual steady rise as its adoption rate grew by 9% (HIMMS Analytics, n.d. para 1). According to HIMMS Analytics (n.d.), the breakdown related to how facilities are currently utilizing telehealth/medicine is as follows:
59.6% are engaging in the hub and spoke model; 47.2% are focusing on patient portals or application-focused patient engagement; 29.2% are offering concierge services in the form of e-visits, online consults, and consumer-oriented consults; 20.3% are utilizing telehealth for remote patient monitoring; and the remaining 12.4% are unsure or are using a different telehealth technology solution. What is more astonishing is that “71% of all healthcare providers are using telehealth and/or telemedicine tools to connect with patients in the inpatient and ambulatory settings” (Beaton, 2017).
Despite these statistics, the utilization and prevalence of telemedicine in obstetrics has historically gained little attention/publicity. “Although telemedicine has been used in the delivery of obstetric care for many years, its use has largely focused on providing specialty care to rural patients whose access to specialists is inadequate” (Pflugeisen ; Mou, 2017, p. 1545). Also, telemedicine is being used with the management of gestational diabetes and targeted enhancement of care for high-risk pregnancies. It is important to note, however, that several other pregnancy-related conditions including postpartum depression, hypertension, and preeclampsia are now seeing an upsurge of effective management with said technologies. Telemedicine in obstetrics is also being used for patient counseling and specialist interpretation of ultrasounds and non-stress tests, a common prenatal screening in which the fetal heart rate is traced to determine fetal well-being.
As of 2017, “all 50 states have developed some time of telemedicine coverage” (“Navigating the Laws,” 2017). Moreover, telemedicine continues to grow at a rapid pace fueled by faster internet connections, the ubiquity of smartphones and personal devices, and new software platforms that connect patients with providers more easily and efficiently. According to some reports, “the number of patients using telemedical services will rise to 7 million in 2018, a figure that is up from less than 350,000 in 2013” (Al-Siddiq, 2018). While some obstetrical-specific diagnoses and conditions are better managed with in-person clinician visits, a plethora of patient issues and services are being successfully handled virtually. From providing check-ins with a patient who was recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes to offering comfort, conversation, and reassurance to a mother suffering from postpartum depression, telemedicine is demonstrating immense potential in the obstetrics sector.
The power of the internet is enabling patients to gain knowledge and be better informed about their health. According to Kaufman (2016), “The internet has provided rocket fuel for people to take control of their health” (para 2). In a similar fashion, the internet has impacted healthcare much like it has retail business. Today, patients can surf the web for a multitude of health-related information. Ganju (2017), points out “Everyone with a computer could now read everything about medicine” (para 3). Websites like WebMD and Google have brought a wealth of information on medical topics straight to the patient without them ever seeing a medical provider. Ganju (2017) states, “All of sudden, myocardial infarction and schizophrenia were not exotic names that only doctors could shed light on” (para 3).
Additionally, medical technologies via the internet are allowing patients more control over their conditions. For example, glucose monitoring can now be done through technology instead of by pencil, paper, and telephone. Kauffman (2017), points out how the Night Scout Project was developed by a parent of a child with Type 1 Diabetes. The parent “created a program to send glucose readings from the device into a cloud, where the parents could assess them from anywhere via their smartphones” (para 3). This technology inspired a group to “develop solutions for diabetes monitoring, including smart phone apps that provide abnormal glucose levels, and a web application and wearable device to display glucose readings” (Kauffman, 2017, para 4).
3-D printing is quickly making its mark on the health care industry with printing labs, prosthetics, medical implants, and customized protective devices. According to Giges (2017), “one of the more immediate emerging trends is the use of 3D printing directly in hospitals” (para 2). Giges (2017) indicates printing labs are focused primarily on “patient-specific models prior to surgery to look at a patient’s specific anatomy” (para 3). This allows surgeons to practice on individualized models prior to doing an actual surgery on the patient which results in better surgical outcomes. According to Giges (2017) “the doctor is better trained, there will be less time in the surgical suite, less time for a patient to be under anesthesia, less time to have patients open to the environment” (para 4).
3D printing is changing lives for individuals needing prosthetics. Whether it be a congenital deformity or due to an accident, individuals are now able to gain limbs due to the technologies of 3D printing. These individuals that were not able to function independently are now able to. The e-NABLE project is a “group of individuals from all over the world who are using their 3D printers to create free 3D printed hands and arms for those in need of an upper limb assistive device” (ENABLE, 2017, para 1). According to ENABLE (2017):
This is where families find hope for their children. Where children and adults who are born missing fingers or who have lost them due to war, disease or natural disaster – can come to find stories of other people who have upper limb differences and who are using 3D printed devices that can help them with daily tasks that are easier to perform with 2 fully functional hands.
In conclusion, emerging information technologies are revolutionizing the health care industry. Telehealth has gained popularity amongst medical professionals and patients. It is being used to treat patients remotely and is providing promising results for the future of medicine. Likewise, consumerism has blossomed with the use of computers and the internet. As a result, patients are becoming more empowered and are taking an active role in their own healthcare. Finally, 3D printing is helping save and improve patient’s lives, which was not a reality just a few years prior. These emerging technologies are making the future of healthcare and medicine bright and promising.
Al-Siddiq, W. (2018). The benefits of telemedicine in remote patient triage. Becker’s Hospital Review. Retrieved from https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/telehealth/the-benefits-of-telemedicine-in-remote-patient-triage.html
Beaton, T. (2017). Telehealth news: 71% of healthcare providers use telehealth, telemedicine tools. Retrieved from https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/71-of-healthcare-providers-use-telehealth-telemedicine-tools
ENABLE. (n.d.). Enabling the future. Retrieved from http://enablingthefuture.org/about/
Ganju, A., (2017). Rise of the empowered healthcare consumer. Retrieved from https://tincture.io/rise-of-the-empowered-healthcare-consumer-85c819f9078e
HIMMS Analytics. (n.d.). Telemedicine usage in inpatient healthcare facilities: A breakdown. Retrieved from https://www.himssanalytics.org/news/telemedicine-usage-in-inpatient-facilities-2017
Kauffman, K., (2017). In the internet economy, patients are taking control of their health care. Retrieved from https://www.hhnmag.com/articles/7286-power-to-the-patients-internet-economy
Navigating the laws and benefits of telemedicine. (2017). Medical Staff Briefing, 27(8), 1-7.
Pflugeisen, B. M., ; Mou, J. (2017). Patient satisfaction with virtual obstetric care. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 21(7), 1544-1551. doi: 10.1007/s10995-017-2284-1