The Future of Healthcare Technology (Because Covid-19)
Over the past 40 years, healthcare technology has been on a steady climb in advancements. It has proved its importance even in the last few months. Due to Covid-19, these advancements have made great strides in research towards effective vaccinations and accurately tracking the massive number of cases that we broadcast on television. Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Telehealth/Telemedicine are paving a new and efficient way for healthcare providers to better track, share, and organize information for both patients and other physicians.
Health Information Management (HIM) has been common practice in America for nearly a century. Recently, paper medical charts have become outdated because of the clear advantages of having an EHR program. The benefits of improved EHR programs include enhanced and personal patient to person interactions, organized patient data within reach, and up-to-date records. This leads to the more practical use and distribution of information, fewer medical errors, and studies of other diseases.
The most dominant benefit of a well-functioning EHR system is the improved patient-provider communication. Quicker health record availability grants more time for the physician to spend with the patient. Not only does this save time, but access to a patient's medical charts provides the physician with the ability to better locate and examine the patient's needs. EHR also adds an instant and smoother capability to update and adjust patient records and better information availability.
With patient information readily available from nearly anywhere and anytime, healthcare providers can better manage, distribute, and assess patient information from doctor to doctor. This can cut the lag time between a visit from a primary care physician to a specialist, getting the patient the proper care at a much faster rate.
Another advantage of more intelligent healthcare technology is studying large amounts of patient data to prevent and better treat diseases. This asset demonstrates its use within the pandemic. Due to the unanticipated symptoms of COVID-19, HIM and large-scale data studies of diagnosed individuals helps give physicians more knowledge on the historic virus and how to treat it.
Healthcare providers utilize the practice of telehealth/telemedicine now more than ever. Now combined with an EHR system, healthcare providers can deliver quicker diagnoses with up-to-date information easily accessed from mobile devices and computers. According to Nathan Eddy of healthcareitnews.com, physicians' telehealth use has increased dramatically over the past two years. In 2018, telehealth use was only at 18% and is now used among half of the practicing physicians in the United States.
THE FUTURE FROM THE LENS OF COVID-19
Keeping COVID-19 in mind, there is less crowding in emergency rooms and medical offices, prohibiting the spread of the contagious virus. Telemedicine allows for a quicker and safer way for primary care doctors to refer patients to the correct specialized doctors, speeding up the referral process. Through the utilization of FaceTime, Google Chat, and Zoom, along with EHR programs' organization and availability, doctors can now meet with patients more often. This convenience is more than appreciated.
There is still more to come for EHR technology in the future. The ability to be informed on recommended healthcare practices instantaneously through Artificial Intelligence (AI) is pending. Online chatting with an AI system can give patients instant answers to less severe issues. Also, AI systems can provide better security from potential hackers, given the large amounts of data they can access. Telehealth technology will improve through faster internet speeds and better connection ability. Even virtual reality is being implemented in healthcare to make hospital visits more comfortable for patients.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has accelerated the movement towards Electronic Health Records and telehealthcare. Luckily, the U.S. was already in the process of adapting to these changes. The only real drawbacks of EHR and telehealth are the transitional period from paper medical charts to digital and the vulnerability of being hacked. The benefits of more technology in healthcare do outweigh the risks. Advancements in these aspects strive to make this adjustment period as smooth as possible and secure patient information. These technological healthcare improvements make the highly contagious and masked symptoms of the coronavirus easier to contain. Visiting a physician without the risk of spreading or catching the virus has dramatically helped slow down the spread. Access to medical records without leaving home for healthcare providers and patients has significantly improved the organization's healthcare system, availability, and accuracy for the future to come.