Health Care Technology Trends for 2014
With 2014 underway, we continue to see the Affordable Care Act’s evolving rollout and all the changes and adaptations its causes in the marketplace. Running parallel with these changes — and just as worthy of discussion -- are a number of ongoing changes and rising trends in health care technology.
The first we should mention is the Electronic Health Record (EHR), and more so, its evolution. As EHRs have become more affordable and common place (to the point where they are now a necessity in the hospital/physician office), they’ve had such an impact that information can now be exchanged more easily than ever before. The EHR is also now more capable of working with a variety of outside medical applications which allows for more relevant critical information to be captured, recorded and utilized. The result of this leads to more efficient and timely access and input of patient medical information by their providers, thus resulting in quicker, more thorough diagnosis and treatment. Utilization of tablet computers in the exam rooms and laptop/PC terminals outside of hospital rooms speeds up the identification, allocation, and documentation of patient medical information. On the patient side, accessibility to their medical information has also become much easier from almost any device at any location as well all.
Building upon the advancements in EHRs, we should next mention the creation and utilization of medical mobile applications. Accessible and useful through tablets and smartphones, mobile apps enable both providers and patients to quickly attain, review, and share medical information. Examples include applications patients utilize to monitor caloric intake and measure heart rate, to more complex applications to assist in the monitoring of more complex/chronic diseases. Newer applications that are on the horizon are medication adherence apps will help remind patients to ensure their medication routines and intake are met and correct.
Finally, into consideration with all of the easier access to electronic patient health information (ePHI) (an obvious hot button when we consider security breaches in retail and banking—why would health care be any different?), we must next introduce HIPAA security and support. With adhering to HIPAA requirements and maintaining/protecting ePHI becoming more difficult, health information platforms must also continue to evolve. One area to mention due to the utilization of multiple devices to store and access ePHI (mentioned above) is the ability to erase/remove ePHI from devices that have been compromised. Device tracking and wiping is now readily available as a security solution. New security products have been developed and are becoming mainstays in efforts to ensure secure pathways for email, texting and file sharing, as well as videoconferencing.