3 Technology Trends that are Revolutionizing Healthcare

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TRH-thumb1Most current healthcare IT news is consumed with the latest reports on electronic health records. But as Kaveh Safavi points out in InformationWeek Healthcare, there are other technologies with which healthcare has yet to fully grapple, such as Internet access, mobile technologies, and social networks. In fact, there are three technology trends that are driving healthcare’s future, he writes:

1.)  Size

Safavi writes, “The sheer scale of digital technology is astonishing. In 2015 alone, the world will produce data equal to 120,000 times the total of all previously written words in history. This data will be generated by exponentially more powerful computing, and then stored in the cloud, to be accessible there from a growing range of devices.”

2.)  Personalization

Think of how people are getting their entertainment these days. Hulu, Amazon, Netflix, and the Internet itself all provide distinct alternatives to traditional television. “All consumer trends point towards greater customization for individual needs,” Safavi writes. Including healthcare.

3.)  Social

The technology that rules our lives is social-based: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.

Safavi observes: “Consumers increasingly create their own content and access what has been created by others. Social networks are not just a place to find friends. They are becoming platforms for content creation, idea sharing, and self-service. Some government agencies and technology companies have even deployed social software platforms for users to take over certain government functions and to provide each other first-level help-desk functions. These networks, not only lower business costs, but also make users feel more engaged and in control, creating a feeling of ownership within the larger organization.”

How will these technology trends apply to healthcare? Once again, he breaks it down into three areas:

1.)  Gaming

Yes, gaming. Think Wii Fit Plus and other health-oriented games that have been released in recent years. This is just a foggy glimpse into the potential that playing games can bring to healthcare, especially since it has been proven that games can enhance cognitive abilities and initiate behavioral change.

2.)  Telehealth

We’ve mentioned this innovation before, yet it’s difficult to fully grasp the scope of the possibilities behind this technology. According to Safavi, “[Telehealth is] not just about meeting the needs of the underserved. It is a means of improving care for the already served. While still providing face-to-face care, telehealth gives each patient access to more than one doctor at a time and can further enhance a patient’s understanding of his or her own health, making the experience more personal.”

3.)  Health-specific social networks

Not only do social networks “help practitioners deliver services” better, but they also “enable patients to play an active role in their care.” Social networks have the following benefits for providers and patients: “By sharing and collaborating with others on similar health experiences and conditions, patients and practitioners build relationships, ask more questions and become, pioneers in the healthcare process.”

As healthcare executives, what technology trends are you eyeing as you look to the future? How do you feel the aforementioned trends will affect healthcare in the future?

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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