The global healthcare industry is in the middle of a technological revolution. Not just in terms of health research and treatment — although innovations in those fields are also happening at unprecedented speeds — but also in the application of new technologies to the everyday practice of medicine itself. These tools might not always directly cure a disease or heal an injury, but they do help to improve the overall quality of care that patients receive.
Widespread healthcare industry adoption of these new, technology-driven solutions couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s no secret that healthcare costs have been on the rise for decades, creating a situation where cost-efficiency matters almost as much as the quality of care. In an industry where every technology investment can have literal life-and-death consequences, it’s essential to stay head of the curve.
In this article, we’re taking a look at four big tech trends in the healthcare industry. These trends are already shaping long-term planning for hospitals and other healthcare providers, allowing for the development of entirely new ways to promote health, reduce costs, and improve treatment for millions of patients.
It’s almost impossible to overstate just how much medical data is generated every year by the healthcare industry. By some estimates, the total volume of data generated by the medical industry — billions upon billions of individual data points — doubles roughly every three months. It’s the definition of “Big Data.” Making sense of this flood of information is simply impossible without the right technology.
To the human eye, this kind of data looks like an endless and chaotic sea of numbers. To artificial intelligence and machine learning systems, however, these countless data points often reveal hidden connections and correlations that even the dedicated researchers might miss. For example, AIs can be better at diagnosing certain illnesses than trained specialists, recognizing the problem just by analyzing the patient’s data in the form of test results. The applications for AI and machine learning in medicine are almost limitless, allowing for everything from the rapid identification of new medications to the development of targeted treatment plans.
Most healthcare software isn’t designed to be particularly user-friendly or intuitive. It’s always been seen as a purely functional kind of technology, with the same design sensibilities as software created for the banking or insurance industries. As a result, most healthcare software requires extensive training to be used at all. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
By creating software with a focus on improving the user experience (UX), today’s developers are helping to end the days of obtuse, arcane healthcare technology design. This can be as simple as improving the patient experience by streamlining and simplifying the UX common tools, such as the medical provider’s customer relationship management (CRM) solution. This easier-to-use design both reduces training costs and human error, resulting in an improved patient experience overall.
Not every check-in with a doctor needs to be an in-person, in-office visit. In many cases, a brief conversation over FaceTime or Zoom delivers just as much medical benefit as a traditional face-to-face experience. This is particularly true for patients in rural areas, where access to specialists comes with the added time and expense of travel. The same is true for elderly and disabled patients, who often face real hardships and challenges just to attend their medical appointments.
By creating the infrastructure to support on-camera consultations, telehealth and telemedicine is allowing patients to receive a higher quality of care overall. It’s much easier for a doctor to follow up after a treatment, or for the provider to “squeeze in” an unscheduled call with a patient who has an urgent question or concern. This approach also helps to free up in-demand resources, further reducing costs for both patients and providers. When you add in the capability to integrate your Zoom calls with your CRM, it’s even easier to keep up-to-date notes on a patient’s health.
One of the most impactful advancements in medical technology is the standardization of Electronic Health Records (EHR). By moving away from the antiquated, paper-based record-keeping tools of the pre-digital era, healthcare providers have been able to completely modernize their approach to patient care. Today’s cloud-based EHR solutions also allow patients to have better access to their own records, and to more meaningfully participate in their own care. That said, EHR solutions are only as valuable and useful as their integrations with other healthcare software.
By connecting an EHR solution to a CRM, for example, it becomes much easier to automate patient communications, dramatically reducing staffing costs for the healthcare provider. EHR/CRM integrations can also provide valuable reporting and analytics insights that EHRs alone aren’t able to generate. This EHR/CRM combination is just one possible EHR integration out of dozens, each of which allow for their own unique benefits to both patients and providers.
The healthcare industry is only just starting to see the benefits of today’s technology in a larger medical context. As new healthcare technologies and trends emerge in the coming years, we’ll almost certainly see some truly unprecedented changes and advances in the field.
Staying on top of these trends isn’t easy, and it’s not always clear how to best make use of these new technologies, especially with HIPAA compliance. Faye can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.