There is little doubt that the rapid strides made in the field of medical technology have helped to save millions of lives in recent years, while also improving the quality of life of many more patients, enabling physicians to provide a faster, more effective level of care.
Medical professionals in all fields, including oncology expert Mikhail Blagosklonny, are benefiting from the widespread availability of new medical technologies, and one of the most important areas in which technology has been making an impact is information. Here are some of the ways that health information has benefited.
Health record digitalization
One of the biggest impacts of digital technology has been the creation of electronic health records (EHRs), which have replaced the traditional paper records. There is little doubt that EHR has been a game changer when it comes to many aspects of patient care. A wide range of medical workers from assistants to administration staff to registered nurses have seen their role change fundamentally with the introduction of this new technology.
Technicians and nurses can now add vital patient data, including test results and personal data, into one centralized system, while medical billers and health care coders are able to use the EHR technology to fulfil a range of tasks, including the updating of patient records, submitting medical claims and even making appointments. The overall effect has been to dramatically improve the quality and speed of service that health care providers can offer.
Enhanced patient care
One of the many benefits of EHR technology is that it can rapidly spot any potential issues at an early stage of the diagnostic or treatment process. These include important factors such as intolerances or allergies, and because this information can be accessed by any medical professional in pretty much any secure medical location, doctors are able to carry out potentially life-changing treatment, even in cases where the patient is unconscious.
Improved public health
Another positive impact of EHR has been on public health. By having large quantities of medical data available at the push of a button, clinical researchers are able to more quickly analyze public health problems and develop strategies and treatments. By operating a centralized, standard system across the whole of the health care sector, it is easier for specialists to spot the outbreak of a new bacterial or viral infection, giving them the opportunity to put preventative measures in place more quickly.
Perhaps the biggest impact of the new medical information technology has been on both medical coders and billers, and the arrival of EHR was particularly timely as the number of medical codes has increased from 13,600 to 69,000 in recent years. EHR has enabled medical administration staff to handle the dramatic coding changes and has made their task much simpler. Putting data into a computer system is quicker and easier than using paper methods. It also helps to reduce the risk of errors around patient data, and makes it easier for staff to access records wherever they are, providing a boost to productivity and efficiency.
Reduced health care costs
There is considerable evidence to suggest that the introduction of this new health information technology has helped to reduce costs in the health sector. A study carried out by the University of Michigan has found that by moving from paper-based records to an electronic system, the overall cost of outpatient care has been cut by 3%, which translates to a saving of $5.14 per patient each and every month.
The benefits of big data
“Big data” has become a buzzword in the digital era. It refers to the huge range of data that is collected by modern companies and organizations: data that can then be stored, processed and analyzed to provide useful insights and inform policy. In the case of health care, there is an enormous amount of information generated throughout the sector, and when analyzed, this information can prove immensely valuable in many different areas of health:
- Reduction of health care costs
- The prediction of health epidemics
- Informing strategies to reduce preventable deaths
- Helping patients to improve their quality of life
- Making an impact on health care wastage
- Helping to develop more efficient practices
- Streamlining and improving quality of care
- Informing the development of new drugs and treatments
The information revolution and the rise of new digital technologies have affected many aspects of society and the way that we live and work, and health care is no exception. Improved health care information technology has helped to save lives and improve the quality of the care that is offered to patients, and will have a major role to play in future health care.