Stretched to its limits by the repercussions of the Pandemic last year, the healthcare industry has been forced to evolve at an unprecedented speed. From catering to less than 20% of hospital occupancy, the healthcare industry was forced to set up mobile stations where professionals could provide critical care to patients that they could not accommodate in hospitals which were filled up to their maximum capacity.
2020 Was a hard year, but the healthcare industry valiantly fought back to beat COVID. As 2021 progresses, healthcare professionals know what they are dealing with and have taken effective countermeasures with numerous healthcare software solutions. And all of this was possible because the healthcare industry has acquired a secret weapon: Information Technology.
Developments driven by tech have saved the lives of countless patients while consistently improving our quality of life. By leveraging software and analytical reports, the healthcare industry can now automate multiple treatment processes, make data-driven decisions and even manage periphery processes such as billing and procurement. With a wide range of innovative solutions bespoke to both community health and acute care, the health care industry has grown from strength to strength over the last year, and here is how.
1. Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
One of the most potent healthcare management software solutions, the advent of EHRs, a massive game-changer for healthcare, has seen paper records completely replaced. From nurses to medical assistants, roles across the healthcare industry can now manage patient data on a centralized digital system. EHRs enable healthcare professionals to update patient records, submit claims to insurance agencies and even manage appointments.
Looking at the patient’s perspective, he/she can easily access his/her records at a touch of a button while the technology ensures that discrepancies are caught easily, and prescriptions are easier to understand, making the code of a Doctor’s handwriting legible(sic.) Some of the many benefits of EHRs are-
- Enhanced Patient Care
An EHR can instantly inform the physician dispensing treatment of potential issues such as the patient’s intolerance to certain medication or even his/her allergies. EHRs are easily accessible from almost every medical facility, making them very valuable for doctors treating patients who are not local. EHRs also are of critical importance in cases where the patient is unresponsive.
- Better Public Health
Clinical researchers find EHRs invaluable, given that they play a pivotal role in advancing medical knowledge while assisting in the development of treatment strategies.
With the standardized health IT system created by EHRs, governing bodies can gather insights on potential outbreaks and launch faster responsive/preventive measures.
- Smooth Workflow
Allied healthcare workers such as coders and medical billers are greatly impacted (in the best sense of the word) by EHRs. The introduction of EHRs now allows billers to input data into a computerized system, which is a lot more functional and less time-consuming than the traditional method of paper pushing. In addition, working with EHRs also reduces the risk of errors in data.
The ability to digitally access patient records allows medical coding experts to work from anywhere they wish to, thus bolstering productivity and enhancing efficiency.
- Lower Healthcare Costs
According to a study, the cost of outpatient care has reduced by 3% because of the shift from paper to EHRs. On average, this amounts to patients saving $5.14 every month. For a hospital in a metro city, this amount is enormous.
2. Big Data and The Cloud
“Big Data” is one of the superweapons of the digital age, and combined with EHRs, its value proposition only increases. When put under analysis, Big Data can offer multiple benefits, some of which are-
- Reduced healthcare costs
- Epidemics predictions
- Minimizing deaths
- Improved quality of life
- Reducing healthcare waste
- efficient and high-quality care
- Developments of new drugs
Healthcare needs to collect and store large amounts of data and therefore requires a cost-effective, extensible and secure storage solution. Enter, The Cloud.
The Cloud uses software and hardware to dispense healthcare services across the internet allowing both professionals and patients access to their data anywhere in the world. Large masses of data can be stored at a very low cost on the Cloud without users having to bother about hardware limitations.
With strong backup and recovery services empowered by equally efficient security protocols, Cloud storage protects against data loss. It also improves the potency of research studies, mobilizes the workforce, and shares relevant big data.
3. Information and Communication Technology
The number of smartphone users in 2021 is 3.8 billion. To connect with people, the healthcare industry has also transformed its processes. ICT or information and communication technology now links healthcare professionals with their counterparts across the globe as well as with patients. Smartphones (mobile health), telemedicine, and trusty ol’ Email are increasingly leveraged to share info. This proves to be a massive boon for areas that lack facilities/specialists.
Telemedicine, also known as telehealth, refers to consultations and healthcare data transmission over the internet. Telemedicine also incorporates telemonitoring tech, which can monitor a remote patient’s vital signs and symptoms. Telemedicine carries benefits such as
- Shorter waiting times
- Enhanced rural access
- Enhanced efficiency
- Mobile Health
The smartphone is a device without which most of us cannot leave home. Thanks to the numerous ‘mhealth’ apps that have sprung up and a smartphone’s capabilities, medical professionals and patients alike can access EHRs, write emails, and even send prescriptions while on the go.
“mhealth” apps offer enhanced flexibility to all concerned parties. They are very inexpensive and yet provide invaluable services like:
- Chronic care management
- health records
- Mental health counseling
The healthcare industry has faced immense pressure over the last year, and as all sectors understood the value of technology integration, healthcare too chose wisely. Empowered by omnipresent digital services, the healthcare industry has saved many lives and provided critical care to patients not even on the same continent.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that IT has, is, and will continue to make significant strides in improving the quality of healthcare as well as the patient experience when interacting with healthcare applications or even actual healthcare professionals. From investigations to diagnosis, treatment, and documentation and then onto access of pertinent data for research and instrumentation, IT has empowered healthcare to surge ahead of the morasses that the Pandemic held the world in and usher in a new dawn of a healthier, happier, and more informed society.