10 Technology Trends Revolutionizing Healthcare and How Effective IT Makes them Possible

As technology evolves, so do products and services, and the healthcare industry is no exception.

November 19, 2014 by Alex Collins, IT Services Consultant

healthcare IT

As technology evolves, so do products and services, and the healthcare industry is no exception. Process improvements, as seemingly commonplace as secure data transfer, have had huge impacts on quality, while groundbreaking innovations such as wearable sensors have offered patients a new level of care previously unknown. Behind any new technology is a strong, efficient IT infrastructure that hospitals and other healthcare centers rely on to support this wide array of technological advancements.

Below are 10 technological enhancements that have improved the quality of healthcare, and the different ways IT professionals are implementing and supporting them.

1. Secure Data Transfer
Transferring information from one computer system to another is crucial to quality healthcare due to the possibility of lost or corrupted data. Information technology continues to improve the quality of data transfer. This will create challenges for IT teams as methods of storing and retrieving data continues to evolve and changes have to be implemented to keep up with the progress.

2. Analytics to Track Search Queries
Analytics and forecasting applications are now able to predict trends and potential outbreaks of illnesses. By calculating the number of hits on particular words such as flu or allergies, healthcare professionals are better able to predict outbreaks and other medical trends. IT specialists can implement programs to effectively structure large amounts of this type of data for practical use.

3. Electronic Prescriptions
Computer-based transmission and filing of a prescription is increasingly taking the place of faxed and paper prescriptions. This practice has resulted in fewer errors and less time spent calling back for clarifications. Improving authentication standards will continue to be a goal of IT security teams when implementing electronic prescription programs.

4. Electronic Health Records Software
The data provided in EHR (Electronic Health Records) allows doctors to better understand the quality of care they are providing. This type of software provides organization, accountability, and overall access to better healthcare. Not only is maintaining server backups critical to the ongoing success of EHR but IT departments must be able to create files that can be stored indefinitely and be easily recovered.

Picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) have revolutionized the way images are stored and analyzed. This improves healthcare by allowing physicians to not only view current images but quickly retrieve prior images so the trajectory of a patient's condition can be more easily monitored. IT's role in the success of this complex technology includes implementing and maintaining a combination of hardware platforms, display technology, system interfacing, and databases.

6. ICD-10 System
The International Statistical Classification of Diseases is a diagnostic tool that allows illnesses, as well as symptoms and causes, to be coded. The ICD-10 system includes thousands of different codes and sub-classifications. Organizations wishing to use this tool usually rely on IT staff to install and maintain the necessary software.

7. CAD Technology
Computer Aided Detection (CAD) technology works like a spell-checker on a computer would work by analyzing radiographic findings and estimating the likelihood of certain diseases. IT specialists would be responsible for implementing this software into already existing technologies such as mammograms.

8. Wearable Sensors
Wearable and implanted devices such as heart monitors and fitness trackers provide physicians with medical data that is useful in treating patients. IT specialists are depended upon to ensure that wireless technology is able to transmit data to physicians from increasingly remote locations.

9. Electronic Billing
Information technology has greatly improved the processes by which professionals code and then bill patients. Issues regarding payment rather than clinical needs have actually been the primary driver for most investment in IT solutions for healthcare.

10. Improved Security
The increase of personal information being stored online increases the need for security. IT teams have provided software to protect critical information against malware and data theft. IT services will increasingly be called upon to provide security assessments and offer the highest level of risk management.

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