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Future Trends in Healthcare Featured

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Introduction
The health care industry is one of the sectors that have experienced the widest form of technological advances. Technology has changed the health care industry. Treatments and surgeries that were unthinkable are now a reality and practiced in all healthcare facilities. Technology has advanced treatment, health care delivery and improved the equipment used by physicians, and nurses to render effective health care services. It is evident that technological advancements are bound to enhance and improve the health care industry. One of the technological areas that is bound to have a positive effect on the health care industry is the information and communication technologies. Advancements in the health information system mean that technologies such as the internet will; be used as an external delivery portal to enhance health care delivery through the provision of patient-specific information.
Communication in Healthcare
Communication between patients and physicians has traditionally been assumed to be oral and informed shared is done by the word of mouth. Technological advancements in the communication sector is bound to improve health care delivery in the health care industry. Health care facilities that adopt effective communication technologies are able to improve their service delivery and guarantee improved health care services. Currently, care givers and health care providers are using basic communication technologies to enhance their service delivery (Wager, & Glaser, 2009). It is, however, expected that the health care industry will realize significant improvements with emerging and improving technologies. Health care facilities need to embrace communication infrastructures that enhance the provision of effective health care services and ascertain that patients will access quality care.
Electronic Communication in Healthcare
The use of the internet and other form of electronic communication has revolutionized health care delivery in the industry. The emergence of the internet has enabled health care professionals to access a wide selection of information within the shortest time possible. Initially, physicians and nurses seeking clarification on different health issues had to use literary material such as books. With hardly enough time on their hands, books proved to be difficult to read through so as to access specific information. The internet offered physicians some degree of reprieve as they could access any form of information within a short duration. The internet has also made it easy for the public to access health materials that were previous inaccessible (Coiera, 2006). If, for instance, a patient needs additional information so as to understand his condition, an internet search will ensure that he gets adequate information.


The general public also uses the internet to get informed on different medical and health related issues. Prior to the emergence of the internet, patient relied on their physicians to educate them on issues such as prevention of an illness, is on maintaining optimal health and many other medical issues. The internet has provided patients and the general public with a reliable source of alternative opinion with regard to a medical problem (Haux, & Wolf, 2008).

E-mail use in health care facilities has also facilitated health professional’s ability to save on time and resources. E-mails are fast and easy to use. E-mails also guarantee that recipients receive the information hence risk of information loss as in mails/letters is non-existent. The use of emails as alternative modes of communication in the health care industry is bound to advance as the public become gradually relaxed with the idea of using this technology. E-mails will provide patients and physicians with an alternative consultative platform. Currently, consultation with a physician requires that a patient is physically available at the physician's clinic.

Five years from now, the reality of emails consultation is bound to become a norm. Physicians will use emails to hold consultative meetings with patients (Castellanos, & Meyers, 2004). The consultative meetings could focus on preventive measures, health education and how patients can handle different non emergency situations. The need for physical encounters with physicians will no longer be necessary unless unavoidable. Such technological advancements will see the queues in hospitals and outside physician’s clinics reduce significantly. It is only patients that require mandatory physical examination that will meet the physician physically.

The introduction of telemedicine technology has also enhanced service delivery as physicians are able to share patient’s information, as well as other medical reports. Technologies such as telemedicine has enabled physicians to offer rapid medical assistance as less time is spent interviewing the patient for his medical history. The use of telemedicine in the future is expected to grow with increased connectivity that ensures patient-physicians relations is maintained as physicians are able to reach their patients regardless of their geographical location (Haux, & Wolf, 2008). Concerns over missing appointments will reduce as patients can access their physicians using links such as video conferencing.

The physicians can connect his patient to the nearest referral doctor, if the need for advanced medical check is required and the distance between physicians and the patient is wide. Advancement in telemedicine is bound to improve health care delivery efforts as patients in remote regions will access the services of a doctor. Physicians will also not be troubled with the requirement to travel to the patient in case he is bed-ridden. Advancements in telemedicine are bound to improve with advancements in communication across urban and rural areas (Wager, & Glaser, 2009).

The electronic medical record (EMR) is another form of technology that has changed health care delivery. EMR technology has enabled physicians to offer prompt health care services as they can access a patient’s records within a short duration. EMR allows for the documentation of a patient’s health care visits, and medication. EMR gives the physicians an opportunity to access a detailed record of his patient’s previous medical conditions and medication before he begins his treatments. EMR has also improved the process of information sharing between physicians. It is through EMR that physicians can make patients referral without a lot of paperwork.

EMR also makes the process of processing for payments and claims easy as all medical expenses that a patient incurs is recorded. EMR also guarantees patients privacy and confidentiality as the patients records can be accessed by a few authorized individuals. This is boost from the previous use of physical files that could get misplaced or land in the wrong hands. Five years from now, paper filling as a form of storing patient information will be a thing of the past. All health care facilities will have embraced the EMR technology as a convenient and fast mode of offering quality health care services (Castellanos, & Meyers, 2004). Physicians will no longer be walking with their stethoscopes only. They will be carrying their mobile devices and laptops to their offices. Using these mobile devices the physicians will be accessing patient information on time hence guarantee prompt patient care. The entire health care facility will be interconnected to the extent that different departments can share information via the EMR technology. A lab technician will, for instance, transmit the lab results to the physicians hence no need of physical movement.

The level of technological advancements with regard to software applications is also bound to improve. Currently, there exists different technologies and software used in the treatment of numerous medical conditions manifested in patients. Technologies such as CT scans and ultrasounds communicate essential medical information about a patient’s medical condition. The ideology of robot-assisted surgery is gradually becoming a reality across different health care facility, and in five years time, robotic surgery is expected to be a reality. Surgical robots will be created using software that enable them perform intricate surgical procedures that are currently life threatening.
Robotic surgery will also minimize the time taken to complete a surgical procedure manually. Patients will be able to come off critical medical conditions and recover quickly (Castellanos, & Meyers, 2004). Robotic surgery will also minimize the risk of errors and complications that can cost a patient his or her life. Robotic surgery will also provide a lasting solution to the strained health personnel thus guarantee quality health care services.

Technology advancement is also bound to improve service delivery in the health care industry. In five years time, it is expected that the public will be driven to use the internet based self care. The emergence of internet based self care will see the need of doctors significantly reduce as people will strive to engage in internet based self care. Internet-based care will be the future alternative to directly seeking doctor’s services. With the internet based system of care, an individual will use the web based technologies that include ‘ask the doctor” interactive services. Individuals will have an online physician who can assist them in resolving different medical issues (Coiera, 2006).
This interactive platform will help individuals seek medical assistance for non-emergency situations that a patient can resolve alone. Over the next five years, it is expected that physicians will turn people homes into personal clinical facilities. Physicians will strive to keep patients within the comfort of their home rather than admit them in health care facilities. Health care providers will use monitoring devices that will be used on home based patients to determine their progress when recovering at home.

Conclusion

Technological advancements are bound to affect all sectors in a society. The health care industry is bound to realize some positive effects due to technological advancements in the information sector. Improvements in technology will undoubtedly result to improvements in the health care industry as health care providers will guarantee fast and improved health care services. Currently, a large population is already suing the internet for communication purposes. The health care industry is bound to improve with the use of the internet and other communication channels. Paper work with regard to patient’s records will be replaced with advanced communication technologies such as telemedicine and EMR, where information will be saved and shared across different health professionals who require them.


Reference
Castellanos, A. & Meyers, W. (2004). Robotic Surgery. Annual journal of surgery. Vol. 239(1): 14-21
Coiera, E. (2006). Communication systems in healthcare. Journal of clinical biochemistry. Vol. 27(2); 89-98
Haux, R. & Wolf, K. (2008). Health-enabling technologies. Informatics for health & social care. Vol. 33(2): 77-89
Wager, K. & Glaser, J. (2009). Healthcare Information System. A practical Approach to Health Care Management. USA. John Wiley & Sons

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