How has technology affected healthcare? A column published on the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society website provides a terrific answer to this question:
"It's impossible to truly appreciate the current state of health IT in the United States without reflecting on how far we've come and where we have been. Not that long ago, all records were captured on paper. Charts could only be shared via fax machine or courier. You saw your local doctor for everything — visited your local hospital. Accessing healthcare information was difficult and tedious. Monumental advances have been made in the last 20 years that have improved the way the healthcare industry delivers patient care and the way the public expects to be treated."
As we look ahead, what does the future of healthcare technology hold? Time will tell, but a few things are fairly certain:
- Technology will continue to play a significant role in improving the delivery of care.
- Healthcare providers and patients will grow more reliant on technology to help make better informed care decisions.
- Technologies we cannot envision today will dramatically transform healthcare, possibly within the next few years.
To gain a better understanding of what the future of healthcare technology might look like, here are five predictions from healthcare and technology experts.
1. Eric Yablonka, Stanford Health
Yablonka is the chief information officer (CIO) for Stanford Health Care, a medical complex which includes Stanford HealthCare and Stanford Children's Health.
In a CIO Q&A, he says, "The data architecture in a healthcare system is very complex, since data comes into the system from so many places — patients, referring physicians, payers. The future includes wearables, home monitoring, and other sensors that are beyond the hospital and physician office. And data comes in so many forms — diagnostic test results can be images, paper, and lab results, structured and unstructured — all of which have to be brought into the record and integrated into a set of processes."
2. Anders Wold, GE Healthcare
Wold is chief executive officer of GE Healthcare's Clinical Care Solutions.
In a Healthcare IT News report, he says. "If you add everything up, technology is going to make the hospital of the future faster, more accessible and patient-friendly, data-driven, and I would say more and more outside the traditional walls of the hospital. Technology is going to be key for clinicians, patients, the entire industry."
3. Brandon Purcell, Forrester Research
Parcell is a senior analyst who specializes in analytics at Forrester Research, a research and advisory firm.
In a Healthcare IT News article, he says, "Because analytical models and artificial intelligence (AI) are only as good as the data used to teach them, healthcare providers will make significant investments in the creation of foundational data assets that link patient data from disparate sources. The completeness and quality of this 'single source of truth' will be the key to differentiation for healthcare providers, enabling them to provide proactive care, personalize services, and reduce operational costs."
4. Michael Rogers, Journalist
Rogers is a columnist, author, and "practical futurist" who recently concluded a two-year post as futurist-in-residence at the New York Times.
In a Healthcare IT News article concerning healthcare technology in the late 2020s, he says, "Payers, providers, suppliers, pharmacies will all be under one corporate roof. Patients won't get health insurance anymore. They'll subscribe and get unlimited virtual consultations via telemedicine, with wellness, fitness, and nutrition information.”
Furthermore, he says, "The next 10 years are about the virtualization of the world. That has only just begun. There’s a huge constituency of people — venture capitalists, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet — who all see this opportunity to create something new."
5. Bob Kocher and Bryan Roberts, Venrock
Kocher and Roberts are healthcare investors and partners at Venrock, a venture capital firm that invests in technology and healthcare companies.
In a Fortune article about healthcare predictions for 2019, they write, "We believe health systems have heard the cries from doctors about terrible user experience and administrative burden of electronic health records (EHRs). Since health systems cannot afford to replace doctors who make credible threats of retiring or resigning, they will make investments to improve morale. We are bullish that EHRs will move doctor user experience up the product roadmap priority list and that innovations like voice interfaces and machine learning will help a great deal."