Technology Trends Impacting Healthcare
Medical researchers have worked tirelessly to advance healthcare over the last several decades. To this end, the medical community meets regularly to find ways to improve patient outcomes by building on existing technologies and practices and developing new ways to serve society’s healthcare needs.
Innovation Is an Ongoing Process
The medical community meets annually to find solutions to society’s biggest health concerns and share new technologies and practices.  Currently, healthcare leaders want to harness several new opportunities made available by enhanced data management technology to decrease costs, improve patient outcomes and find new ways to heal.
Genomic Information and Precision Medicine
Researchers are enrolling one million citizens into a single database that will house their genomic profile among other health related data.  Institutions are increasingly using genomic information and precision medicine. Eventually, the technology will create a medical environment where practitioners are continually learning and conducting research.
Physicians view genomic information as the key to providing solutions for the most difficult cases and are beginning to make progress toward healing previously incurable conditions.  Additional new discoveries are imminent as physicians gain a deeper understanding of these illnesses. The discoveries will spawn new and effective caregiving practices and possible interceptive solutions for currently crippling sicknesses.
New healthcare regulations requiring electronic systems to share medical records have raised the need for caregiving facilities to upgrade their technology frameworks.  To facilitate this, technology service providers are working closely with healthcare associations.
The Legislature has devised the Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA) process to systematize information sharing.  The organization is a clearinghouse for interoperability implementation and makes suggestions based on collaboration with medical technology leaders. The ISA uses six criteria to determine if a system is interoperable. Whether a process:
1. Is agreed upon by medical community consensus
2. Serves all or part of a facility’s implementation needs
3. Is adopted by a large or small part of the medical community
4. Is mandated by law
5. Requires monetary expenditure
6. Has standard tools to test effectiveness
While some systems already do this within an organization, the goal is for all organizations to exchange information freely.
Unique Patient Identifiers
Engineers are working on a technology to identify patients with 100 percent accuracy and eliminate medical errors caused by patient misidentification.  Most patients have a primary care physician and medical group number, but this information varies among providers.
There is a danger that healthcare organizations can confuse patient records while establishing the unique identifiers, especially under the new national healthcare schema. Successfully implementing the practice requires an improved information-sharing framework. While building the framework, engineers will face a challenge finding the right balance between privacy and free flowing information.
Meaningful Use with Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
New laws require that EHR technology produce quantifiable improvements over current record keeping practices.  Medical information specialists have yet to form a consensus on how caregiving facilities will implement the system. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stipulates that meaningful use compliant networks:
- Incorporate certified EHR best practices in a meaningful manner
- Exchange healthcare information in a way that improves patient outcomes
- Incorporate technology to measure service quality and other factors
Medicare mandates that facilities meet this requirement or face financial penalties but allows institutions to adopt the practice in phases to ease the transition.
Medical technology has advanced drastically over the last several decades, and researchers continue to engineer innovations that improve public health. Tapping into the power of information is the latest trend. These new processes will help caregivers improve healthcare and allow researchers to find cures to the most pressing health concerns.
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2. Aronson SJ, Rehm HL. Building the Foundation for Genomics in Precision Medicine. Nature. October 2015;526(7573):336-342.
3. Auffray C, et. al. From Genomic Medicine to Precision Medicine: Highlights of 2015. BioMed Central. January 2016;8(12).