Your Health: 6 Ways Healthcare Technology Improves Treatment

July 24, 2014

It's clear that technological innovations change healthcare for the better; new treatment options, imaging devices, pharmaceuticals, and devices for various therapies directly shape the quality of our care. Healthcare technology, and the entire health system in general, is more than simply the devices that health professionals use to diagnose and treat our illnesses. Information, in particular, is one of the most important aspects of medical technology. The entire structure of the health system, from healthcare facilities and methods for record keeping to the way doctors and healthcare staff communicate with patients, has the potential to be improved by technological innovation. Let's take a look at some of the most exciting applications of new and emerging technologies and innovative ideas in the healthcare arena.

With the proliferation of mobile devices of all types, apps and data help bring your health into your own hands.

1. Connecting with Patients Online

Health providers are using social media more often to bring information to their patients as well as the general public. Some hospitals, in particular, have established services where patients can chat instantly with nurses and other knowledgeable staff about their practices. Health service centers can also launch public awareness campaigns on social media, since social media services have the potential to reach vast numbers of people and cost less than traditional methods, like television, radio, or telemarketing campaigns.

2. Digital Efficiency

The implementation of electronic medical records has made patient information more readily accessible to entire health teams throughout healthcare facilities. It also allows for clearer, faster communication between healthcare providers, pharmacies, and insurance companies. Pair this with the soon to be implemented ICD-10 code set (October 2015), which allows for more precise coding of conditions, medications, and special circumstances than previous coding protocols, and you have a faster, more precise system that allows for better treatment.

3. Big Data: Predictions and Trends

Big data, or the analysis of large amounts of information with the use of cloud computing and networking, also has applications in the health field. Google Flu tracks data from countries and regions, and can help public health organizations mobilize and prepare to treat outbreaks of various diseases. Big Data can also help spot trends that might effect individual patients, informing risk factors of possible future illness.

4. Online Health Education

Using the internet to retrieve medical information has increased substantially in the last decade. Online resources are well-known and numerous, and can help patients interact with their doctors, both in pre-diagnosis and as they navigate treatment. Patients can also learn about pharmaceuticals that might be useful, or about over the counter drugs that they want to know more about. They must be used, however, under the caveat that self-diagnosis can be dangerous and that all medical issues should be verified and diagnosed by a qualified professional.

Open-source healthcare data helps patients choose the physicians and providers that are right for them.

5. Texting Our Doctors

Mobile technology has improved connectivity with medical providers. This has been an important aspect of healthcare since pagers first became prominent in big-city hospitals in the late eighties and early nineties. Digital and internet-based tools are more and more often used by physicians to communicate with their patients and the staff at medical facilities.

6. Video Games and Health

Wii Fit is one of the most well-known fitness programs designed for a game console. Dance Dance Revolution is one of many games to require rigorous movement in its design, though it's core purpose is not explicitly exercise. As video games become more advanced, using physical movements in their interfaces, exercise and healthy movement can be readily integrated into game functions.

Digital games and activities have been used in certain types of therapies for recovery, especially for neurological disorders such as strokes. As our understanding of the brain and the nervous system improve, and as video game technology becomes more intricate, these therapies will bring even more effective patient care.