On April 25, I will be speaking at the Constantine S. Macricostas Lecture Series at Western Connecticut State University. The event will be in the state-of-the-art, 122,000-square-foot science building on the Danbury campus at 181 West Street (see directions to the campus). My topic will be about healthcare in the Internet age. The dawn of the Internet age has changed healthcare forever – diagnoses can happen faster, quality and patient safety can be improved, information is more readily searchable, our healthcare providers can more effectively collaborate on our behalf, and our health records are available with the click of a mouse or a tap on our personal digital device. Despite the progress, we haven’t seen anything yet! Internet technology will be having a much larger role in healthcare. Following are some examples of the things I will be talking about on April 25.
Patient Awareness and Home Diagnoses:
The availability of information on the Internet has dramatically changed how involved patients are in their own care and diagnosis. There is always the concern that a patient may self-diagnose, self-medicate, and self-destruct, but the increased awareness of common conditions and preventative medicine can go a long way to improve everyone’s health. Smartphones have enormous potential to provide monitoring, testing and video consultations that previously required an office visit. Home healthcare telemonitoring may grow ten-fold over the next few years.
In the past, it took days for a lab to run tests, for a doctor to review the results and share information with the patient. With today’s technologies, laboratory, imaging and other tests can be recorded electronically and delivered through a patient portal immediately. In some cases, a doctor may want to deliver the results in person, but in many – if not most – cases the patient can interpret the results. After all, the data belongs to the patient, not to the doctor. Doctors and patients can get the information they need faster and patient care plans can be developed and implemented sooner. For example, there have been great advances in e-prescribing. Not only is it more accurate than the traditional scribble on a piece of paper, but the script is compared against other medications and known allergies, thereby greatly reducing medication errors.
The mobile device explosion has enabled health information to be at patients’ fingertips, helping to extend preventive and diagnostic healthcare to the entire population in a more accessible way. At the same time, mobile technologies have made it easier for doctors and nurses to share and access information – improving their ability to see the latest industry news and advances, to share information with patients, and to provide top-notch care. Today’s smartphones are as powerful as early supercomputers and they will take on a larger role in all aspects of healthcare.
Business Intelligence and analytics are poised to enable new insight into the mounds of big data that are being accumulated in healthcare every day. This will lead to better, more accurate diagnoses and patient care. If Watson could defeat humans at Jeopardy, imagine what Watson will be doing to assist physicians. IBM is working closely with major healthcare providers to do just that.
Medical Records in the Cloud:
There is much to be optimistic about when it comes to electronic medical records. Currently, they’re not as easily interchangeable and accessible as they should be – but this will change over the next few years as the government adds dollar incentives to make it happen. The result will be better quality of care, better outcomes and fewer errors. Doctors will be able to quickly access the latest, most up-to-date information on any patient, from anywhere in the world. No longer is getting sick while out-of-town a threatening situation. Say goodbye to the clipboards! When you go to a specialist, he or she will actually know why you are there and everything about your recent care and diagnoses.
I’m looking forward to discussing these topics and more on April 25. As always, I will learn a lot from the Q&A session. The event will start with a reception at 6 p.m. in the Science Building atrium and then continue at 7 p.m. in Room 125. No RSVP is required.