Hospitals produced an estimated 697 million megabytes of data in 2015. That’s more than two megabytes of medical data for every man, woman and child in the United States. And while we may spend billions of dollars and more hours entering data than seeing patients, much of that data remains inaccessible, hidden behind proprietary data architectures, authorizations and patient matching problems.
Imagine you decide to go to the Emergency Department or even an acute care clinic right now. How far would you have to travel, what would you need to bring, what comforts would you leave behind for a harried, hurried trip to a waiting room? And just how much would this trip cost? On the other hand, how long would it take you to set up a FaceTime chat?
For decades, the majority of patients have traveled to an appointment with a physician with one thing in mind: “treatment.” Regardless of the cost or available evidence, most patients trusted physicians with a “you’re-the-doctor” attitude and took whatever medication was prescribed. However, today’s system is rapidly evolving. Patients are now researching their symptoms and diagnoses. Often times they may be overdoing it or relying on inaccurate information, but none the less, our society is now full of educated patients.
Last fall, Vinod Khosla made the bold statement that technology will automate or replace 80 percent of doctors. He sparked some serious concern amongst physicians everywhere. Is he right? In some sense, he is correct in saying that much of what a doctor does will be automated. Even now, most physicians are scrambling to the nearest device with internet access to look up a drug or disease. Khosla’s theory assumes there can be an even faster way to sense, record, and analyze signs and symptoms. He is likely correct, but that still only accelerates the diagnostic process. However, diagnosis is generally only a portion of the job of a physician.
Wearables are getting some major hype recently, especially since the release of Apple’s HealthKit and with the growing popularity of Fitbit. Eventually, the technology will be widely used by providers to receive medical data from patients, helping to promote disease prevention and to improve treatment compliance. Wearables will allow for more frequent collection — and organization — of accurate and objective medical information.
Despite patient care being the primary focus in healthcare, a lot more than direct medical attention is required for a thorough medical service. This is especially true of organizations that desire to support and improve their surrounding communities. As leaders in the field it’s imperative that providers consider the "non-medical topics" like finance, logistics, administration, and regulation. Less obvious are the environmental implications of providing care, but not insignificant by any means.
It’s the 21st century, and we are all dependent on our electronic devices to help us with our everyday tasks… probably more so than we should be. Regardless, it’s important that you manage these devices properly. Today we’re going to run through a list of items you may not have thought about.
Whether the practice or the employee owns the device, these controls need to be applied to meet HIPAA requirements.
How to manage those pesky devices:
My fiancée and I just returned from Spain. We had left our phones at home, as the purpose of this trip was to spend a few weeks focusing on one another while planning our future together and enjoying Spanish cuisine. Without a cell phone to distract our minds we spent the whole trip holding hands while perusing the markets during the day and enjoying the sunsets by night. At night, our faces were not glued to an iPhone screen, but rather absorbed in one another’s eyes throughout late dinners. When we got into bed, there was no temptation to seek a new Facebook post to troll.
Telemedicine is emerging quickly. Physicians in dermatology and cardiology seem to be leading the way, but other fields of medicine will soon catch up. One of the most impactful groups to implement this new technology will be primary care providers, those on the front lines of healthcare. It is often said that the main goal of primary care is to keep patients from getting sick enough to end up in the hospital. This could not be more true and with today’s technology, those providers will only be more successful.