Digitisation of processes has opened up a vista of opportunities for healthcare providers to deliver high quality services efficiently. Innovations such as optical scanner, needle-free diabetes care and remote stroke diagnosis help practitioners better diagnose the diseases and perform relevant surgical procedures.
Healthcare technology is a broad area encompassing medical technology, information technology for healthcare, medical devices and equipment, mobile technology for healthcare and more.
Apart from meeting the challenges such as cost cutting, efficiencies, documentation etc., increasing use of mobile in healthcare industry is providing positive results. Applications in the field of telemedicine have shown promise by enabling remote access to medical imaging data thus creating quick remote diagnosis of strokes. “Mobile access takes away the pain of the afterhours consult and allows me to participate using my mobile device from wherever I am. Using mobile access to patient images makes my knowledge,skills and experience accessible to my trainees, referring providers and patients much more readily and effectively,” says Jason Helvey, MD a neuro radiologist at Nebraska Medicine. According to GlobalData, the market for Patient monitoring and consultation via mobile devices was worth US$1.2 in 2011 and is expected to increase to US$11.8 billion by 2018, representing a CAGR of 39 per cent.
Healthcare apps downloads for smart devices is growing rapidly. Some apps help healthcare professionals improve and facilitate patient care by guiding them on diagnosing and treating patients, while others allow patients access to health information right in their pockets. Apps can also be used as monitoring blood pressure, blood sugar controller, glucose tracker, and tracking carb intake. The US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) also encourages development of mobile (medical) apps that provide valuable insights to both healthcare professionals and patients. Not surprisingly, medical apps market is expected to grow by 23 per cent annually over the next five years. By end of 2015, more than a third of the 1.4 billion smartphone users will have at least one mobile healthcare app.
Rising consumerism, growing information dependence and the need for better outcomesare the key drivers for this technology growth. However, the healthcare industry is bound to face challenges such as rising operational costs, technology burdens, issues related to privacy and security of health information, legal issues etc. Applying technology to the field is as important as introducing it. By using right technology at the right time for the right purpose, there is a chance of overcoming these challenges.
In this special issue on Healthcare technology,our esteemed authors have contributed their thoughts on how healthcare industry is moving forward in embracing the technological developments and enhancements for better outcomes and quality care. I would like to specially thank Rana Mehta, Executive Director Healthcare Leader PwC, India; Laurent Metz, Director, Health Economics & Market Access, MD&D Asia, Pacific, Johnson & Johnson Medical Asia Pacific, Singapore; H Stephen Lieber, President and CEO, HIMSS,USA; Ken Ong, Medical Informatics Officer, New York Hospital Queens, New York.