The future trends in health care are limitless. From using applications that perform EKG’s to robot-assisted surgery, the rapid expansion of technology applications in health care is astounding. Advancing technology also pushes the boundaries of health care in its ability to integrate health care information. The integration of health care information is critical to the effective, efficient delivery of quality care in a now fragmented health care system. This paper will assess how the internet or any new forms of electronic communication can be used as an external delivery source of communicating patient-specific information, address the impact of distance delivery on health care, how these communication issues impact health care today and the impact of these issues on health care five years from now.
The Internet, and other forms of electronic communication, is used as an external delivery source in communicating patient-specific information. Individuals are increasingly looking to the Internet for up-to-date answers to their medical questions. Individuals are able to obtain information on various medical conditions, latest treatments, medications, and clinical trials. Prior to the Internet, patients relied on the physician to be the sole owner of the medical knowledge. The greatest impact on medical decision-making has come from the increase knowledge from health-related websites prior to the clinical visit (Gerber & Eiser, 2001). Using the Internet for additional sources of information also allows the patient to obtain another opinion on health-related matters. When patients bring health-related information with them to their provider’s office, it creates an opportunity for a dialogue between the patient and provider that otherwise may not exist. In increasing the patient’s health care literacy, the patient becomes a more collaborative, engaged partner in their health and wellness. Conversely, physicians are able to refer patients to websites, often called “ePrescriptions”, for further information on topics ranging from wellness, lifestyle changes, disease management, and clinical trials. Health insurers are also using the Internet to provide web-based access to member benefits, health and wellness information, forms and claims activity.
There is an increasing need within the U.S. for quality health care to be provided to individuals who have limited access whether it is due to a rural environment, disabilities, or in the field of battle. Telemedicine is literally medicine provided at a distance. Telehealth is able to alleviate some of the effects of a growing shortage of professionals such as primary care physicians. In this type of health care delivery, the dynamics between the patient and the entire health care system changes. Telemedicine meets the increasing demands of patients to have greater access, or responsiveness, from a health care provider. It also meets the needs of the provider who is very interested in time-saving, safety-enhancing assistance in their daily practice. Employers and health plans are also very interested in telemedicine as a means of improving compliance with treatment plans and care management initiatives (Hodgkins, 2008). The use of email also allows the patient to have increased access to their health care providers. Instead of calling their health care provider’s office, patients are now able to email their non-emergent health care questions to their provider. Conversely, health care providers are able to email patients reminders for appointments or wellness tips.
Good communication is important in getting the best medical care. A good relationship with your health care team depends on good communication. One method to facilitate communication between health care providers is having an electronic medical record. Electronic medical records (EMR) systems help ensure consistent documentation and timely monitoring of disease-specific clinical measures, but computerized disease management systems (CDMS) can also help coordinate workflows and communication among providers as well as provide clinical support and education to patients, thereby leading to better health outcomes. (Follen, M., Castaneda, R., Mikelson, M., Johnson, D., Wilson, A., & Higuchi, K., 2007). Another EMR application is the coordination of specialist care. When a provider identifies an issue in need of specialist attention, the provider is able to electronically transfer the patient’s medical records to the specialist for review and treatment plan coordination.
Today, IT in healthcare must operate on a “real-time” basis rather than in analyzing what happened in the past so that providers can make more immediate interventions in the care provided to individuals in all settings—in the hospital, at the clinic or at home (Milliard, 2012). Five years from now, mobile and tablet devices could monitor and improve health and wellness. Patients will take more responsibility for their care. A recent survey conducted by McKinsey & Co. and the MIT Center for Digital Business found that companies who had the data they needed and used it to make informed decisions as compared to relying more on intuition and expertise had the highest productivity and profitability (Milliard, 2012). In the next several years, there will be missions to develop universal exchange language that will result in interoperability where data can be used to develop quality indicators to help increase health care quality and decrease cost. There will also be an integration of electronic medical records (EMR) and chronic disease management systems (CDMS). The integration of these systems is likely to enable the efficient management of health information and improve the quality of health care as it would provide real-time patient information in a coordinated manner. (Follen, M., et al., 2007). By managing those who have chronic disease management Lastly, the induction of the EMR has created the first generation to have all their medical information electronically over the course of their life.
No one can truly see what the future holds for health care. As the Supreme Court decides on the fate of health care reform, the health care conversation continues regarding how to reduce the cost of health care while maintaining quality, and increase access while fostering patient self-management. The integration of health care information through advancing technology opens avenues to provide an effective, efficient delivery of quality care in a fragmented health care system within the United States. The use of the Internet in health care has provided patients the ability to take more responsibility in their health and wellness through increasing their health literacy and hopefully communication with their health care providers.
Follen, M., Castaneda, R., Mikelson, M., Johnson, D., Wilson, A., & Higuchi, K. (2007). Implementing health information technology to improve the process
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Hodgkins, M. (2008, August). Improve care with provider-patient electronic communications. Managed Care Executive, (), . Retrieved from http://managedhealthcareexecutive.modernmedicine.com/mhe/Web+Exclusives/Improve-care-with-provider-patient-electronic-comm/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/533834
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