Information technology and the healthcare industry are growing exponentially. The growth of Internet access, mobile technology and social networks collectively offer future growth in which it is possible to deliver highly personalized healthcare without having to do it in person.
Healthcare professionals are already exploiting people’s natural tendency to play games in order to improve their cognitive skills and change behaviors. Wii Fit, an exercise game developed by Nintendo is a perfect example of the use of technology in healthcare. Telehealth offers remote access to healthcare professionals and has major advantages over traditional methods of delivery, almost to the point of rendering them archaic. Healthcare-specific social networks allow providers to deliver services and enable patients to play a more active role in their own healthcare.
Standardization is important for the future of health IT. To achieve that, some authoritative source, such as our government, will need to set strict standards. This will mean a learning curve and continuing education for users. Medical school curricula will need to be updated to include IT use by new physicians. Data entry and e-prescribing are currently the most useful applications, to date. Doctor-to-patient video conferencing is being done, and accepted as a proper form of care. Smartphones attachments are turning cellphones and wearable accessories into traditional doctors’ tools that allow vital sign recording, activity logging, heart-rhythm tracing, and many other forms of physical examination.
Some of the biggest challenges in implementation are demographical. Younger generations have a tendency to take a greater role in using, embracing, and improving technology. Older generations prefer more hierarchal structures in healthcare provisions and information that is direct, specific, and written.
While there are challenges to confront as healthcare professionals make better use of healthcare IT, the value will be worth the effort.