A Healthy Dose of IT
Healthcare Technology Outlook 2020 Technology uptake [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8J6-W38YuU4]
Medicine has advanced to the point where the world's average age expectancy is steadily on the rise. For all that quantity, however, there remains the issue of quality. Lots of people are living long lives - far longer than, say, a century ago - yet instead of receiving cures to conditions, they're requiring a staggering amount of sustained and constant treatment while doing so.
That's where the right Information Technology comes in. The healthcare industry won't be able to continue making the same kind of gains it's made in the last 50 years. Without the right IT, the healthcare industry also won't be able to narrow the gap between simply extending lifespans and improving the quality of those lives.
It wasn't too long ago that the prospect of wearing a wristwatch-sized computing platform that could monitor and rely your vital signs to a doctor was a thing of science fiction. Today we have the advantage of deciding between such computers - even based on color and style! The next version of those platforms will inevitably be microscopic chips placed under the surface of the skin. No fashion decisions required.
What these development mean to the quality of healthcare is that medical providers will be more in touch with individual patients and also able to aggregate massive amounts of medical data. Even search engine companies are noticing that when people in certain areas of the world are entering keywords like "flu symptoms," there's a good chance that the virus is spreading in that area. One such search engines was able to determine the likely areas of flu outbreaks more rapidly than the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which still depend more on traditional data-gathering techniques.
Can Information Technology that was developed for the aerospace & defense industry be applied to the healthcare sector? You bet it can. The healthcare industry is even learning from consumer friendly retail sites whose algorithms help shoppers find discounted hotel rooms and airline tickets. If you're in a big city and it's flu season, it sometimes can be difficult to get an appointment to see a doctor immediately. What new healthcare Web sites are doing is to apply the same retail notion to medicine: If someone cancels an appointment with a doctor at the last minute, you will be notified via text and can get in to the office for treatment a lot more quickly.
Of course, with the right IT platforms, who says the future is filled with trips to a doctor's office? Much of the analysis, diagnosis, and treatment will increasingly be done online. Think about the ramifications remote treatment can be for people who live in extremely remote and/or rural communities. Healthcare IT encompasses a lot more than most people think. It's about leveraging informatics, Big Data, and software solutions to design products and services that can be used by just about every relevant party: health insurers, hospitals, healthcare product providers, health management providers, pharmacy benefit managers, retail pharmacies, pharmaceutical & biotech firms, and even medical device manufacturers.
Information Technology is changing the world of medicine: The healthcare analytics solution from Infosys, for example, allows payers to accelerate their innovation agenda, differentiate their products and services, enhance customer experience, and achieve greater operational efficiency. It's a solution that we created because of both increased competition and the need to reduce administrative costs - all while enhancing customers' experience.
The whole value chain has changed: sales and marketing, operations, care management, provider management, member management, and finance & compliance. Using data-driven insights to formulate strategies is now a major focus for health plans. And it will be for patients as well.