Healthcare technology has come a long way, both in the United States and the world. From the equipment available to doctors, to electronic health records, to the new trend of virtual doctor visits, the focus is on being better. Better at diagnosing diseases; better at taking care of patients; better at surgeries; the list goes on. All of this is to say, every advancement in healthcare technologies is focused on one simple thing: being better at saving human lives.
An important element of current evolving technologies is catching things before they happen. For example, people for years have been using technologies to screen for cancer, catching people who are at risk for developing cancer before it has taken hold. Another big focus recently for technologies is around preventing and/or stopping people from becoming addicted to opioids. This focused is fueled by the current opioid crisis our country is going through, and a promising way to start reversing it. Previously, this type of prevention would have been hard to track and manage, but with new technologies, it might be easier than you’d think. As Paul Black said, “Health IT is critical to deliver the right data to the right place at the right time and empower clinicians and pharmacists to make informed decisions” (Healthcareitnews.com). With the help of technology, doctors and pharmacists can get the needed information quicker and easier, to know which people they prescribe medication to might be at risk already, or developing a risk, etc. And, by reducing the number of prescriptions to at-risk individuals, we can anticipate a decrease in the number of those who might become addicted to the substances, and overdose from them.
In order for this type of technology to work, the national statistics have to be accurate and timely, so that the data people are working with is as real-time as possible. One area near and dear to our hearts at QuantumMark is Cause of Death (COD) reporting. This has been an area that has struggled to maintain a timely and accurate standard, to no one’s fault. Doctors and Medical Examiners are extremely busy, and without understanding the true value they get from accurate COD reporting, it makes sense they might not put their full effort into one on an already busy day. Their focus is on saving the lives of patients who are in front of them. However, we are seeing great success in multiple states, in training everyone who touches a COD report on accuracy, efficiency and on the bigger impact the data has. This training, and improving of COD reporting, wouldn’t be possible without the new technologies and health systems that people can use. Submitting a COD report, and doing a quick edit online is MUCH quicker and easier than having to resubmit paper copies. In other words: it’s been able to put more time back in the hands of people involved so they can save more human lives.
Another interesting facet of prevention where new technologies make a difference is that of suicide and child abuse. These two enter a different realm of health, and one that was previously much harder to identify. For suicide, new breakthroughs are allowing electronic medical records to talk to each other: i.e. a doctor’s system could communicate with a therapist’s, and the combined result can make it possible to identify those at risk for suicide before the action takes place. For the prevention of child abuse, while doctors might see some signs themselves, the new technology calls out any potential risks, ones that a busy doctor may have overlooked in a routine check. This was found to be successful in babies as young as 6 months old. The fact that technology could save even 1 child from abuse, and the numerous psychological and physiological health issues that come with that, is spectacular. If healthcare is developing the ability to prevent the above, we cannot wait to see how it continues to evolve, and how we can continue to help improve the data that makes it all possible.
How technology can help in the fight against opioids | Paul Black
Microsoft and UPMC unveil virtual AI assistant that listens in and takes notes on doctor’s visits | CLARE MCGRANE
Connecticut study will help health care providers prevent suicide | Ed Stannard
EMR-Based Alert System Can Identify Possible Child Abuse Victims | Anne Zieger