Schools Training

The Rise of Digital Healthcare

21 JUN 2012
Career Path : Healthcare

The healthcare industry is increasingly becoming more digitalized. Rather than hopping from room to room with a clipboard, nurses and physicians are making their rounds with their trusty tablets. Instead of face-to-face consultations, healthcare professionals are extending their expertise over video chats. Let’s take a closer look at what changes are being made and what this means for the future of the healthcare industry in general.

 

Telehealth

Telehealth technologies allow healthcare professionals to communicate with each other and with patients by way of videoconferencing. This type of communication is best suited for situations where distance prevents medical professionals from providing the best healthcare possible. Through telehealth, a nurse can present visual findings to a practitioner who is across the country, or for an urban-based caregiver to attend to rural-based patients via videoconferencing. In short, caregiving and nursing can be done remotely. Of course, this would not apply to situations that require direct contact, such as administering medication or tending to a wound.

 

Healthcare Tablets

Tablets are increasingly being used by healthcare professionals. One principal way that tablets are being used is as a portal to patient data and medical records. If any of you have ever worked in a hospital, you will know that getting your hands on hardcopy medical records is like landing courtside seats at a basketball game. Because hardcopies are never printed in duplicate, a healthcare worker needs to reserve a medical record before taking it out, and more often than not, will have a limited amount of time before having to return it. It is not uncommon that more than one healthcare professional will need access to a patient’s data at the same time, making the paper format quite problematic. It is obvious, then, why digital medical records are being welcomed with open arms.

Tablets also allow access to medical imaging. The pressing criticism regarding this application speaks to how the use of this new technology will inevitably affect the performance of healthcare providers. Having direct access to patient data 24-7 means physicians can review data in real time, which may leave them compelled to access files in less than ideal situations, like when they are at dinner or on their way home. The advantage of the restrictions that come with paper files is that doctors actually have to seek out the file, sit down and review it, which puts them in a more present state of mind. How effective is someone’s review of data at the dinner table, or in the middle of a conversation? Aspiring healthcare professionals can definitely expect to confront these concerns in health courses on medical imaging and the like.

These changes in medical practices can be unnerving at first. Do we really want to have a diagnosis revealed to us through our computer screen? Is the digital archive of patient medical records safe from being hacked into? These questions are important ones to ask, especially since the people who produce all the applications and those who use them still do not know all of the answers.

As is the case with all digital behaviour, what we need to aim for is moderation. What we hope for from  medical professionals is that they honour their healthcare training to the fullest, and slowly incorporate digital advancements so that the quality of their professionalism is never undermined.

 

Visit Mohawk College for more information on Health and Technology.