Healthcare News & Insights

Beyond EHRs: New health IT tools improving patient care and safety

When people think about health IT, they often first think of electronic health records, e-prescribing, and other software systems. But those aren’t the only tech tools that are helping improve healthcare. 

In addition to helping store and analyze patient records, hospitals and physician practices are using technology for all sorts of tasks to help reach more patients, deliver care more quickly and effectively, and protect patient safety.

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times highlights some of the ways healthcare facilities have are using IT now, such as:

  • A doctor-controlled robot UCLA hospital physicians are using to examine patients in other hospitals, or conduct exams for UCLA patients from their homes
  • Electronic ID tags that are read by sensors in sinks and hand sanitizer machines at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to keep track of whether doctors and nurses wash their hands.
  • A healthcare-specific social media network being developed at the Pittsburgh hospital that allows doctors and nurses to stay up-to-date on their patients’ health and symptoms, and
  • A system based on the Watson supercomputer developed by IBM and showcased on the game show Jeopardy last year that will comb through patients’ medical histories, as well as data from medical journals and clinical trials, to help doctors determine the best treatment methods for patients.

Beyond those and other devices and systems, more health IT tools are on the way. Tech forecasting firm Envisioning Technology recently launched an infographic with predictions about the future of technology in healthcare. Those predictions include:

  • New diagnostic tools, such as internal and external sensors and monitoring devices, as well as software to analyze streams of data
  • Telemedicine systems for remote monitoring and treatment and robotic care devices to assist patients in their homes, and
  • New treatments using stem cells and gene therapy, as well as advancements in prosthetics and sensory augmentation devices.

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