Business technology has always served a vital role in healthcare, especially in diagnosis and treatment. More recently, advanced telecommunications technologies have fueled widespread changes throughout the healthcare industry. There is even an American Telemedicine Association, created to promote the use of advanced remote medical technologies.
More than 80 percent of physicians now regularly use a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device in their practice. Their somewhat larger size makes tablets especially useful for note-taking and reviewing images and charts.
Business technology developers are working to create an astounding range of medical-specific applications for both Apple and Android devices. In fact, the recently-held Hokie Health Code-a-Thon brought together multi-disciplinary teams for a 2-day competition to design new apps to enhance healthcare efficiency, quality and safety.
So what applications are trending this year?
Diagnosis and treatment top the list.
New apps that track peripheral devices enable patient-wearable devices that incorporate body sensors, to track and transmit patient activity or status – particularly alert triggers — to a remote phone. Numerous apps provide specific tools or all-in-one compilations of web-based drug references, disease clinical references, drug interaction checks and calculators, clinical images, even procedure videos.
Business technology drills down for very specific uses.
One smartphone-based mobile eye exam application enables inexpensive and much more accessible eye care for rural areas.
Teaching and continuing education are crucial.
Apps like Living Medical Textbooks provide dynamic content that’s automatically updated as new topic-related information becomes available. Many apps support continuing medical education (CME). And medical news is available via the New England Journal of Medicine, Harvard School of Public Health News and Med Page Today.
The “gamification” of health continues.
Games combine business technology with the special appeal of fun. They can be formatted for any age, making it easier to gather patient information and encourage treatment compliance. Fitness tracking games like Nike FuelBand are all the rage. And Prognosis: Your Diagnosis is a clinical case simulation game for medical practitioners and students.
Power to the patients.
Some apps are helping individuals maintain their own health records and comply better with treatment protocols. Other apps are designed to help locate providers or facilities and review facility ratings including care quality, etc.
Business technology like the “mobilization” of healthcare supports any-time, from-anywhere medicine reducing geographic barriers and ensuring greater accuracy. So look for mobile apps that emphasize speed and ease of use, without fluff or distracting extras.