Technology is Catching Up to the Dream

By Peggy Salvatore, MBA

About 8 years ago, I started Health System Ed as an educational portal about the value of health information technology. It started with a blog called “Imagine” that described the dream of having all relevant patient information, all the time, in real time, to make good decisions about the patient in front of you based on best practices that had been determined by measuring what treatments worked in which patients.

Lately, as I write about genomics and sensored medical devices, it is clear that we are oh-so-close to the dream. In 2010, I didn’t have a clue how long it would take to achieve lift-off. Today, all the pieces are in place for people (masquerading as patients to the healthcare system) to know what is going on inside their bodies even before they manifest illness sometimes.

  • Scientists and researchers can peer inside the genetic code to see what has gone awry, and they can snip, delete and replace poor genetic codes.
  • Doctors can measure results by getting information about the patient in real time – whether it is a glucose reading to track the efficacy of your medication dosage, a heart rate monitor looking for signs of trouble, or a sensored knee brace telling your orthopedic surgeon whether you are doing your rehabilitative exercises
  • Patients can know how they are doing and adjust their behaviors
  • Payers know what works, what to pay for, and when to implement resource utilization strategies to encourage best practices

The electronic patient record systems are mostly in place now to capture information. They may need to be tweaked, upgraded, or replaced with the next generation of software, but the infrastructure is in place today. Next, we will build the analytics to turn data into usable information.

One of the most beneficial aspects of capturing patient data – everywhere, all the time – is that ultimately people will get the most effective treatment first which will drive down costs to the system and extend the healthy human life span. When we know what works in whom, it is a much shorter trip from disease to health.

It is nothing but exciting. We aren’t there yet. But we can see “there” from here.

Peggy is an author and writer who specializes in healthcare.


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