While healthcare and technology are certainly working together to achieve medical advances, the healthcare sector seems to be somewhat slow in adapting the communication technologies to its daily operations. Advances in information technologies have helped almost every industry manage data storage and processing. It seems to be the opposite for the healthcare sector, where one of the central problems has always been a lack of communication between different departments. Doctors with different specialties have not been able to communicate effectively about shared patients. There are also large amounts of information available that have not been properly analyzed nor used to improve the quality of performance.
Recent Healthcare IT news show advances in technology have not necessarily helped the healthcare industry solve these problems. The advances in technology have greatly increased the amount of data this sector has to handle, and healthcare providers are struggling to manage the information overload. It is estimated that the information volumes for the healthcare sector double every six months, making it even more difficult for managers to make proper use of the data.
Even when the new technologies are an important contributor of this rapid data growth, they are not the primary driver of this increase. A stronger element has been the primary influence: the global population is getting older. As we all can guess, with an older population come more health problems, and consequently more data for the health industry. According to the World Health Organization, between the years 2000 and 2050, the population over 60 years old will grow from 600 million to over 2 billion. As the population grows older, the focus of the healthcare sector will shift from acute care (brief serious illness) to long-term care for conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure. This shift results in even more data, and therefore, the healthcare industry should be looking for a solution that will allow them to properly manage all this information.
Chris Waden, from PwC, believes the healthcare sector is 10 to 15 years behind sectors like manufacturing and finance in adapting IT to the business. And while the sector as a whole seems to be behind in this kind of technology, the doctors are eager to include the communication technologies in their work. Physicians buy the latest gadgets with their own money because they want to incorporate the benefits these devices provide into their professional work.
Healthcare and technology are certainly working together, but still have a long way to go in the communications area. In an era in which information is everything, an industry like healthcare should be using its resources to find a better way to manage data. There is no doubt that recent IT advances can help the industry in several ways; they just need to incorporate it into the operations more efficiently.