Considering that technology literally drives the world, as we know it today, it is not surprising to note that there is no industry today that does not rely on it. Only the degree to which they have adopted it differs. Technology has also given impetus to the healthcare industry, helping it improve performance and service delivery. In fact, there is tremendous progress in clinical technology and information systems. This has given way to affordable, accessible and improved healthcare to the masses.
Healthcare industry – forging ahead with ICT
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has also introduced the concept of telemedicine, thereby extending the reach of medical services.
Taking it a step further, today healthcare organizations also have a strong presence online via their websites and social media networks to ensure that patients receive innovative healthcare solutions.
It was not always like this. In fact, the healthcare industry has the reputation for being slower in catching up with its adoption of ICT. This is unusual, considering the need for information sharing in the care process and also for managing finances, research and all the other activities that go into keeping the complex healthcare wheels running smoothly.
How ICT is transforming healthcare
Healthcare delivery is steeped in uncertainty and a number of variables. For one thing, patients are not equipped to diagnose their problem with accuracy or decide on action to takebased on their symptoms. The normal tendency is to approach a doctor who makes these decisions on their behalf.
Getting the desired outcome would rely on the modus operandi of information sharing at various stages of the care process. Even a minor slip up in availability of critical information can result in poor decisions that could cost lives. In this scenario, ICT has the potential to save lives by making it possible to store and exchange data that can be updated and accessed from anywhere, allowing the patient to receive quality care.
Besides its role within the healthcare organization, ICT also provides the information that policy makers and regulatory bodies need to monitor public health care delivery. It also facilitates the study of patterns in the system and performance trends, allowing the formulation of benchmarks.
While there is solid evidence on the impact of ICT in healthcare, the challenge lies in the costs involved in implementation and maintenance. That being said, ICT has the potential to empower the public by placing information in their hands enabling them make better health care choices.