HMT's 2020 vision
By Rick Dana Barlow, Editor-at-large, January 2014
If you leapt into a spatial vortex that transported you back to the year 1966 and saw an episode of the new television series “Star Trek” for the very first time, you’d most likely marvel at the chirping hand-held communicators and those trusty tricorders with the beeping and multicolored blinky lights.
Man, the future was going to be so cool …
Roughly four decades later, you can call, compute, play games and music on your smartphone that can chirp, stream your favorite tune or whatever else piques your ringtone predilections. In fact, some companies already have produced hand-held devices that come this close to Mr. Spock’s trusty diagnostic and medical electronic sidekick.
Not to be outdone, Health Management Technology tapped into the predictive prowess of tech leaders to see what they think will matter six years from now in 2020. Of course, HMT had to weigh in with its own prognosticative possibilities, proffering six that span the “droll” non-tech ranks to the wacky flying car wannabes that aren’t too far out to be implausible. Tickle your tech buds with these:
- Surgeons, physicians and nurses faithfully and regularly remember to wash their hands. This most likely will increase demand and consumption of cleansing products, but it’s a small price to pay for minimizing, if not preventing, infection. Of course, if the opportunistic and market-savvy suppliers raise prices all bets are off.
- Surgeons, physicians and nurses more efficiently hand stuff off to one another. We’re not just talking about tools during a surgical procedure, but accurate patient intelligence during shift and workflow changes so that the service quality remains seamless and unwavering even when repackaged with different faces.
- Electronic health and medical records become as ubiquitous as ordering on Amazon.com. In fact, to blur the lines between hand-written legal pads and sticky notes the canvas for EHRs and EMRs during data input may look just like legal pad and sticky notes, if not simple forms, that enable caregivers and patients alike to write with their fingers or stylus via touch screen or type on a touch screen or even light-projected keyboard. This enables clinicians and patients to submit information from the relative comfort of just about anywhere with simple password-protected wireless Internet access or even check in from home.
- Coding finally becomes unilaterally standardized for procedure filing and pricing, patient billing, product and equipment ordering and usage and reimbursement either through direct adoption and implementation of a common schema or with the assistance of universal translation software packages. In essence, the various healthcare specialties effectively demonstrate how to talk to and with one another faster than the FBI, CIA, NSA and TSA share information.
- Wearable body sensors move to prime time. The typical scrubs and patient gowns make way for form-fitting, antimicrobial-coated, sensor-woven fabrics that can provide compression and wound-healing attributes as well as track an expanding array of internal vital signs that can be uploaded to handheld wireless devices and added to electronic records.
- Mobile robotic interfaces will roam hospital floors, allowing patients to meet with their doctors face-to-face via machine with ease. Such “virtual rounds” may expand to other clinical and administrative departments, too, such as clinical pharmacy, laboratory and radiology consults or supply chain intelligence gathering. And if discharged patients may not have online access via computer, tablet or smartphone, imagine hospital-controlled “drones” transporting these mobile robotic interfaces (MRIs redefined?) to give “house calls” a 21st-century re-interpretation and renaissance.
Has HMT missed anything that might make your jobs, as well as patient care effectiveness, efficiency and quality, more achievable? Send us your comments and thoughts via email at email@example.com, and we’ll share them with readers in an upcoming edition.