How has healthcare IT evolved over the years? What are the current trends in the Asia Pacific region?
The availability of basic telephony in a hospital in olden times is representative of IT in its infancy in healthcare. Today healthcare IT has emerged as a potent enabler and a panacea to surmount the Malthusian challenge of the slow growth of resources. It is the means to improve the quality of care, to catalyse delivery of standards based healthcare, to effectively reduce medical errors, to drive down healthcare cost, to improve work efficiency, to deliver better patient experience and to deliver healthcare services to remote geographies.
In Asia Pacific, countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and Japan are faced with the twin challenge of a growing ageing population and the shortage of experienced nursing staff. On the other hand, Asian countries such as China, India, Indonesia and Thailand are faced with a rising wave of expectation from their young and productive middle class growing in affluence and demanding better quality of healthcare.
Governments and care-givers are looking to healthcare IT to find solutions and to manage key priorities such as:
- Digitisation of national healthcare records. This is fast becoming a priority in many countries in the region. In Singapore, the implementation of nationwide e-health records system is underway, while Hong Kong is implementing a patient portal on which healthcare workers can reliably and securely access patient information on-the-go.
- Adoption of mobility to improve patient care. Adoption of healthcare mobility is being explored to drive better patient experience, enable care-givers to access patient information on the go, and improve collaboration and exchange of data rich information among care-givers for a better outcome.
- Consumerisation of IT. IT managers are expected to prepare the organisation for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend, including framing policies that help manage the personal devices on the network and enforcement of right levels of security.
- Adoption of IT for improved patient care outcome. This includes the use of advanced data capture technologies and innovative patient care applications to reduce human error and to ensure a better outcome.
- Extending patient care beyond face-to-face interaction. Using faster access technologies to deliver remote healthcare. Healthcare could be delivered to the doorsteps of chronic care patients or the elderly. Similarly, countries with a large proportion of its people living in rural areas or in remote areas could leverage healthcare IT to deliver healthcare remotely.
The British science fiction writer late Arthur C. Clarke wrote in Profiles of the Future, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". Today, one can safely say that healthcare IT is poised to unleash magic.
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