You already know that heart disease is the most common cause of death around the world. The underlying cause of death that accounts for nearly 836,546 deaths in the US annually is cardiovascular disease. By 2030, it is estimated that direct costs associated with cardiovascular disease will reach $1 billion annually.
With such alarming numbers, it is imperative that Cardiologists and healthcare institutions embrace technology and IT services as a way to improve efficiencies and provide a better service to their patients. Image capture, display, and management, tabulating simple clinical data items, and dealing with massive EHR systems are just a few examples of how technology has already changed the way you practice medicine. However, a new wave of technology, powered by Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to transform the healthcare industry, and high-level, healthcare, specific IT support is going to play a pivotal role in this progress.
In this article, we are going to talk about 5 technologies that could have a major impact on the healthcare industry and Cardiology over the next few years and offer millions of patients more timely and better diagnostics. Healthcare institutions across the nation are already considering these technologies as they look for ways to optimize their efficiency and offer a better experience for their patients. Working with an experienced IT health provider like Reliable IT Healthcare can help healthcare organizations adopt these technologies faster and tailor them to fit the workflow of the individual practice or organization.
You make decisions based on data every day. To do so, you usually have to analyze a large volume of data very quickly. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning can provide you with a set of tools to augment and extend your effectiveness.
You probably remember, Watson, the IBM Artificial Intelligence powered supercomputer that beat two professional players in the game of Jeopardy in 2011. It was the first public display of the power of AI and how it can be applied to solve very complex problems. In 2015, IBM created a new business unit, IBM Watson Health, focused on the development of Artificial Intelligence technology for the Health industry. This is just one of many examples of big corporations trying to improve healthcare through Artificial Intelligence.
In 2016, the data science platform Kaggle organized its Second Annual Kaggle Data Science Bowl: Transforming How We Diagnose Heart Disease. This competition challenged scientists to create a method to measure end-systolic and end-diastolic volumes in cardiac magnetic resonance images from more than 1,000 patients. The winning team was able to create an algorithm using Convolutional Neuronal Networks that was able to analyze the images and provide a diagnosis in a very short period of time. If you compare this with the 20 minutes that can take a trained Cardiologist to do the same task, there is a strong case for leveraging this kind of technology for a faster diagnosis.
Other areas where Artificial Intelligence can improve the cardiology practice are an identification of bottlenecks and inefficiencies within departments or processes and analysis of the best protocols for treating patient subgroups that have a specific mix of various diseases.
Over the last years, we have observed an increased used of wearable devices. Technologies that allow for remote monitoring of patients could mean cost savings ranging from reduced hospital visits and more effective and timely adjustments to treatment to increased patient engagement.
In 2017, Apple in partnership with the Stanford University launched a new app, Apple Heart Study app, that was able to gather irregular heart rhythm data from the Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor and send notifications to users who may be suffering from atrial fibrillation (AFib). The information collected by the app will help researchers, and doctors better understand a disease that impacts more than 6 million people in the USA and is very hard to detect.
Some of the devices that are already changing the way we monitor our health and specifically our heart are Zio, a water-resistant sensor that a patient can wear for up to 14 continuous days. At the end of the two-weeks, the patient sends the sensor back to the company, where the data collected by the device can be analyzed to detect arrhythmias. Alive, a device that uses a finger pad attached to the back of the phone to record a 30-second rhythm strip. The data is sent to a cloud-based storage service and is made available for immediate analysis by a doctor.
The proliferation of wearable devices and related apps have risen potential data privacy concerns for patients. But they also potentially pose the risk of serving as a launching pad for attacks directed at healthcare entities. if a consumer transmits data from a wearable device to a healthcare entity, the organization is also potentially liable under HIPAA to safeguard protected health information that’s contained in the data.
The FDA is taking the cybersecurity risks very seriously and is working on new rules to regulate cybersecurity management on wearable devices better. As more and more healthcare institutions adopt wearable devices and move further into digitalization, cybersecurity issues will increase and pose a major challenge to the protection of patient data.
Healthcare institutions should take data privacy and security very seriously and be aware of the implications that a security breach can have for their business.
Next Generation Electronic Health Records
An Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a systemized collection of patient data that makes this data available instantly and securely to authorized users. It is the improved electronic equivalent of a traditional paper medical record. EHR is used by more than 50% of American Physicians. The fact that there is a still a high number of physicians not using an EHR poses some significant challenges.
The development of Artificial Intelligence and the role it can play in helping physicians make better decisions and improve their operations has made several EHR vendors (such as Allscripts, Cerner, eClinicalWorks, and Epic) announce their plans of adding AI capabilities in the next version of their EHR platforms. With AI-powered capabilities, EHR systems would have a more relevant role for healthcare institutions.
Uberization of Healthcare
Consumers today expect prompt outcomes, they want to buy a product or download an app in a few seconds and with just one click. They do not want to wait several days for a lab report or have to take time off work for a blood draw, for imaging, or to review test results with a nurse. Healthcare service models will rapidly change to more closely resemble the service models of digital companies like Amazon, Apple, and Uber.
One way to approach these service models is through telemedicine and wearable devices. Patients using their own smartphones and wearable devices as diagnostics tools can upload this data to a cloud-based service where a professional can analyze the data in seconds with the support of Artificial Intelligence algorithms. Data and diagnosis become integrated with next-generation EHS systems to provide patients with rapid access to their data.
All these new trends provide an opportunity for Cardiologists who are prepared to take the next step in technology and patient care delivery. Partnering with an experienced IT support provider like Reliable IT Healthcare will help you take advantage of these and other technologies at your pace – to improve your efficiency and better serve your patients.
Reliable IT Healthcare specializes in helping forward-thinking cardiologists and healthcare organizations who understand that computers and technology are necessary and fundamental tools of their success. We have IT support professionals that specialize in Healthcare IT ready to assist you.
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