Future Trends in Healthcare

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Future Trends in Health Care
Shirley W. Crabtree March 14, 2011 HCS/533 Michael E. Lambert

Future Trends in Health Care

Smart Phones, I-Pads, I-Pods, Blue Tooth, Blackberry, GPS, On-Star – wherever we go and wherever we want to go, and when – ‘there’s an App for that.’ Whether we like it or not, and even whether or not we choose for it to be that way, our personal lives, our work lives, and even our health issues are constantly impacted by technology. We may complain but in reality, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Health care technology can be as simple and as close as a hand-held computer at the bedside of a patient, a monitor worn by the patient, or the sound of an alarm at the possibility of a medication error. Health care technology also can be almost unimaginable and distant as a surgeon in another state guiding the instruments as a robot performs delicate brain surgery in the community hospital operating room. The futuristic fantasy world of Star Trek and Star Wars is today’s technology. Dr. “Bones” McCoy’s Tricorder seems almost archaic compared to current medical technology. R2-D2 and C-3P0 have nothing on today’s health care robots. Robots can deliver laboratory information and specimens to another floor of the hospital, maneuvering around corners, avoiding obstacles, entering and leaving elevators, and even deciding the best route to take to achieve its mission.

In the discussion of future trends in health care, including the impact of distance delivery on health care, and the current and future impact of telemedicine; the emphasis is telemedicine in relationship to care for the rapidly- growing population of frail elderly.

Telemedicine
Small communities in the United States are often at a disadvantage when they need access to modern health care. Frail elderly individuals may not have transportation to see a doctor, if there is even a doctor near enough to see. According to Massey, Appel, Buchanan, and Cherrington (2010), “Individuals living in rural communities often encounter difficulties obtaining appropriate health care because of distance from health clinics; financial limitations, cultural barriers, mistrust, communication issues, and high rates of heal illiteracy” (p. 20). In many cases, telemedicine is the solution to health care isolation for these individuals.

“Telemedicine is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve patients’ health status” (Wagner, Lee & Glasser, 2009, p. 128). Medical information may be exchanged from one physician to another physician, or the information may be exchanged between the patient and the physician or other care provider. Telemedicine allows patients in rural or medically underserved areas to receive adequate healthcare. Two physicians talking on the telephone about treatment for a patient is a form of telemedicine, as is a satellite videoconference between two providers in different parts of the world. Telemedicine brings the knowledge and experience of a far-away specialist into the office of a small community healthcare facility, or transfers the x-ray of a patient in a small community to a radiologist in another community.

“Mobile telemedicine refers to telemedicine applications in which the participants are located at a distance to each other as well as mobile” (Wurm, Hoffmann-Wellenhof, Wurm, & Soyer, 2008, p. 107). Mobile telephones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) are used to deliver patient information. Mobile telemedicine is especially important for use by EMS personnel before and during transport of a patient to a hospital or for monitoring a patient while he or she is moved within a hospital or...
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