Today, we find ourselves in the midst of the Information Age. If you’re paying for your morning coffee with your cellphone or Skyping with a friend on another continent, you are contributing to a digital revolution that shows no sign of slowing down. Emerging technologies fundamentally shape our everyday lives, and this has proven no less true in healthcare. From patient care to file management, healthcare information technology (HIT) has revolutionized the medical industry over the past two decades by helping doctors provide better, more accessible healthcare.
Despite these advancements, doctors have expressed some frustrations about the technological revolution occurring in their workplace. As recently as 2014, a study reported that doctors wasted on average four hours per week on solely managing HIT. The struggle to adapt to HIT, known as technological iatrogenesis, has enflamed aggravation for doctors and patients alike. Thus, it remains essential that hospitals adopt the best technology available, so that technology can facilitate, not impede, patient care. HIT should work for doctors—not the other way around.
Indeed, many facets of HIT can actually progress the healthcare industry when properly embraced, thereby avoiding technological iatrogenesis. Electronic health records (EHRs) exemplify HIT’s successes; they demonstrate how HIT can help streamline patient care by expediting the transfer of patient information. Whereas handwritten paper medical records caused misplaced filings and sloppy handwriting that resulted in medical errors, the evolution of EHRs has cut down on such mistakes. The VA, for example, reports that EHRs have helped doctors increase their productivity by six percent per year. So confident is the government in HIT that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 invested $22 billion in modernizing the healthcare industry, including increasing hospitals’ use of EHRs.
With so many medical images, healthcare has turned to a new development within HIT to facilitate the storage and utilization of these records: the cloud. Before, patients would have to procure their images by manually burning them onto CDs. These CDs are cumbersome to manage, and they often could get lost or damaged. For many doctors, the CD method of image sharing can hinder their capacity to consistently offer quality healthcare. The cloud, by contrast, enables doctors to share images with colleagues, automate work-flow management, and integrate with PACs, all in record time.
While a relatively new concept, cloud-based image storage has already shown to be very beneficial to doctors. By being able to access these images with any desktop, tablet, or phone, doctors can quickly evaluate CTs, MRIs, PET scans, etc. rather than managing physical CDs or reordering previously-done tests. Doctors can then make life-saving decisions thanks to the time EHRs save. Cloud-based image storage has also shown its value when doctors need to provide second opinions. With immediate access to the cloud, hospitals and patients can upload studies to the cloud so doctors can immediately access them and provide their opinion.
Companies like Ambra enable doctors to seize on all these advantages by offering a cloud-based image storage account that lets them view, store, and transfer medical images anytime, anywhere. With programs like these, doctors can avoid the frustrations associated with technological iatrogenesis and instead fully embrace HIT, ultimately allowing them to better care for their patients.