Technology is constantly evolving, and the health care industry is not immune to these changes. With technology improvements comes a trend toward miniaturization. Think about the first computers – these were impossibly large machines that took up entire rooms. As technology matured, the size of these devices shrank even as their power grew infinitely. Today, most of us carry in our back pockets devices far more powerful and faster than anything found in a lab just a few decades ago. Embracing this technology can lead to improvements in health care, for both patients and practices alike.
The Benefits of In-Clinic and At-Home Testing
As technology improves, jobs that were once the domain of specialty labs, requiring expensive equipment and a staff of highly trained technicians, can now be completed easily and efficiently at home. Nowadays, you don’t need special training or pricey equipment – just a reliable internet connection and a way to access information that is readily available online. Desktop or laptop computers, and even smartphones, have shifted the balance of power to the consumer.
Many in the health care industry embrace this change, seeing it as a positive for a variety of reasons. Supplying doctors and patients with data not only puts this information in the hands of those who will benefit from it the most, but it also translates to lower costs (and corresponding revenue growth), improved patient outcomes, and better access to health care.
Traditionally, the costs involved in assembling and operating equipment in centralized facilities translated to high diagnostic testing costs. Factor in hospital costs that include everything from staffing to insurance, and many routine tests become cost-prohibitive and time-consuming. With the mass manufacturing of consumer electronics, the cost reductions are significant. So too are the time savings; results that might have taken days in the past are now available in minutes. Because fast and accurate diagnoses are crucial for rapid treatment, instant results mean improved patient outcomes. These in-clinic and at-home tests provide a larger amount of data than in the past, giving the patient and provider the ability to monitor trends over time and adjust treatment plans accordingly.
Health Care at Your Fingertips
Of particular interest are the number of mobile health care apps available for download to your iPhone or Android smartphone. Dubbed by some as a virtual lab in a smartphone, mobile health apps allow the patient to conduct a range of diagnostic tests that previously would have only been available in a clinic or lab. These tests span the gamut from nutrition and cardiac health to cancer, pregnancy, drugs, and infectious diseases. Linking the smartphone app to the cloud and including the ability to use the smartphone’s camera to take pictures allows the patient to communicate in real time with their doctor.
Obviously mobile phones will never take the place of trained health care professionals, but they do provide a valuable tool in a patient’s overall health and can greatly improve outcomes while reducing costs. That’s a win/win for everybody.