How Doctors Can Use Technology To Make Better Decisions
More data will take the guesswork out of treatment.
While visiting family in another state, let’s say you wind up in the hospital, and the staff needs access to your medical history. Even though you can’t reach your own doctor, the hospital physician is still able to consult your records … via a quick glance at a tablet or smartphone.
Thanks to the data cloud, your encrypted medical records will soon be available to you anytime, anywhere. This allows you and the appropriate health professionals to stay in constant contact about your medical care, with your medical information securely password protected, but always available. It’s a prime example of how greater access to data — for both patients and doctors — is vastly altering the way we manage our health.
Some of these changes in our health care are already here. Companies such as SAP have devised systems that guarantee health care technicians are giving you the right IV dosages, prescriptions are monitored for their side effects, and your doctors can be better informed on such things as the average length of stay for your particular medical issue. They can also make sure they’re using the latest treatment methods for you.
Still more changes are coming. Health care organizations are working with technology companies to personalize treatment for each cancer patient, taking into account their individual genomic information. The hope is that treatment will become less of a crap shoot: The systems will be able to predict an end result if cancer patients were to take one treatment plan over another.
With personalized therapy, there might be more progress on how we treat cancer — even the more difficult ones, where there hasn’t been much improvement so far.
These data-driven systems won’t ever replace doctors. They’re designed to cut down on mistakes and predict the results of whatever decision a doctor might make. The welcome paradox is that the latest advances in data analysis will lead us back to an era when doctors had the time to focus on their core mission: patient care.