They are now turning to advanced technology to achieve this, including automated diagnostic equipment, electronic patient records and remote client monitoring systems. Technology is revolutionising healthcare, making it more mobile, improving care outcomes for patients and lowering the cost of care.
Healthcare is a major cost in all developed countries. In the US, for example, healthcare spending is expected to reach 20% of GDP by 2015. Along with the benefits, many new techniques bring new costs and, in many countries, costs are also being pushed up by populations that are ageing and overweight. Healthcare organisations are looking for new and more efficient ways to manage care delivery in order to keep the costs to manageable levels. Technology has an important role to play in this, not just in reducing costs, but also in improving the quality of service provided.
Health Informatics, eHealth and mHealth are terms that are used to describe the use of electronic equipment including networked computers, mobile devices and the Internet to streamline the delivery of healthcare. New technology has enabled the introduction of electronic patient records, telemedicine and patient information systems that are now accessible via the Internet. All of these technologies are part of the managed care approach that has been introduced in the US in an attempt to control healthcare costs and make the system more sustainable. Juniper Research expects mHealth in the US to become a two billion dollar business by 2014.
One of the strongest trends in healthcare today is the move towards delivering care remotely, using wireless technology and remote sensors to augment the skills of the care provider on the spot. This allows care to be delivered in the patient’s home, in an ambulance, or at a local clinic. However, the rate of adoption is still slow and wireless technologies have only just begun to penetrate the market.
M2M is one technology that can reduce costs in a wide range of care situations, by making it possible to automate remote monitoring, remote diagnosis and remote delivery of expertise. This can bring a new sense of empowerment to patients and vital real-time data to providers. The emerging use of M2M in healthcare is one of the most compelling examples of ‘smart business’. Its adoption is being driven by changing demographics, particularly the increase in elderly patients, and the availability of new technology and advances in medical treatment. Up until now, uptake has been slow due to resistance to change among healthcare organisations and clinicians, misaligned incentive structures, concerns about privacy and the availability of finance where there are many competing priorities for funding. However, new developments in the healthcare sector are likely to speed up the rate of adoption. These include funding agencies requiring safety monitoring boards to oversee clinical trials and provide more data, new requirements from insurance companies and greater clinical evidence which proves the cost effectiveness of mHealth.
M2M-enabled solutions will make healthcare more personal. They will be used, for example, to monitor a patient’s condition whether they are in a care facility or at home. M2M services will make it possible for a physician to make a remote diagnosis based on the transmission of vital signs or other clinical data from one device to another. Patients will also have devices they can use at home to monitor their own conditions or fitness regimes. M2M will be used by div> al sis byvicesse structur