One of the recurring themes we’ve discussed on this blog is how to demonstrate the value of digital in healthcare. It’s all very well for self-proclaimed experts t o talk about how important it is to embrace the digital revolution, but what impact is it really having? Are digital advancements really useful or are we all just taking part in a mad scramble to try out the latest fad?
Recently, we’ve seen a number of studies which look to answer some of these questions regarding the value of digital communications tools, some of which we’ve mentioned on this blog. They have looked to provide genuine statistical insights into how digital comms and social media are being used by patients and healthcare providers alike.
Equally interesting though is the increasing amount of new digital healthcare diagnostic tools which are emerging to change the healthcare landscape as we know it. Whilst not immediately linked to comms, the impact they are having and the credibility they are gaining could potentially cause a general shift in attitudes towards digital within the healthcare industry.
A new study by the Mayo Clinic published in the November issue of the American journal Stroke, looks specifically at the efficacy and quality of smartphone teleradiology applications in capturing medical images to evaluate stroke patients. Researchers compared the quality of images from the smartphone app to those traditionally viewed via desktop computers to determine he level of agreement between traditional interpretation routes and new images and scans on smartphones interpreted by telestroke doctors. The study found that the smartphone images compared well to the traditional desktop images, which could have significant benefits for stroke care in the future.
In the past, digital has often felt like a slightly unknown quantity, perhaps great for sharing information and driving conversation, but difficult to measure in terms of real impact. However, as we start to see studies like this published in reputable medical journals, it is hard not acknowledge the potential digital has to radically improve healthcare provision.
Dr. Robert Pearl, the executive director and CEO of the Permanente Medical Group, goes even further when talking about the impact of technology on healthcare. Permanente are the largest managed healthcare organisation in the U.S and have developed a number of iPhone apps as well as using entirely electronic medical records to help people manage their health. In this interview he claims that there would be 200,000 fewer heart attacks and strokes every year if every American had access to the same care that his organization provides.
Quite a bold claim, but whatever its truth, it is hard to ignore the increasing influence digital technology is already having on the healthcare industry and how it could totally transform the future for healthcare professionals and patients alike.