UPDATED 11.1.17

Is technology advancing the benefits of healthcare for consumers?  The answer to this question varies widely, but technology has led to several practical benefits for consumers.  Here are a few:

  1. Expand the reach of healthcare to rural area and less developed countries, where hospitals and medical clinics are not easily accessible.  Through online streaming, local practitioners can confer with colleagues around the world to help diagnose and care for patients.
  2. Speed up the healthcare process from diagnosis, to care and finally recovery.  Doctors can access information faster, communicate with professionals 24/7, schedule treatments and follow up on recovery plans in shorter windows of time.
  3. Provide consumers with access to medical records and data for more informed decision making.
  4. Hold medical professionals accountable for their diagnosis and treatment plans.  Consumers can access online data to learn about their conditions and better educate themselves so they can work with medical professionals on treatment options.
  5. Quicker access to insurance plans, coverage benefits and limits.   Technology helps consumers find providers who offer treatment for specific illnesses and issues.
  6. Access to detailed medical financial records, allowing consumers to better plan their financial requirements for health care.
  7. Data archiving.  Patients can review past medical history, treatment plans and outcomes.
  8. Better tools for proactive planning for specific medical needs such as pregnancy, health and wellness and long term treatment plans.
  9. Fitness apps such as Fitbit, Apple Fitness, and Garmin help consumers track their health and wellness and are essential for a proactive healthy lifestyle.
  10. Online forums, blogs and healthy lifestyle websites such as “Positive Health & Wellness” help consumers live a more active and healthy life.
  11. Virtual Reality will become increasingly important as a tool that will be used in the education of patients and healthcare professionals.  In addition, VR is a great way to overcome patient and doctor age differences, view operations in progress and allow patients to disengage from an operation with virtual entertainment.  Check out “Balance me Beautiful’s” post to learn more.

The cost of medical technology is still an open book, as providers invest in electronic medical record systems, ramp up their usage and educate consumers.  Costs will decrease when consumers become comfortable with electronic records, the systems become fully operational and providers learn how to leverage their benefits.

So, is technology advancing the benefits of healthcare for consumers?   Yes, consumers are benefiting.  The upside for healthcare tech is significant once the development and implementation “bumps” are smoothed over, costs will decrease and patient benefits will soar.

For more information on the use of technology in the medical world read these articles:

Balance Me Beautiful:  “Extreme Ways Technology is Improving our Health”
Positive Health Wellness:  “8 ways Technology is improving your health”

Forbes:  “How technology is evolving to help make healthcare better”
Economist:  “A digital revolution in healthcare is speeding up”
Harvard Business Review:  “Simple digital technologies can reduce health care costs”