Our lives are increasingly transformed by technology, and healthcare is possibly the most impressive example of digital transformation. The case for digital patient records is compelling: it can make healthcare more efficient, more personalized, and even improve the treatment outcomes. While I strongly believe that many of these new digitized systems have already improved patient safety, the shift away from paper has also accelerated the advancement of medical data analytics and the identification of new patterns in disease.
As healthcare providers work to swapping over to Electronic Healthcare Records (EHR), the daily increase of connected data provides more points of reference for doctors and physicians to better understand symptoms and ailments. How? EHRs don’t just contain or transmit information, they “compute” it. This means that healthcare providers not only have reliable access to a patient’s complete health information, but that the EHRs are able to manipulate and analyze the information in ways that would otherwise take months or years of detailed research.
This comprehensive picture can help providers diagnose patients’ problems sooner. Additionally, EHRs can help improve public health outcomes, especially in the field of chronic lifestyle diseases like diabetes and heart disease, which are prevalent here in the Middle East. In the UAE alone, we are already witnessing how the new computerized systems and EHRs have dramatically decreased errors from doctor’s illegible prescriptions and poor translations, improved quality of care, and increased convenience for patients. But, the system is still new and I am thrilled at the potential it could achieve in a few years’ time.
I envision hospitals tinkering with their EHRs to generate customized on-screen dashboards, so that physicians can receive real-time pop-up messages informing them about clinical presentations, diagnostic work, and therapeutic choices to help guide them in making informed medical decisions.
Patients will also become empowered to play a more active role in their health – by having access to specific details about their health parameters and illnesses, they can present medical records to other healthcare professionals and expand their network of treatment.
Furthermore, how doctors spend their time will fundamentally change forever, as they will no longer be required to invest huge quantities of time into ordering diagnostics or interpreting results, as these functions will become automated. Instead, the doctor of the future will be adding a human touch to patient care by advising and analyzing treatment options with them and helping personalize their healthcare journey.
While EHRs still have a long way to go to realize their full capabilities, the evidence is overwhelming that they initiate safer, cheaper, and more effective healthcare. I believe that with these types of data-driven medical tools, modern healthcare will become more integrated and synergistic, thus boosting global collaboration and medical advancements.
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