By Josip Cermin and Steve Deaton
Although it is argued that we are the products of our environment, in this day and age, we tend to be the products of the technologies in our environment. Our evolution now runs in close parallel to the evolution of our technology. Whether it’s managing bank accounts and shopping lists, maintaining relationships by communicating via talking, texting, and e-mail, or even simply identifying a restaurant and navigating to lunch, we can now do it all from a single device.
In comparing the capabilities offered through technology today to what was available even a few years ago, one thing is evident: evolution is not an occasional occurrence in technology, it is technology’s constant state. Every advancement acts as a stepping stone toward the next—with no end in sight.
As the devices and apps that we interact with have evolved by leaps and bounds over the past 5 years, so too have the underlying technologies and infrastructure upon which they run. Wi-fi and Bluetooth are being used by everyone, everywhere, on practically every device, while 5 MHz wireless routers enable incredible speeds. We are/will be co-hosting servers on the web. The importance of such advancements is in the way technology will improve healthcare: by enabling the care cycle to function outside the walls of hospitals and clinics.
For too long we have talked about healthcare being behind other industries in technology adoption. Are we ready to leapfrog them now? The technologies are there. Google provides technologies that can improve healthcare. The Apple Genius Bar is another great example. For care providers and patients alike, these technologies will bring the advancements to healthcare.
A new standard for technology used by radiologists will involve the ability to freely read for hospitals and outside clinics from anywhere, with any device, through flexible and secure access to PACS functionalities on entirely web-based interfaces. All the necessary tools and more will be available in one place, allowing radiologists to be fully effective with nothing beyond a smartphone on hand.
Soon enough we will see one smartphone used for ordering baseball tickets, and then immediately changed over to an app that directs the savvy patient to the nearest doctor with the shortest wait and the best online reviews, just so they can get a flu vaccine before going to the game. This creates a tremendous opportunity for companies like ours to create software that not only connects the patient to the healthcare facility, but gives them the ability to interact and actually participate in the treatment cycle. Access to endless knowledge and interaction has offered today’s population control over the outcomes of their actions. The evolved patients of today will continue to pursue what technology has provided: a greater sense of engagement that leads to better decision-making and empowerment over their care plans.
In medical imaging, it is no longer a debate of “if” you are digital, it’s how fast, how integrated, and who can now securely access those images across the enterprise.
Beyond medical image acquisition, in the software stratosphere, the driving factors are now what types, how much, and how quickly information is exchanged, on-the-fly. The leaders now have zero download streaming access, and only the best have that access to all information and for all physicians and referrers, inside and outside of the healthcare system. The technology is there—it’s how we leverage it for healthcare. Considering the meaningful use requirements in healthcare’s future, it won’t be long before we see imaging done in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, with a patient’s suite opened and prepped, and the physician reviewing the patient’s records—all before they reach the hospital.
The focus on patient safety and improved outcomes has risen to new heights. And with the automation, connectivity, and faster, secure exchange of accurate data, healthcare facilities can achieve them.
As care teams continue to develop and radiology becomes a more integrated component in the care and treatment of patients, beyond the initial diagnosis, tools will need to evolve—to be smaller, faster, and more cost-effective.
Josip Cermin is the president and founder of Viztek. Steve Deaton is the vice president of Viztek.