Today we all observe steadily growing use of electronic communication and informational technologies in Health sector, in Switzerland as well as almost everywhere else in the world.
There are some key-factors that particularly encourage healthcare domain technical progress as they propel medical routine to the new heights of interaction with patients and medical data.
The everyday widening use of smartphones is now making it out to healthcare, showing us that even small form factor devices can be adopted in clinical care. Mobile applications paired up with wearable devices and sensors are able to track your health condition, checking your heart rate and sending you a real-time text alert that your blood pressure or sugar level is too high.
The emergence of VoIP has allowed healthcare institutions to leverage the same IT infrastructure, backbone to support data and voice traffic. More importantly, it has created communication flexibility that started with mobility and is now evolving into applications.
For many hospitals, WLAN today counts more devices connected than the LAN by wires. Now it encompasses guest Internet access, various medical devices, big and small, phone and video units, and many others.
We can also see today’s medical devices extremely fast evolving and becoming more and more integrated into a network, human error is increasingly contained which decreases re-admission rates. We definitely move to an era where all devices are communicating and co-acting as an orchestra.
Virtualization is increasing the consolidation of healthcare services onto dedicated server farms and a high level of availability and redundancy.
Introduction of XML-format into healthcare routine by healthcare software developers, insurers, etc. made possible electronic invoicing, including invoices forms, tariffs, tariff codes, response codes, sending PDF-documents, for ex. medical reports.
The IT solutions that clinics are investing in are promising to be leveraged for big data analysis to provide insights for improved clinical results. But at the same time, one of the biggest challenges here is how to share all this sensitive data while respecting medical information privacy.
Today’s healthcare changes are forcing IT solutions to focus more on patient’s service delivery rather than pure technology control. Various government mandates and programs like eHealth in Switzerland, HITECH and HIPAA in the US and may others across the world that are in active promotion these days are critically influencing the way that medical institutions invest in their IT representation, making all serious medical field players care about how much they keep pace with healthcare digitalization trend.
In Switzerland, a national e-health service called eHealth Suisse (an administrative unit of the Federal Office of Public Health [FOPH]) is coordinated by the federal and cantonal governments and has three sets of responsibilities. First, all providers in Switzerland should be able to collect and store information on their patients’ treatment electronically. Second, health-related websites and online services will be required to undergo quality certification and a national health website will be constructed. Third, necessary legal changes will be made to realize these measures.
A key element of eHealth Suisse is the SHI subscription card, which encodes a personal identification number and all necessary administrative data for each patient. If allowed by the insured person, information about allergies, illnesses, and medication can be recorded on the card. The insured person also decides who is allowed access to this information.
Some hospitals have merged their internal clinical systems in recent years and hold interdisciplinary patient files. However, the extent of this integration varies greatly among hospitals and among cantons.
This entire evolving technical environment is truly a hotbed for various IT solutions created and getting widely used specifically in healthcare and insurance. We’ll take a closer look on their range in the upcoming post. Stay tuned!