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The Impact of Technology in Healthcare
31 December 2017
30 November 2020
7.17 minutes

It’s amazing to look back and see just how far our world has come technologically. If someone from 100 years ago suddenly found themselves in today’s world, they would think they had been teleported into another dimension.

The same can be said about technology in healthcare. It has improved the overall operational efficiency, enhanced standards in patient care. Healthcare technology has transformed and enhanced the entire experience for both patients and medical professionals.

The top healthcare technologies & trends within the healthcare industry are revolutionising the sector.  Although the Australian healthcare sector has adopted some of these technologies, we continue to lag behind other western countries in introducing the technologies.

The Heath Workers Union believes that in order to continue to deliver best practise healthcare, we must invest & introduce the following trends and innovations in our hospitals, aged care sector, community health centres & other health related work places.

Top 5 Healthcare Technology Trends and Innovations

1. Availability of Information and big data
The accessibility of data and the means to store and process it is a hallmark of the technological age. The Internet, intranet systems, search features and the ability for healthcare professionals to rapidly share information have enhanced the synthesis and analysis of data. 

“Big data” in healthcare allows the entire field to benefit from comprehensive research studies. These endeavours can access larger and more diverse population groups than ever before. 

The availability of fast & high level data can be used to automatically identify risk factors and recommend the right preventative treatment by comparing patient data with data from thousands of other patients.

Furthermore, people living in rural and regional areas will benefit from this technology.  At the same time, disabled persons and people from NESB may also benefit. The successful introduction of Australia's NBN will have a significant impact on the success & roll out of this technology in our health sector. 

2. Improved Communication
Technological innovations in healthcare have facilitated much smoother communication within healthcare organisations. Medical professionals can now use media such as video, online discussion platforms and real-time meeting capacities to communicate and advance the spread of knowledge in the field. 

The availability of Electronic medical records in-house (as compared to a paper trail) can be accessed by all relevant departments (for example, between the Emergency Department and Psychiatric departments) and care providers. This results in improved case management, treatments and patient recovery.

3. Electronic Medical Records
In the past, medical information from visits to the General Practitioner (GP), medical specialist, allied health professionals and the dentists were held in separate locations with different health practitioners and hospitals. Electronic medical records allow all patient histories, test results, diagnoses and relevant information to be stored centrally in an online database. 

Access of this data by medical professionals allows for more focused and real time care as well as the ability to see health trends for each individual. 

The introduction of new, more user friendly Medical billing systems allow hospitals, clinics and medical practices to run much more smoothly and increase productivity.

4. Telemedicine/Telehealth
Telemedicine/Telehealth services such as video-conferencing are becoming cost effective ways to complement local health services. It is particularly beneficial to those living in rural, regional and remote communities and requiring regular access to medical specialists who live several kilometres away. 

Generally you have a GP, other medical practitioners, nurse practitioners, midwives, health workers and practice nurses providing face-to-face clinical services to the patient during the teleconsultation with the specialist to ensure the correct procedures are carried out. 

In the 2017-18 Federal Budget, the Australian Government announced funding of $9.1 million over four years from 2017-18 to enable Australians who live in rural and regional Australia to access Better Access services via video conferencing.

Medicare-funded telehealth services are also available to residents of eligible aged-care homes and to patients of Aboriginal Medical Services across Australia.

5. Mobility and Mobile Apps
Mobile software applications (that is, mobile apps) are key to improving accessibility for patients and healthcare professionals. Mobile apps enable people to easily manage their health and wellbeing; everything from prompting them to get check-ups, to finding general medical information or accessing their test results securely online 24/7 without having to book in an appointment with their GP and wait days for results. 

Healthcare professionals on the other hand, can quickly access information relating to diseases and drugs, images for clinical matters, continued education activities and so on.
The Health Workers Union has invested in the development of an Aged care & Disability Apps. Health Workers Union Members can download the Aged Care App from our website & the Disability APP will be accessible before the end of 2017.

The Health Workers Union plans to develop additional APPS for other health industries or sectors. We encourage members with ideas about new Apps to contact the HWU and share their ideas.

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