Digital technology and innovation are helping healthcare organizations provide higher-level service for patients, with better diagnoses and care. This ongoing transformation of healthcare is also greatly shifting how doctors, nurses, patients and families are getting and communicating healthcare information.

These are five of the biggest healthcare trends reverberating through the industry now.

1. Responsive web design. Responsiveness is seldom what hospitals and other health organizations are recognized for. However, that’s changing as these entities come online. According to PEW Research, 72 percent of U.S. internet users acquired health-related information online last year. As the number of mobile users skyrockets, using Responsive Web Design (RWD) is crucial. RWD can automatically adapt to all different phones and devices for easy navigation, making a huge impact on how information is viewed and engaged.

The Children’s National Health System has found success with RWD. In 2014 nearly half of their website visits came from mobile devices. Their RWD includes interactive floor plans, personalization, social media integration and engaging content. This upgrade has paid huge dividends in page views (up 15 percent), session duration (up 161.45 percent) and donations (54 percent). John Berndt, CEO of the organization’s digital agency, TBG, says “[The] site is truly a model for patient-focused high content medical websites."

2. Telemedicine. Telemedicine is the future of healthcare everyone saw coming. Telemedicine gives patients and specialists remote access to each other from hospitals or even after they’ve left care.

One of the better examples of this technology is The ACT. It’s consists of a pendant and small electrodes a patient receives via mail and attaches themselves. The system monitors the heart automatically, transmitting information to a center using WiFi. Healthcare professionals get updates if anything unusual comes up and can contact the patient immediately.

The lack of rural health professionals has also lead to virtual partnerships between rural and urban healthcare sites. Doctors can virtually hear heartbeats, look into throats or ears and decide if they need to make the long trip to the urban centers. The Southern Illinois Telemedicine Initiative is taking advantage of this technology. With the initiative, patients arrive at a rural hospital with stroke symptoms and have instant access to a neuroscience specialty center that would be hours away from their homes. It also allows for one healthcare professional to simultaneously monitor the vitals of many patients, which decreases costs.

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