Letter to the Editor

Technology revolution will affect healthcare

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Dear Editor:

When most people think about technology in healthcare, they think about the wonderful advancements that have been made in treating diseases through the use of advanced equipment, procedures and pharmaceuticals. Yet, there is an area in technology that is transforming healthcare in which most people may not be aware of or recognize. It is very important, not only for the healthcare industry, but for the patients that will be impacted by the advancement in this technology. This technology takes place in multiple fields that do not have patient contact but is so important to the quality of care that the patient will receive. This is information technology in such a format that allows a patient's medical record to be complete and attainable by the patient, their specialist, as well as their primary care physician to ensure that their care is managed. In the future the electronic patient record will be the norm that will allow those involved in the patient care to have fast, easy access to needed information.

One of the greatest time consuming problems in healthcare for individuals who may be referred to a specialist is the ability for that specialist to have the entire patient's medical record in front of them. Because part of the medical record will be in the patient's primary care physician's office or may be in the hospital where some tests were performed, or perhaps even in another specialist's office that they might have seen. The electronic record will bring this information together in one source. As we move into the future of healthcare, this technology will allow the patient to better manage their healthcare information, live a healthier life and will also impact the quality of care that they receive.

Technology is making great advancements in improving safety in healthcare. These technologies impact beyond the medical record to how facilities will administer medications, track disease management, such as diabetes, to improve the physician's ability to manage that patient's healthcare and to help other healthcare providers to ensure that the patient receives the type care at the right time and in the right form to ensure safety.

Healthcare also has a vested interest in how technology can improve efficiencies. When we look at what is happening in our society, we realize with the Baby Boomers retiring that the Medicare population will double in the next 15 years, but yet the workforce will grow smaller. So how will healthcare facilities, such as the hospital, manage and take care of more patients with less health care workers?

The answer is just on the horizon as we look at new technology to help provide the ability to manage the increasing number of patients per healthcare worker.

Healthcare truly will be going through an industry revolution over the next five to 10 years to meet these demands. The end result is efficient patient care in a safe patient-friendly environment. It is exciting for St. John's Hospital -- Cassville as we look at the future and continue planning and working on how we will embrace technology to improve the care and the health of our community.


Gary Jordan

President of St. John's Hospital-Cassville and Aurora