InformationWeek Looks at 25 Years of Healthcare IT

InformationWeek Editor Alison Diana looks back at 25 years of healthcare and technology, and how this extremely important part of the US economy is changing with the times.

Sep 30, 2014

NEW YORK, Sept. 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Ever since the first mainframes rolled off the assembly line, technology has changed the way business is done. However, one industry that resisted the early tug of the computer age is now playing catchup: healthcare.

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In the past 25 years, healthcare has gone from a sector that virtually ignored new technology, such as PCs and digital records, to one that is being pushed and pulled from the government and patients into a new age. Now, the same disruptors that are affecting all businesses – mobile, social media, big data – are also changing the way doctors, nurses, and hospitals operate.

InformationWeek Editor Alison Diana is looking back at 25 years of healthcare IT innovations this week for the website. In her report, which includes interviews with several prominent healthcare and technology experts, Diana finds that IT has changed the doctor-patient relationship from one based on old-fashioned trust and knowledge to one that now requires the same rigorous look at analytics, data, and metrics that most other businesses use during their own transactions.

At first, the healthcare industry was slow to catch onto changes in information technology, making the adoption of electronic healthcare records difficult until the US government intervened more in the field over the last 10 years. Diana writes: "Lack of long-term vision, lack of financial incentives (internal or government), and pushback from clinicians prevented many organizations from investing in electronic health records (EHRs) and other tools viewed as the foundation of modern health IT. Those that did implement EHRs operated in a vacuum, seeing results within their organization but unable to share data beyond their walls."

Now, especially with the advent of the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," healthcare facilities and professionals are changing, which means the CIO and IT managers now have a bigger role to play. While the change to digital and web-based technology carries certain risks – data breaches, violations of federal law, lack of trust – it's also a time when more knowledge is being shared, not only among doctors, but with patients as well.

Diana writes: "It also is fueling researchers' creativity – sparking new theories, treatments, and cures for a spectrum of conditions. During the last 25 years, cancer treatment alone has been transformed. Now available is 4D technology to verify exact dosage, computerized treatment planning, and radiation beams shaped to almost exactly mold the tumor."

If you want to learn more about the last 25 years of healthcare IT innovations, check out InformationWeek this week. In addition, Diana writes about nine specific technology trends that are expected to affect the healthcare industry in the future.

Every day, InformationWeek looks at how technology is changing our lives, and the way business is done. If you need to stay up-to-date on technology, check out InformationWeek.

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