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Our world is vastly fueled by technology, so it’s no strange phenomena that patient care is being rapidly improved by technological advancements, too. At the head of these advancements lies the field of health care informatics.

Per the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), health care facilities are mandated to keep electronic records for every patient. This data allows other medical facilities, clinicians, and researchers to access and utilize patient information in ways that weren’t possible before.

As such, health care informatics merges health care with information technology and communications to improve patient care. Here are 5 practical ways this field is making that happen.

Telemedicine

Telemedicine gives doctors and patients the ability to communicate virtually, allowing them to engage visits via video conferencing. This is ideal for patients who wouldn’t otherwise be able to access health care due to being immobile, remotely located, or lacking in sufficient transportation. Telemedicine capabilities have also expanded to allow some medical facilities to perform detailed robotic surgical procedures from different locations.

Electronic Health Records

In compliance with the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) of 2009, all health care providers are required to maintain Electronic Health Records (EHRs). This legislation cleared the path for health informatics to grow and for providers to share patient information more efficiently.

The broader impact is reflected in how doctors can better diagnose and treat patients based on a fuller picture of their past and present health. More specifically, health care informatics has improved processes such as e-prescribing while helping to reduce healthcare disparities.

Cloud-Based Technology

With the abundance of data pouring into health care facilities through EHRs, the cloud has evolved into a trusted means for sharing and storing huge amounts of patient data.

There are pros and cons, though.

On one hand, the cloud presents security concerns as digital information breaches and cyber attacks remain a constant threat. However, the cloud is still a more secure option compared to on-site storage solutions. Health informatics and IT security experts are constantly developing and deploying new solutions to stay ahead of hackers and protect patient information.

Mobile Technology (mHealth)

Mobile technology for patient care, also known as “mHealth,” is effectively streamlining patient care and providing a much more convenient experience. A wide array of mobile apps allow patients to better access health information, contact health care providers, schedule visits, and monitor their health. Plus, physicians can better monitor how well a patient is complying with a treatment plan with tools that remotely monitor medical devices and health conditions.

Wearable Devices

The Fitbit and smart watches are two of the most well-known wearable devices designed to improve health outcomes and enhance prevention for patients. However, other devices that monitor calorie burning, heart rate, sleep patterns, steps taken per day, and characteristics of certain diseases are flooding the market, too.

Health informatics continues to be a mainstay when it comes to improving patient care in the 21st century. Researchers and health care providers increasingly rely on technology to improve diagnostics and treatment along with prevention efforts. This reliance is not expected to fade any time soon.