Many innovative leaps in health technology have been made in the centuries people have been practicing medicine, yet few have had as much widespread influence or impact as digital technology. Dramatic improvements in networking and computers have not only expanded options for medical treatments but have also transformed how clinicians perform their jobs.

Although forward thinkers started discussing the possibility of using computers in medicine as early as the 1960s (link resides outside, computers were initially too expensive and unreliable for medical practices to rely on. As technology improved and costs came down, policies and data standards (link resides outside were created to encourage healthcare organizations to adopt new technology not just for medical equipment, like diagnostic imaging machines, but also for everyday record keeping. Paper medical records were digitized and mostly replaced with electronic health records (EHRs) that help make it easier for health data like test results or diagnoses to be accessed efficiently and securely.

Using EHR systems or other technologies while engaging with patients and creating treatment plans is now standard practice. Laptops and tablets have become just as common in healthcare settings as stethoscopes, and there’s growing evidence that EHRs are having a positive effect on accessing and exchanging health information.

However, one large challenge EHRs have created is the accumulation of large amounts of unintegrated and unstandardized data. Currently, most healthcare organizations have a wealth of data they could use to improve their procedures and business practices, but they might not have the tools or expertise to uncover insights in that data. Newer technologies, like cloud, blockchain and AI tools based on machine learning, can help healthcare organizations uncover patterns in large amounts of data while also making that data more secure and easier to manage.

As the healthcare industry faces new challenges, technology solutions are helping leaders to improve performance, increase collaboration across systems and manage costs. As demands on organizations increase, healthcare technology can streamline processes, automate tasks and improve workflows at a scale that’s not possible for humans alone. As providers at hospitals and health systems embrace value-based health reimbursement models, these solutions are helping healthcare professionals to improve patient care, create better experiences and reduce burnout.


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