Here is a snapshot of some technologies making an impact in healthcare.
Electronic Medical Records
Medical records in digital format. This makes it easier for healthcare workers to access and share information about a patient. A nationwide EMR system that links all healthcare institutions--public and private--to a centralized database, however, poses challenges, including privacy issues. Governments will have to address the public's concerns and prevent any potential intrusion of personal data.
Radio frequency identification tags and wireless sensing devices can be used to monitor a patient's vital signs, track the location of people and equipment, and even monitor environmental conditions. RFID also enables clinicians to log on to healthcare systems in a secure manner, without using a keyboard, mouse or stylus.
Portals make it easy for hospitals to disseminate health information and provide better support to citizens through applications such as telemedicine. They also boost collaboration between the public and private healthcare sectors.
The provision of healthcare services over broadband or telephone lines. Telemedicine will evolve from being used for patient monitoring to more detailed diagnostics, and from being part of the hospital LAN (local area network), to sharing and collaboration between hospital groups.
PDAs (personal digital assistants), tablet PCs and other types of mobile devices like the Mobile Clinical Assistant used at Changi General Hospital, unchain clinicians from their workstations as information can be easily accessed on-the-go. Medical workers no longer have to lug around thick medical records.
Hospitals can send healthcare information alerts, including appointment reminders, to patients using mobile text message.
Smart cards can be used as an identity token and to secure health information.
An integrated digital camera in a mobile device enables visual clinical documentation at the point of care.
Integrated lab information systems
An integrated lab information system enables authorized care providers to access a patient's lab results electronically. For example, Singapore's National Healthcare Group has linked 13 medical laboratories onto a single system.