10 Cool, Amazing Gadgets and Trends to Help Your Practice

Paul Cerrato, MA

Disclosures

June 18, 2014

In This Article

Practices Are Changing

The way you practice medicine may be very different in a few years, thanks to technological developments that some doctors are already using.

Robert Wah, MD, the American Medical Association (AMA) President-Elect, sees delivery reform coming down the pike. "We've spent billions of dollars to wean doctors and hospitals off paper onto digital records... and billions of dollars to interconnect that digital information," said Wah. "What I see coming very quickly... is [that] we're going to want to analyze that information in very powerful ways...to help us make better decisions."

Wah also expects all this accumulated data to help clinicians make the shift from intervention to prevention.

For a closer look at several of the trends that will probably change the way you practice on a daily basis, read on.

1. Telemedicine Goes Mainstream

You may spend part of your day in the examination room and another part of your day in front of a computer, conducting a video visit. Many companies now offer video patient visits, and some insurers pay for such visits in rural areas. But patients love the convenience, and so the phenomenon is likely to spread. A recent Forbes report predicts that "The business of treating patients via telehealth in the U.S. will dramatically increase to nearly $2 billion in revenue within five years..."[1] That prediction is based on data from the analytics firm HIS, which expects this area of medical practice to grow from $240 million in 2013 to $1.9 billion by 2018.

That growth will occur as clinicians connect with patients through video conferencing and the use of remote monitoring devices. Ron Dixon, MD, Director of the Virtual Practice Project at Massachusetts General Hospital's Department of Medicine, says, "At MGH, we have had over 2000 documented telemedicine visits in the past 12 months -- a significant jump from the past year, in an urban environment."

2. Remote Monitoring Builds Up Momentum

This area of medical technology is exploding, with mobile applications, cell phone attachments, Websites, and wireless networks that will probably affect your daily routine in the near future -- if they haven't already. Some patients, for example, may be taking readings on their blood glucose monitors and sending those data via email to your office nurses and physician assistants for analysis.

Similarly, if you haven't already developed close ties with a nearby health system, you may decide to do so, sharing electronic health record (EHR) systems that let you tap into inpatients' telemetry readings to detect abnormalities. That can better prepare you to ward off emergencies as you see patients' readings trend in the wrong direction. Your office may eventually have a direct electronic link to patients' homes, letting you track data from wireless sensors placed under a patient's mattress, for example. Such sensors can now monitor sleep patterns, heart rate, and breathing rate.[2]

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