Electronic Health Records as a GPS for Healthcare
As patients are bombarded with more choice and information than ever, the burdened health system seems to lack the appropriate support to manage increasing demands for personalized and convenient care.
Today’s infographic comes to us from Publicis Health, and it demonstrates how electronic health records are an important piece in the puzzle to improve experiences for patients and providers alike.
At a Crossroads
As it stands, the current healthcare industry faces several challenges. Patients today have more complex needs and wants, while physicians are struggling to keep up.
- 25% of Americans have multiple chronic conditions.
- 63% of patients forget to adhere to medications.
- 40% of doctors feel that their work pace is chaotic.
- 60% of doctors feel that visits are too short to treat patients effectively.
Adding to these challenges, the healthcare industry is grappling with significant amounts of technological change, while also trying to keep costs in check. Between 2015 and 2017, hospitals lost $6.8 billion in operating income – that’s an average decline of nearly 40% in just two years.
A New Direction for Patient Care
Enter electronic health records (EHRs) – platforms used to conveniently store a patient’s health information and offer all sorts of services, from scheduling appointments and consultations to identifying patients at risk and guiding care decisions.
An improvement on physical paper charts, EHRs allow a patient’s medical history to be shared securely and instantly across different settings.
First conceived in 2009 under the Obama administration’s Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) act, EHRs have rapidly evolved as they’ve been implemented in the industry, with 87% office-based doctors nationwide relying on the system.
Today, EHRs are a massive industry: the global market was worth $23.6 billion in 2016, and it’s expected to reach close to $33.3 billion by 2023. It’s clear their real capabilities are still just at the tip of the iceberg.
As technology progresses to incorporate artificial intelligence and big data into healthcare, the point of care for patients will likely extend beyond the four walls of a doctor’s office and out into the world. In other words, EHR systems act like a GPS, helping doctors and care teams navigate patient care more efficiently. This improves patient-doctor interactions, resulting in better outcomes.
Of course, there are always challenges to overcome. Here are a few key considerations for EHRs:
|What’s the Problem?||The Solve||Benefits|
|Apps aren’t for all ages||Conversational AI platforms||- All age groups are familiar with chat platforms
- Streamline user interactions
- Increases engagement
|Expensive professional health system resources||AI-powered virtual assistance||- Concierge services for patients
- Access accurate patient information
- Increases engagement and adherence
|Generic, one-way content||Personalized content||- Educational and relevant content, based on individual needs|
|Missed appointments or medication||Reminder services||- Supports optimal care
- Improves adherence
|Accessibility issues||Telemedicine or transportation services||- Enables patients with transportation challenges to receive the care they need|
Thinking Beyond EHR Systems
Capturing real world data and patient-reported outcomes will be important for wider applications, towards:
- A deeper understanding of patient journeys
- Informing clinical trial design and execution
- Better characterizing patient demographics
- Evaluating treatment options for sub-populations
In the future, healthcare and pharma companies could potentially use EHRs as one part of an entire suite of solutions to improve their workflow – and extend the point of care everywhere.
This is part six of a seven part series. Stay tuned for the final piece by subscribing to Visual Capitalist for free, as we wrap up the major transformative forces shaping the future of healthcare.
The Global Inequality Gap, and How It’s Changed Over 200 Years
This visualization shows the global inequality gap — a difference in the standards of living around the world, as well as how it’s changed over 200 years.
How the Global Inequality Gap Has Changed In 200 Years
What makes a person healthy, wealthy, and wise? The UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) measures this by one’s life expectancy, average income, and years of education.
However, the value of each metric varies greatly depending on where you live. Today’s data visualization from Max Roser at Our World in Data summarizes five basic dimensions of development across countries—and how our average standards of living have evolved since 1800.
Health: Mortality Rates and Life Expectancy
Child mortality rates and life expectancy at birth are telltale signs of a country’s overall standard of living, as they indicate a population’s ability to access healthcare services.
Iceland stood at the top of these ranks in 2017, with only a 0.21% mortality rate for children under five years old. On the other end of the spectrum, Somalia had the highest child mortality rate of 12.7%—over three times the current global average.
While there’s a stark contrast between the best and worst performing countries, it’s clear that even Somalia has made significant strides since 1800. At that time, the global average child mortality rate was a whopping 43%.
Lower child mortality is also tied to higher life expectancy. In 1800, the average life expectancy was that of today’s millennial—only 29 years old:
Today, the global average has shot up to 72.2 years, with areas like Japan exceeding this benchmark by more than a decade.
Education: Mean and Expected Years of Schooling
Education levels are measured in two distinct ways:
- Mean years: the average number of years a person aged 25+ receives in their lifetime
- Expected years: the total years a 2-year old child is likely to spend in school
In the 1800s, the mean and expected years of education were both less than a year—only 78 days to be precise. Low attendance rates occurred because children were expected to work during harvests, or contracted long-term illnesses that kept them at home.
Since then, education levels have drastically improved:
|Mean Years of Schooling||Expected Years of schooling|
|Global Average||8.4 years||12.7 years|
|Highest||Germany 🇩🇪: 14.1 years||Australia 🇦🇺: 22.9 years|
|Lowest||Burkina Faso 🇧🇫: 1.5 years||South Sudan 🇸🇸: 4.9 years|
Research shows that investing in education can greatly narrow the inequality gap. Just one additional year of school can:
- Raise a person’s income by up to 10%
- Raise average annual GDP growth by 0.37%
- Reduce the probability of motherhood by 7.3%
- Reduce the likelihood of child marriage by >5 percentage points
Education has a strong correlation with individual wealth, which cascades into national wealth. Not surprisingly, average income has ballooned significantly in two centuries as well.
Wealth: Average GDP Per Capita
Global inequality levels are the most stark when it comes to GDP per capita. While the U.S. stands at $54,225 per person in 2017, resource-rich Qatar brings in more than double this amount—an immense $116,936 per person.
The global average GDP per capita is $15,469, but inequality heavily skews the bottom end of these values. In the Central African Republic, GDP per capita is only $661 today—similar to the average income two hundred years ago.
A Virtuous Cycle
These measures of development clearly feed into one another. Rising life expectancies are an indication of a society’s growing access to healthcare options. Compounded with more years of education, especially for women, this has had a ripple effect on declining fertility rates, contributing to higher per capita incomes.
People largely agree on what goes into human well-being: life, health, sustenance, prosperity, peace, freedom, safety, knowledge, leisure, happiness… If they have improved over time, that, I submit, is progress.
As technology accelerates the pace of change across these indicators, will the global inequality gap narrow more, or expand even wider?
The Future of Nanotechnology in Medicine
This infographic highlights some of the most promising nanotechnology breakthroughs in medicine, from ‘smart pills’ to targeted cancer treatment.
The Future of Nanotechnology in Medicine
Around the world, researchers are increasingly thinking smaller to solve some of the biggest problems in medicine.
Though most biological processes happen at the nano level, it wasn’t until recently that new technological advancements helped in opening up the possibility of nanomedicine to healthcare researchers and professionals.
Today’s infographic, which comes to us from Best Health Degrees, highlights some of the most promising research in nanomedicine.
What is Nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular level. The field combines elements of physics and molecular chemistry with engineering to take advantage of unique properties that occur at nanoscale.
One practical example of this technology is the use of tiny carbon nanotubes to transport drugs to specific cells. Not only do these nanotubes have low toxicity and a stable structure, they’re an ideal container for transporting drugs directly to the desired cells.
Small Systems, Big Applications
While many people will be most familiar with nanotech as the technology powering Iron Man’s suit, real world breakthroughs at the nanoscale will soon be saving lives in healthcare.
Here are a few ways nanotechnology is shaping the future of medical treatment:
1. Smart Pills
While smart pill technology is not a new idea — a “pill cam” was cleared by the FDA in 2001 — researchers are coming up with innovative new applications for the concept.
For example, MIT researchers designed an ingestible sensor pill that can be wirelessly controlled. The pill would be a “closed-loop monitoring and treatment” solution, adjusting the dosage of a particular drug based on data gathered within the body (e.g. gastrointestinal system).
An example of this technology in action is the recent FDA-approved smart pill that records when medication was taken. The product, which is approved for people living with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, allows patients to track their own medication history through a smartphone, or to authorize physicians and caregivers to access that information online.
2. Beating the Big C
Nearly 40% of humans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime, so any breakthrough in cancer treatment will have a widespread impact on society.
On the key issues with conventional chemotherapy and radiation treatments is that the body’s healthy cells can become collateral damage during the process. For this reason, researchers around the world are working on using nano particles to specifically target cancer cells.
Oncology-related drugs have the highest forecasted worldwide prescription drug sales, and targeting will be a key element in the effectiveness of these powerful new drugs.
Medical implants — such as knee and hip replacements — have improved the lives of millions, but a common problem with these implants is the risk of post-surgery inflammation and infection. In many cases, symptoms from an infection are detected so late that treatment is less effective, or the implant will need to be replaced all together.
Nanoscale sensors embedded directly into the implant or surrounding area could detect infection much sooner. As targeted drug delivery becomes more feasible, it could be possible to administer treatment to an infected area at the first sign of infection.
Examples like this show the true promise of nanotechnology in the field of medicine. Before long, gathering data from within the body and administering treatments in real-time could move from science fiction to the real world.
10,000 years ago, man domesticated plants and animals, now it’s time to domesticate molecules.
– Professor Susan Lindquist
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