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Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals

Over the past few years, the healthcare industry has undergone a series of significant changes. Technology lies at the heart of many of these changes, whether medical technology or information technology. Electronic medial records have replaced hefty filing cabinets full of physical patient records. Health information is now accessible to almost everyone, either via a desktop or mobile device. As these changes continue, mobility will fuel the health information revolution, enabling more effective interactions between patients and providers.

Technology as an extension of ourselves

Wearable technology is exploding in popularity, so much so that Cisco Systems is predicting a 700% increase in the number of wearable devices by 2018. The arrival of health-focused wearable technology is changing the way patients view their physical activity and doctors track overall health. Where there was once a vague notion that more activity is good, people can now view exact metrics (such as steps taken, calories burned and heart rate) and understand the role these measurements plays in everyday life. Combine this data with platforms that can interpret the information, and you have a full ecosystem that caters to both the stat-obsessed and the casually curious. Of course, the devices available today are just the tip of the iceberg. Going forward, data sharing with health providers will likely become the norm for many individuals.

Wellness and health ownership

Over the past few decades, two overarching trends drove greater competition for customers in the healthcare industry. First, as competition and consolidation have intensified, so have marketing efforts to attract businesses and consumers in the field of digital advertising. eMarketer projects digital marketing budgets for the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries will grow by approximately 25% between 2013 and 2017 alone. Second, as the pool of marketing dollars grew, the messages being communicated evolved. Pharmaceutical companies that previously spent money to convince providers to use drugs are now trying to grow demand through consumer education instead. People are taking ownership of their wellbeing and are more engaged than ever.

Empowered patients become advocates

Once patients are inside a doctor’s office or hospital, all sorts of mobile apps make it easier for doctors to share information and schedule necessary tests or procedures. Often, these same kinds of applications will allow patients to schedule visits on their own, or pay for services. More important than these convenience features, though, is the information these applications can provide. This information is improving bedside manner by helping to reassure and educate patients. It’s even more important for chronically ill patients who use various devices to report vital signs and note symptoms. All of these benefits mean people need to schedule fewer visits with their healthcare providers, which saves everyone time.

Mobile empowers providers on the go

Both the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries have benefitted from an influx of new mobile technology. For pharmaceutical sales reps who spend a majority of their time in doctors’ offices and hospitals, tablet computers can easily connect them to their companies and colleagues. Plus, tablets allow reps to promote their products’ uses and benefits to customers in the field. For providers, tablets are becoming the norm. EPG Health Media reports that 62% of healthcare professionals are now using a tablet for work each day. The evolving importance of electronic medical records is driving providers to capture patient data electronically, and new mobile devices and applications that are convenient and simple to use are making it possible for providers to share this information with their patients to help explain symptoms, health status and treatment approaches.

Harnessing the power of big data

The healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, both inundated by data and information, are well-positioned to benefit from the power of big data. Using big data, tracking and analysis programs can proactively identify at-risk patients to prevent hospital readmissions, alerting clinicians and case managers and providing personalized patient transition plans. And automated systems are enabling the creation of offline case schedules that seamlessly integrate with existing scheduling platforms. As big data continues to impact the healthcare field, it’s promoting simpler, more efficient tracking for healthcare professionals, more informed medical decisions and better care for patients overall.

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