While healthcare IT remains focused on AI and other hot topics, here are five innovations quietly transforming the foundation of the industry.

The American healthcare industry has spent years struggling to meet patients’ expectations for quality care at a lower cost. In a complicated system packed with regulations, change can be slow. With healthcare politics in flux (to say the least), a lot of change is occurring at the margins, yet it is still exciting news for the industry.

healthcare technology (IT)

From physician burnout to patient engagement, we believe many of these innovations will transform the ways providers are equipped to handle healthcare’s most pressing issues.

  1. Cloud-based EHR integration may provide a new pathway to shared data. Before the advent of cloud-stored information, millions of health records were inaccessible to providers and payers who could have benefitted from shared access. Improved access to patient data is the foundation of nearly every future healthcare technology innovation. The cloud is dynamic, flexible and capable of being applied to countless purposes.

    More and more providers are building up their infrastructure to accommodate the bounty of information that cloud-held EHRs will provide. Hopefully this will also move us forward with destroying unnecessary siloes of patient information.

  2. Augmented reality healthcare education offers insights that would otherwise not be possible for medical students. Programs that project virtual parts of the human body—or the entire body—are not just great educational tools, but also valuable time savers. Case Western Reserve University medical students report that a 15 minute session of augmented reality learning is as beneficial as a 12-hour session in a cadaver lab.

    These tools can be equipped with tele-teaching capabilities, allowing for remote lectures and personalized instruction. Medical students will surely appreciate saving time any way they can in their packed schedules, but other opportunities arise from this as well. With this revolutionary form of teaching, universities and residency programs might be able to invest more time helping students prepare for interactions with patients and other “softer” skills that can improve the quality of provider care longterm.

  1. Evidence-based care has emerged as a response to some of the most pressing challenges facing the healthcare industry. Providers are being drowned in regulatory paperwork and lack the availability to spend quality time with patients. Superfluous prescriptions are becoming commonplace. Empowered by the shift to healthcare consumerism, some patients may be asking for unnecessary or ineffective tests.

    Evidence-based decision support tools can help remediate these problems by providing data tailored to a specific patient in a short amount of time. Interfaces highlight treatments proven to be most effective and enable doctors to involve patients in their own healthcare decisions, creating better engagement. This technology results in better outcomes, higher patient satisfaction scores, and a streamlined workflow for providers—from physicians to ER doctors.

  2. Chat rooms, contrary to popular belief, did not fade into oblivion in the late ‘00s. Even if AOL and others have fallen by the wayside, some providers are reintroducing the idea of a chat room to facilitate instant remote conversation between care teams and patients.

    Chat rooms exist both within payer and provider portals, and on their own via mobile native apps. As this technology becomes more prominent, patients are sure to have more consistent access to their providers.

  3. Remote scribe technology offers an innovative way to reduce the burden on providers to document their behavior. With studies showing that two-thirds of a doctor’s day spent doing paperwork, this technology could free up thousands of hours per year for providers.

    Rather than burning out, doctors will be able to spend their days doing meaningful work. Given the enormous opportunity cost of documentation, remote-scribe technology could work wonders for how providers are able to interact with their patients.

These technologies are breakthroughs as standalone projects, but they have great potential to be used collaboratively too. Every stage of providing care is represented in this list: education, forming a treatment plan based on patient data, administering that plan, documenting the care and patient outreach.

Although they may be on the fringes of healthcare technology today, these innovations are certain to save time, money and lives.