The potential of implementation of ICT systems in nearly all fields of people’s activities nowadays is yet to show its full capacity, but the powerful impact is more than obvious in science, education, banking, human interactions and much more. However, for a software engineer, implementation of ICT systems into healthcare system is one of the most important and challenging at the same time. For quite some time, ICT methods facilitated healthcare system only by providing a more efficient administrative aspect of healthcare.
The scope has expanded over time significantly and, as experienced and educated software engineer, I had the honor to monitor the implementation of ICT methods into several hospitals and polyclinics that broke through limitations of the administrative field into actual medical practice. The software infrastructure provides easier ways of communication between hospitals, storing information about patients, facilitates interaction between doctors and patients, prevents medical errors and empowers medical procedures. Here is my review of three major aspects where ICT had an impressive impact on the healthcare system.
Electronic Medical Record Exchange refers to a particular ICT platform designed for sharing medical documentation among public and private hospitals and health departments. Since I’ve spent too much time privately carrying around tons of papers and various personal medical reports from one doctor to another, I found this electronic infrastructure to be a blessing. However, the software engineer within me approach this platform professionally and found qualities to outnumber challenges and issues. Namely, EMRX connects two clusters of medical records, enabling equal access to many doctors in different hospitals to the medical records of the same treated patient.
The software is rather powerful and supports myriad of data formats, which provides sharing of lab results, X-ray results, medical reports, drug prescriptions and much more. The data flow is smooth, efficient and reliable and coordination among all medical staff involved in the treatment of a single patient is empowered. Although this facilitates treatment and various medical procedures a big time, there is a major flaw in the system. Since EMRX is essentially “opt – out” based application, it requires sophisticated measures of protection and safety to protect the mere document of malicious software, as well as to ensure the privacy of patient’s data and results. The last issue opens a big field for all software engineers and challenges them to improve this fundamentally excellent program.
Since an average human life spans all up to 80s nowadays, plenty chronic patients require regular controls, checkups, routine therapy or occasional modifications of the treatment. This chronic treatment involves several levels of the health care system, including a general practitioner, various specialists, lab technicians and others, with the mere patient at the end of the chain. There’s a high flow of medical documentation belonging to the same patient and regarding the evolution of the same disease. Chronic Disease Management Program is designed to create a close link between all levels of health care system involved in chronic treatment. Its task is also to keep all the data of a single patient systematically archived, to enable comparison and analysis of the disease evolution.
Finally, it provides solid control of the chronic illness, while at the same time prevents complications and reduces treatment costs. CMS system uses info communication technologies to collect the data, keep the track with the patient and enable two-way communication between doctors and patient.
Finally, there are several particular info – communication technologies that are applied directly to various medical procedures. The one I find the most useful and the most (so far) developed is so called PACS communication system. This application provides storage, distribution, and presentation of various radiology pictures, including MRI, CT, PET, and mammograms, converting them into consistent data format available on various digital devices later.