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— Blog

How technology is impacting healthcare

September 9, 2014

Our Digital Realty colleagues in APAC recently blogged about how technology can help tackle the rising cost of healthcare in Asia Pacific.

The ability to offer cost-effective and high-value healthcare is a challenge felt by organizations across the globe. Certain technological developments that have emerged in recent years may provide the answer. Not surprisingly, these technologies could potentially affect a healthcare organization’s data center strategy.

North Americans see increasing healthcare costs

According to Mercola research, individuals living in North America pay twice as much for their healthcare than any other country. When the figures are added up, U.S. residents spend more on healthcare than those in Japan, Germany, France, the U.K. and China combined.

As the price for medical care rises in North America, so too has the healthcare industry’s spending on technological advances. According to a Markets and Markets report, the North American healthcare information technology market is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.4 percent, reaching $31.3 billion by 2017. One of the main driving factors behind this growth is the increasing pressure to reduce medical costs, the report noted.

How technology is impacting healthcare

One technological movement that is having an impact on the healthcare sector is the influx of wearable devices. IDC research shows that by 2018, consumers and corporate users will purchase close to 112 million wearable units, noted The Motley Fool contributor Carolyn Heneghan. As wearables become more popular, they are offering new opportunities for healthcare organizations.

Wearables, armed with sensors and connected applications, can provide a myriad of patient data for healthcare practitioners, especially when utilized to monitor an individual’s vital signs. This information can then be remotely fed directly to the patient’s healthcare provider. With this data on hand, doctors can offer the care people need without requiring them to make a physical trip to their office.

The considerable amount of data generated by these wearables will need to be collected, processed, and/or stored. In some cases, the need for lower latency may drive the need for a greater number of localized data centers.

Videoconferencing technology is also making waves in hospitals, doctor’s offices and other healthcare institutions. GlobalMed pointed out that such a system can help practitioners connect with patients in new ways.

“[Videoconferencing’s] uses are many, and range from monitoring and following up with discharged patients, to facilitating communication to track a patient’s recovery, to initial consultation with patients in locations where in-person appointments with a desired specialist may not be an option,” GlobalMed stated.

With a videoconferencing system in place, healthcare providers can offer care for their patients no matter where they are located. Even if patients are nearby, a face-to-face connection through teleconferencing can provide a higher level of comfort as individuals can get advice from their doctors from their own homes.

Innovations such as wearables and telemedicine offer significant opportunities to improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare IT spending. Selecting the right datacenter provider can help you to optimize your operational expenses and focus your capital expenses on tackling the challenges that devastating diseases present to the world. The right provider will also give you a carrier-rich environment and open peering arrangements to allow your medical staff to create an environment best suited for patient care. And when your data center providers are building not just for today, but with a focus on the future, including the Internet of Things, you can place your most valuable assets – your patients – in their trusted environment.

Matt Miszewski, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing @mattmiszewski