This article was written on 22 Mar 2012, and is filled under Volume 16 Number 1.

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A year? It’s the future already!

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Future Thoughts Now Column

by Dr. Scott Erdley, Senior Editor

This column was made possible by an educational grant from
Chamberlain College of Nursing


Erdley, S. (February, 2012). A year?  It’s the future already!  Future Thoughts Now Column. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 16 (1). Available at http://ojni.org/issues/?p=1240

Column Points

  • Technology and care (once again)

Future Thoughts NowThis column is already one year into the future – wow! The passage of time makes one  reminisce about the past and introspective about any changes. Let’s look further and find an answer to the question of “what has changed (if anything)? A year ago conversation centered around a move to ARM chips and flexible screens, as well as a possible shift from tablets to flexible screens. So, what’s the talk here in the future? Let’s take a look and see . . .

First the move, here in the US, towards EHR systems by health institutions and private practices continues to gather momentum thanks primarily to federal funding support. The concept ‘meaningful use’ has gained new definition and importance (https://www.cms.gov/EHRIncentivePrograms/30_Meaningful_Use.asp). The definition has been sharpened so that it is now considered a measurable variable for payment. On one hand electronic records are now becoming a reality for patients and providers. What is the “other hand”? Health care is now directly impacted by the presence, or absence, of this tool.

Consequently, one may question what sort of impact is being made in healthcare? Some say inefficiencies of care will be remedied (e.g.: illegible writing, duplication of orders, medication interactions, and so on). Others indicate that EHRs will only lead to greater interactions of a negative nature (e.g.: what about power failure, disasters, inability of different systems to ‘talk’ to each other, monopolies versus natural selection, and so on). Who will prove out? Such is the future.

Another year later and tablets are still major topic of focus. Apple has surely stamped healthcare for at least a few years with their iPad, not only tech-wise but also dominance-wise. It is here to stay and now defines the tablet market. In fact, those who have tried there remains one – Google and its Android OS. Current rumor is that iPad 3 later this fall – more technology and a slightly different shape. Different sources indicate that the  adoption of the iPad by health care providers is on the rise. IT shops and departments are now becoming more comfortable with utilizing this as another ‘tool’ in the shed.

So, what’s now and what’s next? More advances for communication, such as:  social media (aka ‘Web 2.0’ applications) will increasingly become ubiquitous and transparent for users. Peter Murray’s 11/11 OJNI column (http://ojni.org/issues/?p=847) alludes to its’ importance as a mode of communication in global health. Social media will also grow in popularity and use. From a technical perspective, the increased use of tablets in health care is estimated to expand due to its form factor (similar to a sheet of paper as well as its size). Tablet power will also increase as technology increases in power and decreases in size.  We are already are using ‘Dick Tracy’ technology (see & hear with wearable technology) with our smartphones. The future will see this shrink in size and increase in power. Smartphones are truly ubiquitous computing at its finest.

So, how do you see the future? Will you be part of it? How will technology shape and influence patient care?  I see the glass ½ full myself. What do you see? As always, feel free to post your thoughts to these questions, as well as your own questions about technology and ‘the future’ here at OJNI and or email me (erdley@buffalo.edu). I look forward to reading your ideas and perspectives.

Feel free to post your thoughts to these questions as well as your own questions about technology and ‘the future’ here at OJNI and or email me (erdley@buffalo.edu).

Proofed by Dr Toni Eason

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