Toward smarter health and well-being: an implicit role for networking and information technology
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- Gianchandani, E. J Inf Technol (2011) 26: 120. doi:10.1057/jit.2011.5
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The number of people afflicted with chronic illnesses such as obesity, cancer, and diabetes has soared in recent years, generating new kinds of disparate medical challenges. In turn, these challenges have resulted in skyrocketing costs, preventable deaths, and medical malpractice claims. For example, studies have found nearly half of all US patients receive inadequate care each year, over 2 million are harmed by hospital-acquired infections, and over 1 million suffer disabling complications during surgery – even though half of these are thought to be avoidable. These challenges have catalyzed the beginning of a transformation in care delivery, from a health-care system that focuses on disease to one that must look after patients – including individuals and communities. To provide proper treatment to those who are chronically ill, the health-care system has to support improved individuals’ health-related practices prior to the manifestation of disease; ensure that a range of practitioners can deliver quality clinical care during the onset of an illness; and facilitate patient-provider-family partnerships during post-disease wellness care. As we describe in this review, key advances in networking and information technologies – spanning patient monitoring, data visualization and decision making, robotics and computer vision for diagnosis and surgery, social networking for fostering community-based support systems, and so on – stand to drive forward these changes. Together with social scientists, systems engineers, medical practitioners, and computer scientists, information systems scholars can help alter the nature of care delivery well into the twenty-first century, ultimately contributing to a system that is much more safe, effective, reliable, and timely than it is today.