Living Like The Jetsons: What Will the Future Bring?

Last week I had the ‘pleasure’ of getting a root canal at a new Endodontist’s office in town.  I arrived 15 minutes early to fill out the customary and lengthy paperwork and was pleasantly surprised to be led back to a small room with a computer and a keyboard.  I was instructed by the receptionist that my account was set up in their system and they were a paperless office.   The computer then prompted me through several screens of my health history and within four minutes, my “paperwork” was completed.

Many of you may already be accustomed to this if you live in larger and more metropolitan areas as we see the effects of ARRA-HITech implemented, but since I live in a smaller community, it was surprising to me.  And yet, at the airport I type in a code and magically print a boarding pass to get on a plane.  I swipe a credit card

and push a button on a Redbox and a DVD is dispensed.  I wave my Blackberry over a barcode to get information on a product in my favorite magazine.  I stand on my Wii Fit balance board and a pleasant voice says, “Welcome back Juli, it’s been four days since you last checked in.”

The wave of the future is here and we are now living what many of us Baby Boomer’s saw on the Saturday Cartoon, The Jetsons.  As we head into the second decade of the new millennium, the products that we don’t know that we can’t live without haven’t been invented yet.  Who will be the next Steve Jobs to bring previously unheard-of but now indispensable items into our lives?

How will having the ability to carry a personal health record with us impact the future of healthcare?  I ask this question as my mother-in-law prepares and hopes to be able to head south for the winter from her soon-to-be cold and snowy Midwestern home.  She had a stroke several weeks ago and since she would have to start all over with different doctors in Florida, the opportunity to be able to transport her complete personal health record would give her the freedom and opportunity to travel.  Her physicians would not have to guess with her treatment, nor would she have to have all of her diagnostic tests re-done since the hospital and doctors in Florida would have the ability to access her health history.

Twelve years ago the internet was a fun, new thing.  Today, it is a vitally important business tool and without it, my business would not survive.  In the next ten years, I wonder what changes in electronic health records will mean to the accuracy and speed of our healthcare.

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