past thirty to forty years. Contrast this with the enormous changes in, say, transport, manufacturing and telecommunications!
But hang on to your stethoscopes! Despite the fact that some doctors still have their heads buried firmly in the sand, the winds of change are blowing and most doctors are now using electronic communication technologies, if not enthusiastically, then at least regularly. The combination of technological change, the demands of business and the rise of consumerism are causing radical changes in the way healthcare is practiced around the world. Health Informatics experts are poised to revolutionize health practices by implementing the enormous changes needed in the health system, that have already occurred in other industries. These professionals typically have backgrounds in either healthcare, such as nurses and doctors, or information technology, and then receive cross-training so as to be able to work across both areas in the newly emerging electronic health systems of today and tomorrow.
The changes in healthcare will be the 21st century’s equivalent of the public health initiatives of sanitation and nutrition which revolutionized health care in the twentieth century. Integration of online technologies will see doctors and patients working together on electronic health records with patients having much more say in their treatments. The development of widely available broadband networks and video mail will bring electronic health into everyone’s home. Patients and doctors will work collaboratively on the internet as parters with the agreed mutual objective of health improvement.
Look at how fast the average adolescent can send messages on their phone – gone are the days when a telephone was just an audio device. The way we interact with communication systems is radically changing the way we b