Ernst & Young (2001) describe the global health sciences marketplace as “a web created by pharmaceutical companies, biotech firms, eHealth companies, hospitals, physicians and other practitioners and medical device manufacturers” to name a few (p. 1). This web or library of information is the wave of the future.
Health sciences information libraries of the future will not just serve as global resources of health care information, but will rather serve as collaborative and interactive repositories where patients will be able to discover individualized treatment options and health care providers can collaborate on new biotechnological advances and discoveries. The global health sciences marketplace and libraries are inexorably changing as technology is better enabling corporations, individuals and providers to provide services in new and faster ways.
Trends developing within the industry that will affect health sciences libraries include providing health products and services that are delivered “Through integrated alliances” and digital technologies (Ernst & Young, 2). Trends In Technology and Biotechnology Affecting Libraries Technological forces “best represented by information technology and biotechnology” will continue to “radically change” the manner in which health care services are delivered (Ernst & Young, 2).
Health sciences libraries of the future will serve less as information storehouses and more as interactive chambers where physicians can access individualized treatment protocols and independent research, collaborating with health professionals across the globe. More and more global organizations and providers will use biotechnology forces, deliver services through “B2B commerce on the Web” and participate in telemedicine as means to delivering efficient care and information in health sciences markets of the future (Ernst & Young, 13; Anton, Schneider & Silberglitt, 2001).
Trends of the future will also create opportunities for consumers to have more direct access to healthcare resources through digital references and alliances made available in health sciences libraries (Ernst & Young, 2001; Anton, Schneider & Silberglitt, 2001). Within the health sciences field investments continue to develop and create new opportunities each and every day (Ernst & Young, 2001).
Biotechnology and information technology advancements will provide necessary services that will reinvent health care including “the way it is accessed, delivered and reimbursed” and that information will be readily available through health sciences libraries(Ernst & Young, 13). Not one aspect of health care will not be affective. Preventive medicine and even “invasive surgical techniques” are expected to change thanks to biotechnological advances.
Biotechnology has allowed tremendous strides in research including mapping the human genome, quickening the pace of biotechnology research and “providing for discovery of newer drugs faster than drug companies can market them” (Ernst & Young 13). In the world of the future virtual drug testing might arise that will reduce the expense, risk and time it takes for traditional researchers to assess how drugs will affect patients (Ernst & Young, 13; Brower 2000; Anton, Schneider & Silberglitt, 2001).
Technology will also enable companies to identify new markets and find new ways to store and manipulate “massive health science data sets” referred to as improved data mining capability thus enhancing the health sciences libraries ability to provide consumers and companies with vital information and data relevant to individual needs(Ernst & Young 13). This in turn will allow researchers to create new models for disease including diabetes, obesity and asthma, and may help researchers examine how well medicines work and how they affect consumers (Brook, Damberg & Ker, 1998.
There are some obstacles the health community will face however. Most consumers have a much small understanding of biotechnological advances than they do IT ones, and health sciences information specialists of the future will have a tremendous challenge encouraging the public to accept biotechnology as a means to provide better and unique health care services (Morris, Kelly, Mundy & Samiran, 2001. While there is the potential for positive success many consumers are still hesitant of biotechnology and its applications (Ernst & Young, 2001, Weiss, 2000).
Biotechnological advances in the future will also work toward improving the overall human health rate by mimicking neurological pathways and teaching researchers “how to activate and manipulate the body’s own systems for healing itself” (Ernst & Young, 15). New avenues for disease diagnosis, prevention and treatment will also be explored as biotechnology systems help further define vaccine capability, produce antibodies geared at specific targets and help researchers develop gene therapies that may replace or change “improperly structured genes” (Ernst & Young 16).
The field of pharmacogenomics or science of creating medicines that are personalized to ones genes will also be more accessible thanks to technological advances of the future (Weiss, 2000). The biggest changes will occur in the field of telemedicine, which will allow high tech and quality health care throughout the world, including in hard to reach third world countries (Aday, Begley, Lairson & Slater, 1993). Among the improvements planned for the future include improved cardiac imaging systems which healthcare providers can access via secure connections on the Web almost anywhere in the world (Truelove, 2000).
Trend Digital Reference Services Academic Health Science Libraries The subject of information technology and biotechnological trends has much relevance to the provision of health services and health information. Trends currently occurring within the health sciences field have the potential to impact global health delivery and information sharing in a positive way, enabling better collaboration between health care providers and greater information access for consumers and patients.
Libraries will now contain vital life saving information easily accessed by both consumers and medical professional alike (Anton, Schneider & Silberglitt, 2001). Information can now be uncovered and stored in new ways. Consumers using libraries will no longer rely on health science libraries as repositories for information only, but will also use them to help develop individualized medical treatments and drug therapies. Health professionals can use libraries to exchange information with global providers and enable faster treatment surveys and delivery or services.
Anton, Schneider & Silberglitt (2001) predict that multiple technology related trends “appear posed to have major global effects by 2015” (p. 1). These trends are increasingly influenced by biotechnological advances, nanotechnology and information technology combined (Larson, 1999; Anton, Schneider & Silberglitt, 2001). Carey et. al (1999) predicted a number or biotechnological changes that will change the way health services are provided and allow better drug development, advances in biomedical engineering and new therapeutic techniques for treating patients with advanced disease.
Trends include gaining better control over the “fundamental building blocks of physical things” To change the way vaccines are made, computers are built and patients are treated among others (Anton, Schneider & Silberglitt, 2001). Trends of the future will also include better DNA analysis and genetic analysis capabilities which in turn will improve researchers ability to analyze drug effectiveness, “profile patients” and enable better diagnosis of human health problems and disease prevention (Anton, Schneider & Silberglitt, 5).
Viral and bacterial problems may be better addressed and modulation of “chemical stasis in the body” better achieved thanks to biotechnological and information technology analysis (Anton, Schneider & Silberglitt, 11). Conclusions Rapidly advancing technological and biotechnology changes are altering the way health sciences libraries deliver services to consumers, healthcare organizations and professionals.
Trends in biotechnology and information technology will better enable health sciences libraries to act as repositories for information but also as collaborative environments where healthcare providers can collaborate on patient care alternatives, develop individualized treatment regimens and even work directly with consumers from a health perspective. Information will be more easily accessed and fine tuned to cater to the needs of individuals rather than the masses, enhancing the medical communities ability to provide optimal care in any setting, regardless of patient location.
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