Five critical ways technology is changing healthcare
Of all the industries impacted by technology, healthcare has seen some of the most significant and promising changes, especially where device-based tech is concerned. Everything from electronic health records (EHRs) to improve collaboration between doctors, remote devices for patient monitoring, robots that improve surgeries, or even the use of AI and ML to manage disease control, technology is paving the way for improved healthcare in a truly meaningful way.
EHRs and telemedicine improve collaboration and reduce risk
Before the arrival of electronic health records, doctors had few options for communicating information about a single patient to one another, much less collaborating in their care. Complex cases may require treatment across multiple doctors or teams, and constant communication is paramount for optimal treatment strategies. EHRs are the key to bridging this gap.
Surgeons can familiarize themselves with a patient’s full medical history. Doctors have instant access to test results. Complex conditions become easier to diagnose and treat across departments.
But it doesn’t stop there, as the recent advances in telemedicine have dramatically improved patient care, too, especially during times of peak illness. Remote visits allow medically sensitive individuals to see their doctor from home and reduce the spread of disease for everyone.
When patients do have to visit in-person, touchscreen kiosks and digital documentation are streamlining the check in process. Smart sensors can automatically check patients’ skin temperature, verify immunization records, and record symptoms. Patients can also update information like address and insurance — all without interaction from a receptionist, nurse, or doctor.
Remote patient monitoring for chronic illness and rehabilitation
Patients with complicated illnesses require complex treatment plans and frequent (or even constant) monitoring. For example, diabetics need real-time info on their blood sugar. Modern glucose monitors are worn 24/7 and track blood sugar levels in real-time, alarming if levels are too low or too high, and even store historical data for healthcare professionals to monitor. Sleep apnea patients can wear oxygen monitors to track SpO2 levels when they sleep. Patients on at-home peritoneal dialysis often have to track their weight, blood pressure, and nightly treatments. In all of these cases, data is transmitted back to the prescribing doctor on a regular cadence (or even in real-time).
But even patients without a serious illness (or any disease at all, for that matter) can benefit from health stat tracking. Modern smartwatches and fitness trackers make it easier than ever to track heart rate, breathing, SpO2, and other health metrics — many even offer on-the-spot ECGs (electrocardiograms)! This proactive approach to healthcare can save lives by detecting early symptoms of heart attack, arrhythmia, sleep apnea, and more.
Rehabilitation patients also benefit from wearable technology and health tracking, allowing physical therapists to ensure the patients are “doing their homework.” These outpatient wearables often include specific sensors to track on-body metrics, including force-based measurements using gyroscopes, accelerometers, and strain gauges..
Robots and advanced imaging improve diagnostic accuracy and recovery times
With modern medical imaging, doctors are able to see inside the body in ways they never thought possible, and 3D printing is helping surgeons prepare and execute complex surgeries with more efficiency than ever before.
Surgeons also rely on robots more often, which improves surgical outcomes by shorterning operations and mitigating the capacity for human error. With 3D printing and robot assisted surgery combined, surgeons are finding groundbreaking new ways to improve many procedures, decreasing recovery times, enhancing results, and minimizing invasiveness.
AI and ML for patient safety, sanitation, and disease control
One of the biggest challenges of any hospital or doctor’s office is preventing the spread of disease throughout the facility. With new systems, temperature sensors and symptom checkers can be placed strategically for contact tracing highly contagious diseases.
Hospital units or other facilities responsible for chronically ill, immunocompromised, or other medically fragile individuals can take things a step further by leveraging smart cameras, sensors, and the use of AI (artificial intelligence). With this combination, it’s possible for hospitals to track employee habits with tools like facial recognition and event detection. Smart cameras can track specific actions like hand washing or sanitizing, mask wearing, and other preventative measures to make sure employees are in compliance with established sanitation and disease control policies.
Decentralized clinical research benefits from a wider, more diverse test pool
With cloud computing and tools, decentralized clinical research means trials can be conducted from nearly anywhere — researchers can use the cloud to transmit data from subjects and monitor that data in real time. This allows researchers access to a much wider pool of test subjects than localized trials, thus providing a broader range of results.
The data collected during these trials can be aggregated and collated into reports — or even analysis — using AI and ML. This makes the research more efficient, allows for timelier results, and improves data quality.
Devices are the future of healthcare, but who monitors the monitors?
It’s clear that we’re becoming more reliant on device-based technology in healthcare. Critical care devices are in the hospital, the waiting room, and even on the patient’s body, and that requires oversight — when a healthtech device goes down, it’s not just a matter of inconvenience, it’s potentially someone’s wellbeing that’s affected. A faulty glucose monitor could provide inaccurate readings, causing a patient to take too much or too little insulin. A dialysis machine could have its settings wiped clean during a power outage, meaning the patient can’t perform their nightly treatment — or worse, they do it with the wrong prescription. And that’s just two scenarios that are potentially catastrophic.
When patients rely on your healthtech devices for care, you need those devices to be managed, reachable, and reliable.. That’s where Esper comes in: We offer the tools needed to manage the healthtech devices of today, tomorrow, and beyond. Esper features in-depth device telemetry to quickly troubleshoot issues, remote access for easy and instant adjustments, app and OS updates that work on your schedule, and a whole lot more. If you’re looking for a better way to manage your health devices, get in touch.
Image source: Khakimullin Aleksandr/Shutterstock.com