How Emerging Technology is Transforming the Healthcare Industry?
Technology has advanced by leaps and bounds and brought about changes in every industry. The Healthcare industry is no exception. Thanks to the advanced technology in healthcare, today, patients have access to some of the best and cutting-edge treatments. Also, patients can have access to innumerable minimally-invasive procedures that are less painful and result in better recovery.
With the world reeling under the COVID-19 pandemic, most countries are following lockdowns and social distancing to curb the spread. However, with the help of technology, remote consultations with experts, and the availability of intuitive mobile apps have helped patients (non-COVID) to receive improved patient care and quality healthcare experiences.
The following are seven of the top impacts of technology in healthcare that are revolutionizing the field.
1. Improved Communication
Emerging technology in healthcare has facilitated improved communication within healthcare organizations. More and more medical professionals are leveraging technology such as video, AR/VR, real-time meeting capacities, and other online platforms to communicate and help spread knowledge in the field. Also, teleconferencing has made communication beyond geographic borders a breeze.
2. Electronic Medical Records
Gone are the days of bulky files and worn-out papers, Electronic Health Records (EHRs) or electronic medical records help save summaries of a patient’s medical records digitally. The digital summary can include lab reports, diagnoses, surgical interventions, prescriptions, and even details of hospital stays. Electronic medical records offer better insights into a patient’s health leading to accurate diagnosis and better patient care.
Digital records facilitate the sharing of information between specialists and labs thereby improving coordination. If properly maintained and implemented, digital records can also help increase accountability and reduce medical negligence.
Simply put, EHRs consume less time to create and are easier to maintain. They help medical professionals reduce the chances of making mistakes and make their life easier.
3. Big Data
For the uninitiated, big data refers to a large amount of data that is fast or complex and difficult to process using traditional methods.
Health technology allows medical accountants to gather big data in a short time. Data collection helps healthcare professionals to understand and learn cutting-edge techniques and trends. This data can be used for analytics and make predictions about possible epidemics and identify risk factors. Also, access to big data allows clinicians to recommend appropriate preventive steps more effectively and reduce deaths.
In addition to the collection of data, cloud storage of data ensures improved efficiency and accessibility with less wastage. This helps in research and development of new medical treatments and lifesaving formulations. Cloud storage is a secure and cost-effective solution with back-up and recovery features that are managed and maintained without additional server hardware. It is an invaluable advantage for medical research and analysis that helps in efficient health information exchange.
Read our case study: How a data analytics solution developed by Fingent enabled NHS to gain financial, clinical, and geographical insights and improved their visibility over KPIs.
4. Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
Today, approximately 95% of Americans have a mobile phone and most of them use it to access information of some kind from the internet. Health technology also has reformed its processes to connect with people efficiently.
ICT has linked not just medical professionals but also with the patients. From emails, telemedicine to smartphones and telemonitoring systems, all are used to share information. This is particularly useful for rural areas facing a dearth of facilities and/or specialists.
From diagnostic to management, ICT is improving constantly and streamlining how the healthcare industry functions and how patients are communicating with the care providers.
The new technology in healthcare allows care providers to compare health data of patients, identify risk factors, and recommend preventive measures. This has also given a boost to medical tourism helping many patients to seek consultations and second opinions from specialists practically from any part of the world. Patients can even virtually travel to another country to avail of specialized treatment or advanced surgery following remote communication such as video conferencing.
5. Improved Patient Care
Technology in healthcare has provided the healthcare community with advanced tools to improve patient care. Using EHRs, physicians can easily access the complete medical histories of a patient and make an informed decision. Physicians can even use apps to identify possible medication errors and help a patient’s safety.
Virtual Reality (VR) devices and apps help ease symptoms of anxiety and depression in older people and those suffering from mental illness. Augmented Reality (AR) also helps surgeons to perform complex surgeries. Both virtual reality as well as augmented reality devices can help improve health and fitness among patients. Some examples like robotic knee replacement and gene therapy in cancer treatment prove that technology in healthcare will only grow exponentially in near future.
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology has improved patient care by providing information about a patient’s crucial signs and temperature. RFID facilitates real-time tracking of location, identification, and communication.
In addition to VR, AR, and RFID, 3D printing is used to create prosthetics, hearing aids, and even customized dental devices.
6. Health Apps
Advanced technology in healthcare has resulted in the development of several health apps. This enables patients to have access to quick and accurate medical information using their smartphones. Patients can use these apps to keep track of medical appointments, receive reminders, and even access to test results easily. Health apps help people get healthier by offering customized solutions and track their food intake and activity levels.
Physicians can use these apps to access drug information to prevent side effects, solve any issues, and improve diagnosis. Physicians can communicate with their patients directly, record their vital signs, maintain logs about consultation and visits, and achieve better procedural efficiency.
Telemedicine allows patients to consult with a specialist anywhere in the world. This new technology in healthcare facilitates critical care in emergencies, potentially saving lives. Telemedicine helps patients to use telemedical devices to receive home care and support via apps and video calls. Telemedicine makes it possible to transmit biosignal, medical images, and other crucial information to a specialist through asynchronous consultation. It means, neither the doctor nor the patient has to be present or online at the same time. This can significantly reduce the waiting time for patients and help improve delivery processes.
Healthcare professionals can monitor patients remotely via telemedicine. This can help manage chronic conditions effectively. Real-time interactions such as video conferencing can help with diagnosis, management, counseling, and patient monitoring.
To sum up, it can be said that technology has revolutionized healthcare and is expected to continue in the years to come. While developed nations have been able to harness health technology more efficiently, developing nations are not lagging. Today, more and more health providers are realizing the untapped potential of technology and leveraging it to streamline processes. There’s no denying that healthcare and technology go hand in hand and professionals will have to make the required changes and investments to improve the quality of healthcare.
We’re working with healthcare providers, medical analysts, life sciences experts, medical equipment suppliers, device manufacturers, and a host of players in the healthcare ecosystem to enhance their experience w.r.t. managing patient relations, delivering superior care, streamline treatment procedures and benefit from the rapidly growing medical data.
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What aspect of our lives has technology not influenced right? We literally have almost everything in our lives automated and at our convenience, from home delivered groceries to mobile banking facilities. Our health too, is not left behind. With Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and other healthcare applications, there has been quite a few milestones in the healthcare industry as well.
For instance, we have wearables that allow users to monitor their heart rate or keep track of all kinds of health metrics while they are working out. We even have smartphone adaptable glucose meters for diabetics and many such other devices developed for our well being.
So, we’ve seen the beginning of technological advancements in healthcare, now where is it headed? Can we imagine a world where patients can probably be warned about a looming heart attack or an insulin shock for diabetics? With the help of all the health data collected from these wearable devices over a period of time, it could actually be possible, although we’re not quite there yet.
The road definitely seems to be leading us to that. A significant change needs to take place in the way healthcare operates currently for that world to become a reality and the good news is, it has already started!
Here are the top 5 technology trends in healthcare that are likely to create the next big revolution in the industry:
- Big data – Just like any other industry, the influence of Big data is pretty significant in healthcare as well. As healthcare is becoming more automated or digitized, the data that is collected in the process, through various points, is obviously huge, and the need to act on such data seems to be the new focus. Hence, organizations are looking for ways to store, access, as well as, garner useful insights from the data. It is a good start towards the goal of being proactive in our treatments and predicting outbreaks. It also helps in understanding diseases better and personalizing medicines and treatments, in order to improve the overall quality of care. It could even help in preventing pandemics.
- The cloud – Organizations are making more use of the cloud because of its typical benefits like lower costs, scalability, and anywhere-anytime-accessibility. It also enables easier and faster implementation of new initiatives allowing all users of the data, like patients, providers and doctors to access it anytime they need. For organizations where full-fledged cloud infrastructures are adopted for all their processes, they can save a great deal on hardware and software maintenance costs, which lets them free up resources for more important projects.
- Self-sufficiency – With the advent of more and more technologies designed to engage patients, like wearables, health metrics tracking apps, patient portals and other such developments, people feel more empowered and self-sufficient to take ownership of their own health. Such devices also help in generating data that can probably play a major role in delivering personalized medicines and treatment. Once such data is integrated into our healthcare systems, with course of time, it will lead to the growth of personalized healthcare.
- Interoperability – The healthcare system of any organization needs to connect with external entities and systems for various purposes. Now, a basic level of such interoperability is already accomplished. The focus now is on bringing about a more advanced, safe and secure level of seamless interoperability between connected systems and external sources to provide a comprehensive view of a patient’s health. This again helps in collecting meaningful data that can be used for proactive health care in future.
- The pharma and healthcare – The collaboration between the pharma and healthcare has always proven beneficial for both industries. However, due to security concerns and different data standards, it has always been quite a challenge. But now, with significant improvements in the IT sector in security and cloud computing, the impact of these impediments is reduced and both industries are able to work and collaborate more freely with sufficient transparency in their processes. This also helps in providing data, such as drug trial results, genomics research, medical images and the like to different users in different industries, which can further improve the quality of healthcare as well as pharma products.
It’s basically all revolving around the data, that is, collecting more data, extracting insights from the data and doing more with the data that is captured. Hence, organizations not only need to look for more ways to work with all the data, but they also need to make use of full-fledged data platforms that help in the management and real-time integration of data, in a safe and secure manner.