WebRTC Expert Feature

April 08, 2019

How can new technology improve health care?




Technology affects all industries and nearly all aspects of life, from customer relations to manufacturing. Once a new technology has become well-established, we barely notice that it’s there and accept it as a standard part of society. It is without a doubt that technology can improve the world that we live in, especially when used with the intention of enhancing vital services.

Of course, technology is at the foundation of health care. You need only have a ponder on the level of scientific theory and equipment at work in a typical hospital to see this. There, you have X-ray machines, brain scans, medications and surgeons who have everything they need to cut you open and replace an internal organ. None of these would be possible without advancements in technology.

Recently, technology has taken on a more specific role within health care systems. Where healthcare is freely available, such as in the U.K., budget cuts impact services. Technology, however, can reduce costs and empower patients to have more control over their health and recovery. And even where health care has privatized, technology becomes a competitive factor that can offer patients a more satisfying experience.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the current tech trends in health care.

Automation of Admin 

When the health care industry adopted electronic health records (EHR) in favor of traditional paper records, this was a big game changer. Now, fewer records are lost, data is more accessible to health care professionals when they need it and admin time and costs have reduced. The centralized data system also allows physicians to better predict viral outbreaks and infections.

However, the EHR system still has flaws. Doctors typically spend less than a third of their time treating patients and up to a third of their time entering patient notes into the EHR.

Such is likely to change with the widespread adoption of automation software, which will limit the need for professionals to physically interact with health records. For instance, the software can manually enter test results into patient’s records, update them and fill out the necessary paperwork.

Automation software can also handle tasks such as appointment booking and reminders as well as reduce the amount of time and resources spent on nearly all admin tasks.

Digital Health Apps 

There’s an app for everything, including pretty much every aspect of health care. There are apps for care management, pain management, medication reminders, diagnostics, fitness and mental health. Regarding the latter, the NHS uses VR to offer therapy for problems such as phobias.

Practitioners may choose to offer one or more apps to patients to help them to take a more proactive approach to their health.

In doing so, using digital health apps, patients can ask questions and get quicker responses, access information, book appointments and even text their doctor. That reduces strain on services and the number of unnecessary appointments, as more issues can resolve remotely.

Doctors also benefit from the mobile apps, which they can use to access patient’s EHRs and medical history, contact them and even prescribe medication.

Telemedicine and Health Monitoring 

“Telemedicine” has become increasingly common. It allows patients to meet virtually with doctors in a two-way video consultation. Again, this reduces the need for costly appointments. It is also exceptionally useful for rural communities who may struggle to access a health care institution.

Combined with health monitoring technology, telemedicine conferencing can increase the impact. For instance, modern pacemakers can monitor heart signals and send any anomalous results straight through to the health care practitioner. In doing so, it allows the doctor to instantly react to problems while the patient can recover and monitor their health from home.

As technology improves, patients may get access to more health care monitoring technology, and there are already plans to develop a remote ultrasound device. Such prospects look promising since remote health monitoring leads to instant savings, among other benefits, as evidenced by a study from the CHEST Journal that shows a 20 percent faster discharge rate and a 26 percent lower mortality rate.

Technology and health care have always been interlinked. However, recent advances give patients more ability to monitor their health and solve queries remotely. It’s a significant step for the industry and one that has resulted from increasing pressures and relentless admin. It will be fascinating to see whether remote health care technology can indeed improve the health of the world or whether it will detract from the patient-doctor relationship.

 

AUTHOR: Matthew Warburton

Matthew is a freelance writer with a passion for understanding society and the in which we live. He writes on diverse subjects, from healthcare and mental health to entertainment and lifestyle.







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