Healthcare technology has been transforming our lives in countless ways. Some of these are lifestyle changes – such as the way we consume media and the way we book taxis. Our recent visit to CES 2022 shows just how technology is powering consumer innovation. But to others, technology has created a much more profound change. In some cases, it has increased victims’ chances of survival after an illness or accident. Most importantly, technology has helped people lead fuller, more independent lives when long-term conditions strike.
This integration of technology into the lives of healthcare users is booming. Around the world, health providers find vastly improved outcomes thanks to technological advances.
In this article, we are going to look at those technologies in detail. Furthermore, understand the role they play in health systems.
IoT changes the game
The first of these innovations comes in the form of IoT, or Internet of Things. Industry professionals use the term “IoT” for an array of devices connected to each other via the internet. This means we can manage and track them using control systems.
In hospitals, IoT technologies connect everything from hospital beds to scanners. This means that we can track patients, their conditions and treatments in new ways.
And IoT has flourished with the increasing shift away from institutional care (i.e., hospitals and care homes). When a patient is at home, it’s essential that health professionals can easily monitor that person’s condition and lifestyle. IoT devices enable this flexible healthcare method. For example, care providers track a patient’s activity using motion sensors around the home, and their vitals can be tracked using wearables such as smartwatches. Even treatment is made easier with IoT devices, thanks to SIM cards built into pillboxes that track when a patient has taken their medication. When paired with voice technology, the power of IoT devices is invaluable in healthcare settings.
Voice IoT plays an invaluable role. It enables users to talk 1-2-1 with health professionals to describe their condition, but it also enables them to keep in touch with their support network too, playing a critical role in maintaining social connectedness and mental health.
The key to the successful use of IoT in healthcare, though, is network reliability. Healthcare providers and their service users must work with confidence, relying on the fact that these devices will work whenever they’re needed, without fail. That means a network platform that provides always-on connectivity.
AI is being used in part to analyse the vast amount of data that healthcare organisations can now collect about their patients’ conditions. Drawing insight and analysis from all this data is no easy job. But once this crucial work is done, AI can also be used to create and customise treatment plans and medication options for patients faster. And, importantly, in a more precise way than human healthcare teams can do on their own. There are huge savings to be made here in terms of the time and cost of medical expertise to perform what can be a seriously laborious task.
And AI’s contribution to healthcare doesn’t end there. AI is advancing the field of genomic medicine by analysing complex genetic information to determine the best kind of treatment for an individual based on their DNA profile. It’s hoped that at some stage in the near future, AI will be able to do even more to improve diagnostic accuracy and even go some way to predict health outcomes for patients.
The advance of robotics
Robots are used in medicine to transform surgery practices. A recent appointment by the NHS will see robotic surgery introduced in Wales. And that’s not all. During the pandemic, hospitals and clinics began to deploy robots for a much wider range of tasks. For example, healthcare professionals use robots to clean and prepare patient rooms independently, which limits risk, particularly in infectious disease wards. Robots with AI-enabled medicine identifier software are also used to reduce the time it takes to identify, match, and distribute medicine to patients in hospitals.
The more healthcare technology evolves, the more robots will be able to function autonomously. This frees up time for health professionals to be able to spend time with their patients.
Electronic health records
A patient’s full medical details can be stored digitally in the form of an electronic health record (EHRs). Authorised healthcare professionals then share these records across a range of settings. They may include demographics, medical history, medication, conditions such as allergies, immunization statuses, test results and a range of other information.
New technologies enable EHRs maintenance in a centralised, cloud-based portal. Now, health professionals can rely upon instant access should it be needed, and of course, authorised by the patient. This information can make a crucial difference to medical outcomes both in emergency and non-emergency situations. It can also be essential if there is a language barrier, or if the patient is unable to communicate.
EHRs are incredibly valuable when professionals from different healthcare spheres need to collaborate concerning patients with complex medical histories. EHRs have been around in some form for decades, but it’s only recently that the technology has developed to advance how easy they are to access, the kinds of information that are stored on them, and how secure they are.
If you’re a health provider with an interest in IoT or connectivity, OV can help. Just drop us a line and we’ll get together for an initial chat.