Healthcare innovation relies on expanding base knowledge as it improves technology designed to provide specific solutions in the healthcare field.
Add to the many challenges facing healthcare and coming out of a once-in-a-century pandemic that disrupted every country and society. Innovative solutions forged out of necessity have become commonplace.
Massive public and private investment in healthcare technology will improve health equity worldwide. Think of health equity as defined by the World Health Organization. They define health equity as “the absence of unfair and avoidable or remedial differences in health among population groups defined socially, economically, demographically or geographically.”
Healthcare can be more accessible and affordable through these tech improvements.
The front runner in making healthcare more equitable is the inclusion of telehealth as a standard form of healthcare visit. Before 2019, telehealth usage was thought to be around 840,000 patients, but due to the social distancing and stay-at-home orders in 2020, that number has grown to over 52 million.
While the impetus of the dramatic change to telehealth may have been born out of the necessity brought about by the pandemic, telehealth’s advantages have become commonplace industry-wide. The advantage of telehealth is that it empowers the patient, especially those in need.
Telehealth benefits people that lacked health insurance prior had transportation issues or even the cost of taking time off from work and losing the most labor. It also helped overworked office staff and stressed doctors to see more patients easier and quicker.
By eliminating the commute and waiting times and the need for office space to house patients, doctors can schedule more online appointments, making healthcare more convenient. With that convenience, the thought is that people will take advantage of the opportunity.
Also, lowering healthcare professionals’ expenses can reduce patient costs if and when in-person visits are necessary. With telehealth access, healthcare coverage is more accessible and affordable. In other words, the benefit of telehealth is better health for everyone.
The Internet Of Things And Medicine
The internet of things (IoT) is a technology concept defined by a growing network of physical objects interconnecting with software and other items such as sensors, wearables, and monitors. The integration of multiple devices and software applications benefits healthcare professionals in a variety of ways.
One of the main benefits of IoT and medicine is that patients have better remote monitoring capabilities. Wearables can track a patient’s movements, vitals, and other necessary data and provide them to healthcare professionals in real-time, giving better insights and reducing in-person visits.
Another benefit is improving the convenience of healthcare maintenance. The IoT providing real-time data to your healthcare provider will allow up-to-the-minute adjustments to care. Meanwhile, the in-the-moment data provides for tracking of inventory of items and devices, lowering costs to both the patient and the provider.
Another significant benefit of IoT and medicine can be seen in the application during surgery.
Take laser spine surgery. With the IoT, you could have a remote surgery team working with an on-site surgeon and their team to conduct the procedure. An added benefit is that trainees can learn without setting foot in the surgery room.
Increasing The Usage Of Wellness Apps
Wellness apps saw a dramatic uptick in usage over recent years. Apps like Headspace and Calm saw downloads in the millions, and the healthcare industry has quickly seen the advantages that those apps provide for patients and employees.
Benefits to wellness apps include cutting costs of providing off-site wellness events and training, greater access (equity) for all, and reducing the average cost of wellness while increasing overall job satisfaction.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
There are significant advantages to utilizing virtual and augmented reality tech. Virtual health care, such as telehealth, provides greater accessibility and convenience for the patient and the provider.
Augmented reality in surgery is a burgeoning field but one that has profound implications for research and training. With augmented training, the provider can have “hands-on” training without the risk of impacting a patient’s health.
In addition, those hours of augmented training will accelerate the learning curve for surgeons, lowering costs as a by-product.
There may have been different catalysts to shifting toward more reliance on technology, but out of need comes innovation, and the increased support for tech solutions in medicine will only make healthcare more accessible and benefit the provider and patient alike.