There’s never been a more exciting era in the healthcare IT space than now. The intersection of disruptive technological innovation and a more tech-savvy generation of customers provides endless opportunities across a wide range of medical applications.
The healthcare industry has traditionally been reluctant to embrace tech. Given the strict regulations, the sensitivity of healthcare, and the potentially deadly consequences if something does go wrong, this reluctance is understandable. Slowly but surely though, healthcare is embracing IT, thereby unleashing new levels of efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Here’s a look at some of the key tech trends that are fast establishing a foothold in healthcare.
- Electronic Health Records
Patient medical records include identification information, diagnoses, laboratory reports, surgeries, treatment, prescriptions, progress reports, outcomes, and massage therapy SOAP notes. These records have traditionally been captured in different media such as paper, audio, video, image, and digital text. They are stored in electronic format for ease of retrieval and archiving.
But having the data in electronic form isn’t enough. You need software that can store, manipulate, and secure electronic health records while complying with relevant regulations such as HIPAA. Electronic health records software is making it easier for healthcare professions to access, update, and store patient data quicker. The patient journey is streamlined via automated email or text reminders, insurance eligibility verification, and specialist referral, so as to minimize the hassle in the process.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are helping simplify the administrative, surgical, and diagnostic tasks around the provision of medical care. AI is being applied to everything from assistive and diagnostic robots suitable for home-based treatment, to clinical robots that administer behavioral therapy.
For example, Google DeepMind’s image-assistive AI can help healthcare professionals rule out or detect sight-threatening illnesses and trigger their treatment in good time. AI is also finding applications in administrative automation to lessen the burden of routine functions and minimizing paperwork. It also leverages data to reduce patient wait time and lessen the workload for healthcare staff.
- Computer Vision
Medical professionals can improve diagnosis precision, reduce false positives, and save a lot of time by tapping into the power of computer vision. Computer vision is also referred to as image recognition. It is defined as a system’s ability to read and interpret images.
For example, you could use computer vision to detect the onset of cancer well before physical symptoms are visible. Computer vision may also be deployed in calculating the amount of blood lost during surgeries, measuring the proportion of fat in a patient’s body, and tracking an individual’s fitness.
- Wearable Technologies
Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin and smartwatches, in general, are already mainstream consumer gadgets. Providing real-time information on the wearer’s vital signs, their convenience and ease of use will only see them grow in popularity well into the foreseeable future. It has led to the emergence of a booming market where multiple health industry players, including hospitals, insurers, health IT companies, and medical professionals, have jumped onto the bandwagon in selling these gadgets.
The capability of wearable devices is expanding in breadth and sophistication. For instance, Apple recently released a Movement Disorder API that researchers can rely on to capture new insights on Parkinson’s Disease.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are helping break new ground in patient care. Think about a patient having the ability to see their blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and calorie burn through AR. Patients battling chronic conditions can keep tabs on their health without having to leave their homes. And if the patient needs medicine administered quickly, a doctor could use VR to remotely guide them in administering the medication on their own.
In the near future, and as the application of VR/AR grows, doctors will have the power to take patients through upcoming surgeries, explain the potential risks and show what the patient can do to stay safe and recover. Doctors will have the ability to develop AR and VR models that play out the entire surgery well before they walk into the theater.
New tech is bringing new changes to the management of patients. These technologies promise to deliver much greater speed, accuracy, security, and analysis in medical care.