Healthcare Advancements That Are Improving Patient Care

Bethesda Naval Medical Center, MarylandAdvancements in technology make your life easier every day. In the past decade, you’ve seen the smart home become a reality and cell phones are no longer used simply to text and place calls.

Thankfully, technology is also advancing in the medical field and, as such, dramatically helping to improve patient care. Many wearable devices are helping patients not only improve their quality of life but that also allow them and their doctors to monitor medical conditions.

Portable Oxygen

Some devices, such as the oxygen tank, have come a long way in recent years. Instead of having to lug a bulky tank from place to place, many people can now use a smaller design that you simply wear over your shoulder–similar to a purse–or transport in a tote. However, the cost of this device is not covered by all insurance companies. Additionally, many of the people who rely on daily supplemental oxygen are the elderly and they are on Medicare. Using health insurance, such as Medicare for oxygen usage, isn’t always covered 100 percent, making it hard for seniors on social security to live life comfortably.

ECG Monitors

In the past, a person had to visit their doctor periodically to have an EKG performed to monitor their heart health. Today, through advancements in technology, patients can monitor their health from the comfort of their homes. These portable, handheld devices are easy to use and provide almost instantaneous recorded measurements within just a few minutes. This lets patients retain a complete history of their condition over an extended period of time, allowing doctors to review it and use it as a valuable tool to make further recommendations regarding a patient’s health. Additionally, should an alarming reading occur, a patient can contact their doctor and head straight to a hospital.

Blood Pressure

Today patients with a history of high blood pressure can monitor their blood pressure from virtually anywhere. The smartwatch by HeartGuide is worn like a watch on your wrist. It works similarly to the traditional wrap-around blood pressure cuff found in a doctor’s office; only this one expands and then tightens at your wrist. The first of its kind, it has a 100 reading storage capacity and the patient can transfer them to a mobile app called HeartAdvisor. This lets their physician review the readings and proceed with life-saving treatment options.

Monitoring Diabetes

For people living with diabetes, the daily needle prick is not a pleasant experience. However, until recently, it was a necessary component in their monitoring of the disease. A surge in the population of people now living with the disease has resulted in the advancements of new methods of tracking glucose levels. Some companies, such as Abbott, introduced the FreeStyle Libre. The new technology features a wearable sensor placed on the backside of the upper part of the arm. The patient wears it for a period of 14 days while the sensor constantly monitors levels. It also comes with a handheld reader. Eversense is another company that provides a wearable sensor for monitoring glucose. Their device is administered by a doctor who places it under the skin. This device only needs changing every three months.

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Patients

In the past, if a doctor suspected a patient may be developing Alzheimer’s disease they had to evaluate the patient in the office. Generally, they had the patient perform a series of tasks to check their walking abilities concerning steady, even strides and consistent speed. Today, however, with advancements in technology, doctors can monitor patients they suspect of having Alzheimer’s disease through a sensor. The data obtained will then either confirm or rule it out.

Wearable devices such as smartwatches and biosensors can help to save lives.

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