The Digitalization of Healthcare: Improving the Outlook of The Industry

Tracker, Fitness, Health, Exercise, Technology
By Andriana Moskovska, content curator and contributor,

With every technological advancement, we’re working toward a mostly digitized healthcare system. And, if the current results are anything to go by, the future is bound to be an exciting one. That said, though, we’ve still got a long way to go.

Healthcare is slowly embracing AI and other technologies to improve services to clients. Six out of 10 healthcare companies already use some form of internet of things (IoT).

We could do better when it comes to incorporating AI, but at least we’re making some progress. In this post, we’ll look at how higher levels of digitization will improve the healthcare industry.

More Digitization Means More Personalized Service

It seems paradoxical, but our current drive toward better efficiency has ignored the human aspect. Doctors today receive a lot of information, most of it digital. Their concern is that by needing to analyze these reams of data, they’ve got less time to deal with their patients.

Digital measurement standards being applied often leave doctors frustrated. They feel that they have to work toward standards that have little relation to the overall quality of work.

Artificial intelligence could change that. Not only can AI speed the diagnosis of conditions, but it can also provide a more rounded analysis of a doctor’s performance. AI can assess a range of factors quickly and easily.

Using AI can make it possible to assess how rules affect doctors at the ground level properly. That could lead to more rules that make sense once implemented, which, in turn, could lead to the scrapping of onerous regulations that get in the way of successful patient outcomes.

Digitization Can Fill Healthcare Data Gaps

If we look at the way that healthcare systems collect data, we see huge gaps. Most of the time, data is only collected when patients interact with the system. That is when they’re ill and need to see a doctor. This leads to a system of reactive treatments.

A genuinely useful healthcare system, though, should be able to predict potential health risks, give patients advice on how to manage those risks, and to collect as much data as possible when the person is feeling well.

We’ve had a range of monitoring tools for some years now. Fitbits, home blood pressure checkers, daily blood glucose monitoring kits are all examples of monitoring tools most of us have access to. Many of these tools can now be connected online. That leaves us with a wide range of options that can give our healthcare system a far more complete picture of our health.

Your Fitbit, for example, logs how many steps you walk on any given day. Your blood pressure kit can point out times when your blood pressure is particularly high.

Information that the machines can’t provide, such as how much food you ate, or how you’re feeling, could be entered into an app built for the purpose.

All the information could be sent through to a central hub for analysis. In the past, this would’ve meant having medical personnel pouring over each file. Bring AI into the picture, and the data is analyzed in seconds.

In fact, expect to see even more data being accessed. Perhaps that Fitbit sends in more than just the number of steps taken, but also sleep patterns.

The result?

AI can analyze the data and make recommendations based on real evidence. Say, for example, the patient likes to push themselves. They may choose to miss out on sleep regularly, thinking that it makes little difference to them.

The Fitbit could prove that they’re not as active during the day. The blood pressure monitor could determine that they’ve got elevated levels of blood pressure. Their food monitoring app could show that they’re more prone to making poor food choices.

The AI program monitoring their health could put together a summary of the evidence, highlighting the potential damage.

Monitoring things in this manner would allow us to pick up potential issues a lot sooner. This, in turn, could lead to more effective interventions being conducted earlier on. We’d have a better chance of recovery as a result.  

Doctors would also benefit from the wealth of day to day data that they could draw upon.

New Innovations Will Take Personal Healthcare to the Next Level

We’ve spoken about the data-gathering tools on the market today, like Fitbits. These are only a small part of what we can expect to see going forward. Further digitization means we’ll see monitoring devices become smaller and more powerful.

Bio-Integrated Sensors

Bio-integrated sensors like that developed by North Western University, are capable of analyzing sweat. What makes them unique is that they move with the skin. They look no more obtrusive than a tattoo would but are capable of monitoring a lot of data.

Biotech of this nature provides a non-obtrusive way to scan for disease, check vitals, and so on. Maybe at some time in the future, our bio patches could contain nanobots built into them. That could have exciting health implications.

Say, for example, that someone is at risk of a stroke. Doctors may have located a blood clot, but were unable to remove it. Perhaps the clot was too small to cause concern. Biotech could monitor the clot.

If it seems that it is getting bigger, or becoming dangerous, nanobots could be dispatched to the site to break it up. We could all, one day, carry our little army of nanobots. They could be useful in repairing damage, reducing plaque build-up in the arteries, and for a whole host of other medical conditions.

Final Notes

The most useful result of the digitization of healthcare is the easy access to information. Today our data is very scattered. You see a doctor, a dentist, optometrist, etc. Each different physician we visit keeps their file on us.

On your request, those various healthcare providers will undoubtedly share information. In an emergency, though, would that happen fast enough?

Or, what if you’re unconscious and unable to share pertinent information about your health. Like, for example, the fact that you’re allergic to penicillin.

Doctors in the ER would be able to scan your biotech and find an essential list of conditions, what medication you’re taking, and any allergies you might have. Digitization proves beneficial in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and disease. 

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