The healthcare sector has benefited greatly from the advancement of technology. The integration of technology in the medical field has changed the way healthcare professionals treat their patients and as a result, saving and treating countless more lives than before. Read on to find out more.
We have seen massive strides in innovation and improvement in the healthcare system. The emergence of different forms of technology has made the healthcare system a more reliable and effective delivery system. The integration of technology in the medical field has changed the way healthcare professionals treat their patients and as a result, saving and treating countless more lives than before. Doctors can now better diagnose potential strokes as a result of blood clots, saving time and brain cells. The detection of eye diseases, heart diseases and cancer are now much easier to identify and confirm since the integration of technology in the healthcare industry. So let’s have a look at some of the major changes that have taken place and how it has changed the medical space.
1. Digitisation of Health Records
Every time we make a visit to the doctor, our visit and purpose of the visit are logged in their database. Before the use of cloud computing and online database collection, these used to be done on paper and kept in files. I still remember going to the clinic and seeing my doctor trying to find my health records in a drawer mixed with hundreds of other patient files. This was not only time-consuming but also unreliable as it is easy for documents to go missing. Now that health records have been digitised, the entire process has become much easier and much less stressful.
The digitisation of data has served two advantages:
- Increased efficiency and time saving – Professionals no longer have to spend time asking patients’ the history of their health and medications. These are stored on an online shared database that can be accessed from any almost any medical facility. Nurses and technicians responsible for inputting data collected from medical tests and medical billing have become a more efficient process. Digitisation of health records means reduced wait times at clinics and hospital, easy access and organised storage of patient data. Patients too can access all their records with just one click, making it easier to file for insurance claims and so on.
- Better patient care – Electronic Health Records are able to decode results and make sense of the data. These help doctors identify potential problems, covering any sensitive health issues that would have gone undetected. Therefore, if any irregularities have been detected, a doctor or nurse will be alerted.
2. Developments in AI
Artificial Intelligence is gaining popularity in many fields, including the healthcare system. The incorporation and use of AI within the healthcare industry is expected to see a rise of 40% by the end of 2021. With its investment in the industry increasing to $6.6 billion. AI is changing the healthcare system by improving the treatment of patients. Artificial Intelligence works to quickly and more accurately diagnose medical conditions. AI in this field can.
- Generate automated reminders for patients to take their medications within a specific timeframe
- Giving personalised dosage recommendations based on each individual and their surroundings.
- Detect underlying conditions that would have gone undetected otherwise.
- Improve aspects of the healthcare system such as increasing cybersecurity, confirming diagnostics and suggesting the most effective treatment approaches, assisting in radiographic imaging.
The biggest advantage AI serves in the field of healthcare is comprehensive analytics. Artificial intelligence systems are excellent at categorising data and conducting medical imaging analysis which can help uncover a comprehensive history of the patient’s biological makeup and all the risk factors associated with their health.
3. Virtual Appointments and Assistants
The emergence of online apps and technologies have given rise to virtual treatments. Now patients can make appointments and have consultation sessions with their doctor from a remote location. Virtual appointments have proved popular among patients for a number of reasons including:
- Convenient hours
- Being able to reach a doctor/ nurse for help when not well enough to leave the house
- For those that have relocated but want to keep receiving advice and treatment from the same doctor/ hospital.
The introduction of virtual assistant nurses has also seen some great advantages in maintaining the health of patients. It provides more personalised treatment to patients by assisting them with their daily routine, setting reminders for appointments and taking medications on time or by simply answering questions a patient may have in relation to their health. These virtual assistants make patient care hassle-free. If something out of the ordinary is detected in a patient, the virtual assistant can notify nurses and doctors straight away. Not only that, it allows patients to feel comfortable as many of them also have built-in entertainment apps installed for patients, allowing them to listen to music or access the internet.
4. Robot-Assisted Surgery
Surgeries always come with their own set of risks and side-effects. However, technology has significantly reduced many of these risks. Robot-assisted surgery is done using the help of robotic systems. It allows surgeons to perform operations with more control and precision. Since the addition of robotic systems in surgical healthcare, surgeons have not only had more confidence in conducting surgery but have also had more successful operations resulting in minimal side effects. As a result, patients feel less pain and have less blood loss after the surgery all the while experiencing faster recovery times.
But how does robot-assisted surgery work?
Surgical tools are connected to mechanical arms and cameras. The cameras allow surgeons to get a better look of a selected area while the mechanical arms assist in more precise insertions, reducing any extra damage as a side-effect of surgery.
5. 3D Printing
3D printing is starting to revolutionise the healthcare industry. 3D printing is being incorporated in the medical field to create customised prosthetics at a fraction of the cost.
The introduction of 3D printing in the healthcare system was a revolutionary step to improving the healthcare patients receive. 3D printing has allowed the creation of many healthcare-related products such as:
- Poly-pills – This is designed for patients that need to take multiple medications. A poly-pill consists of several different drugs. Each drug in the poly-pill carries the same properties as the drugs would individually. Therefore patients with multiple illnesses can receive treatment via just one pill.
- Miniaturized version of organs – By collecting stem cells of an organ, one can make tissues from these cells to create a small version of an organ. These 3D produced organs can grow inside the patients’ body and eventually replace an old organ when it fails.
- Prosthetics and skin replacement – Aside from creating miniature versions of organs, 3D printing has also proven to be a great success in creating high-quality prosthetics. Not only that, but it can also create artificial bones for surgical reconstruction and skin replacements for burn victims.
The possibilities that 3D printing brings into the healthcare system is endless. Interested? Have a read of this article on the strides 3D printing has been taking in the medical field.
6. Virtual Reality for Treatment
Virtual reality has boomed in the entertainment and gaming industry recently. But it has also brought its benefits to the healthcare field. Virtual reality is seen to be making significant improvements for mental health patients. The simulators can recreate similar traumatic events or situations from the past, helping patients to confront and deal with their emotions. Being immersed in virtual reality has also proven to reduce levels of physical pain, anxiety and stress. It is being adapted as a new form of therapy around many healthcare facilities.
VR has been beneficial for doctors as well. It has helped practitioners obtain a more comprehensive analysis and study of our internal organs by displaying a 360-degree image. It is also being used to help budding practitioners and surgeons.
7. Using Temptraq
A popular addition to the healthcare field among parents with new-borns. TempTraq is a patch that can monitor and record a child’s health in real-time. Babies, as you can imagine, are more prone to illnesses and infections during the early stages. TempTraq is used to continually sense and record the internal body temperature directly onto your phone allowing parents to monitor their new-borns health stress-free.
A smart robot assistant developed in Japan. RIBA is a robotic nurse that helps assist bed-ridden patients in moving from one place to another without causing any injuries. RIBA works by carefully lifting patients from beds to wheelchairs to toilets and more. They’re basically home nurses. These robots will most likely see a rise in elderly healthcare. This reduces the need for an injured person to have someone to look after them at all times. Robot assistants such as these have helped improve, not only a patient’s health but their lifestyle as well. Elderly and disabled patients can now have a sense of independence and a lifestyle where they do not require the constant help of another human being.