The healthcare industry is one of the most important in the US. It helps us when we are sick and can tackle even the rarest and most deadly diseases. Recent advances in the provision and the scope of medical care have come about thanks to a series of technological advances. In various forms, technology plays a crucial role in care. As well as providing insights into the way our body works and responds to treatment, it can also help to reduce health inequity, cut costs and support greener practices.
The rate at which technology is advancing is phenomenal, and innovations have been deployed across almost every aspect of healthcare. This is an incredibly exciting time to start a career in medicine or prepare for a more senior role in the industry. Students of the online DNP FNP programs at Walsh University will be prepared for advanced leadership positions. Through their expertise and adoption of new technologies, it is these clinicians who will help to change patient care for the better.
Here are some of the key ways in which the health profession is being driven forward thanks to technology.
Using predictive analysis to inform decisions
In a field that is closely related to AI, predictive analysis and data integration help physicians and nurses gain a deeper insight into a person’s condition. With specialized software, medical teams can use a patient’s digital records to help them make a more precise diagnosis and select a treatment that will be effective. The software programs they employ gather vast amounts of data and then use this to predict what an individual patient might need. Of course, the results it produces are suggestions. Rather than taking away the authority of a nurse or physician, the program can provide recommendations for a diagnosis, a particular medication, or a treatment plan.
Improving mental health outcomes
According to research, one in five people in the US are living with a mental health problem. To help alleviate the issue, various forms of new technology are being rolled out. During the pandemic, many mental health professionals started to work online and consult their patients through video calls. In order to reach the maximum number of people and also cater to those who have trouble leaving home, psychologists and counselors continue to use this technology. Furthermore, digital therapeutics are increasingly being employed to manage new patients and provide an early diagnosis. The same type of technology can be used to spot the very early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Subtle changes to a person’s memory, reasoning, and communication skills can be hard to pick up by a human, but they can be detected at an early stage with software.
Monitoring and caring for patients virtually
Communication between devices and cloud storage is enabled through a technology known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Using this network, the healthcare system has established what it calls the Internet of Medical Things. This is a collection of pioneering medical tools, which includes wearables, sensors, and 5G devices. In terms of sensors, physicians can ask a patient to swallow a smart pill that is used to gather information and take measurements as it travels through the body. It can also monitor the side effects of medication and alert physicians if the patient has not taken it correctly.
The IoT can also provide virtual care by facilitating the creation of remote hospitals within a primary care facility. This involves offering ultrasounds and other investigative treatments and then passing the data on to another facility for further investigation.
Digital monitoring for remote patients
When a patient has a chronic condition, they need to be monitored regularly and receive ongoing care based on the results of these checks. Through a computer or an app suggested by their doctor, patients can monitor their symptoms and then change their medication or their behavior depending on its findings. Patients might also use bedside devices that allow medical staff to monitor their condition remotely.
The rise of wearables
Wearables are innovative gadgets that can be worn like a watch, necklace, or pedometer. They provide information to the medical team caring for a patient remotely. This might include updating them on the person’s blood oxygen level, heart rate, and more. Wearables can cut down on the number of visits a patient has to make to the hospital and reduce readmissions. Rather than waiting for a patient to notice a problem, the team can get in touch with a patient to offer advice or alter medication if they need to.
3D bioprinting using live cells
Known as bioprinting in the medical world, 3D printing technology can create implants, airway stents, and more, all of which can be adapted for an individual patient. The procedure works using a digital file that contains information about the patient. Using the data from this file, a bioprinter creates layers of biomaterials and cells that replicate an organic structure. Once they are in situ, the living cells can grow and multiply. Currently, this technology is most commonly used in wound healing, but eventually, it could become a central component in organ transplants.
Immunotherapy is one of the courses of treatment used to prolong the lives of people who have cancer. It works by modifying the cells of a patient on a genetic level so that they start to work in harmony with the body’s immune system and help suppress or wipe out the cancer. Unlike other forms of cancer therapy, such as chemotherapy, it does not cause any damage to the person’s healthy cells. Instead, it harnesses the power that already exists within the human body – the immune system.
Artificial intelligence processes data swiftly
As well as playing a prominent role in transportation, shopping, and computing, AI is furthering the possibilities of healthcare. It can be used to examine the personal data of each patient, design improved versions of medication, and develop diagnostic procedures. In fact, AI in its various forms is one of the most vital technologies used in healthcare. In particular, machine learning is having a major influence on treatments and diagnosis.
Machine learning can assist physicians with analyzing CT scans, which saves time and lowers the risk of human error. Furthermore, it can aid in the diagnosis of conditions such as cancer. Previously, clinicians have had to rely on the results of a biopsy to learn more about their patient’s condition. However, this procedure cannot always deliver a complete analysis of the surrounding organ tissue. Today, using machine learning, it is possible to perform a digital scan of the areas that are impacted by cell mutations, and far wider sections can be covered.
AI gives medical professionals a wider view of their patient’s condition. This allows them to avoid errors and make more informed decisions about how to proceed. Furthermore, it helps them select the right tests and interpret them with more clarity, as well as providing guidance when it comes to treatment.
Virtual reality for the treatment of phobias
Both virtual and augmented reality have applications in healthcare. They make it possible for nurses and physicians to connect a digital environment on a screen with the real-world physical environment. When a patient is suffering from a phobia that is affecting their day-to-day life, a course of VR therapy can assist. It is often used alongside traditional treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy to help a person recognize and deal with what is at the heart of their fears. Using VR, the patient has a mild experience of their phobia or fear in a way that is controlled. In small steps, they can gradually build up their resistance until a breakthrough is reached.
Saving money with greener solutions
To save money, hospitals and clinics are turning to technology. Many facilities have now switched to an eco-friendly printing device for the labels they use in labs and for testing. They can also adopt a cloud strategy when it comes to sharing information across departments and with patients. By storing data virtually and then sending it by email instead of printing out paper copies, they can also save time when it comes to administration.
Telemedicine is another innovation that supports greener practices and saves money for the facility, as well as the patient. Primarily, when patients can speak with their doctor remotely, they have easy access to care. Secondly, both the provider and the patient benefit, as prompt care, even offered remotely, can prevent readmissions or emergency room visits.
Supporting medical professionals and delivering excellent care
In the future, more and more technologies will be put in place to improve the experience of receiving and providing care. Working alongside medical teams, these gadgets and innovations will relieve some of the day-to-day pressure that healthcare workers experience. Facilities can also improve efficiency, offer patients more value, and support multidisciplinary approaches to care.