Technology is constantly evolving, bringing a lot of advancements in every part of life. The healthcare system is no different as it has seen a lot of developments recently due to the continued progress in medicine.
The health risks posed by the modern lifestyle, rampant pollution, and the rapidly growing elderly population have all accelerated the advancements in medical technology in the past few years.
More recently, the pandemic has forced healthcare professionals to implement new ways of providing care to minimize the risks of exposure through the implementation of technology.
Following are ways how tech helps healthcare
1- Robust Equipment
Just as modern technology has given us gadgets like smartphones to make our everyday lives easier, it has also led to the invention of advanced medical equipment. Smart inhalers are used by asthma patients, connected by Bluetooth to their phones so they can see the date and time of their last dose and be reminded of their next one.
Pacemakers are used by over a million patients, but now they are set to become smarter and allow remote monitoring. Patients with diabetes used to require periodic testing of their glucose levels, but new wearable continuous glucose monitors will enable doctors to monitor their patients’ glucose levels in real time.
This will also show users the immediate effects of food, fasting, and exercise and allow them to change their lifestyles accordingly. Many facilities are employing hospital code readers that help match patients with the correct medicine, significantly reducing medicine errors and the adverse health outcomes that come with them.
Telehealth has been slowly gaining popularity over the last decade. Remote consultations are a convenient way for the elderly and the disabled to seek medical help from within their homes. More recently, the pandemic saw most hospitals flooded with patients.
A decade ago, no one could see their doctor without risking their health and safety. This was when the popularity of telehealth soared as it became the only way most people could consult their doctors safely.
Today, the advances in video conferencing technology and the wide availability of mobile internet have made telehealth much more advisable in cases where geography, language, and transportation act as barriers. Doctors can confer with their patients face-to-face while wearable devices record their vitals and send the information to the doctor.
As telehealth services save the time and energy of the doctor and the patient, this industry is only expected to grow, with a projected value of USD 186.7 billion by 2027.
3- Remote Patient Monitoring
The rapid rise in technology over the past few years has led to the invention of many wearable devices that can take patients’ vitals. Remote patient monitoring allows physicians to know what is happening with their patients without being physically close.
This data can be sent to their doctors continuously or after specific time intervals, ensuring that doctors are always aware of the health condition of their patients. This leads to faster response times which improves patient outcomes.
Remote patient monitoring also significantly improves revenue as doctors can care for more patients. This technology also goes hand-in-hand with telehealth, saving patients and doctors a lot of time.
4- 3D Printing
The first medical device to be 3D-printed was an eye-wash cup, but the technology has come a long way since. Years and years of observing implants and prosthetics have made it clear that the human body is more likely to respond well if the object implanted is tailored to it.
Customized prosthetics also lead to greater comfort and better performance. This is why 3D printing makes external prosthetics, airway stents, and orthopedic and cranial implants to improve health outcomes. 3D-printed models were used to plan and prepare complicated surgeries so surgeons could practice their techniques beforehand. Future research is focused on printing human tissue, which will render organ transplants obsolete.
5- Electronic Health Records
Previously, health records like a patient’s medical history, details of their past treatments, and the medications they take were kept in physical files. With the advancement of technology, more and more facilities are now opting to keep digital records.
It is relatively easy to share digital files with other doctors when a consultation is needed and to restrict unauthorized users from accessing them. Moreover, digital data can be analyzed by doctors and researchers to see if specific patterns emerge, which gives them valuable new insights into different diseases and the populations suffering from them.
During the pandemic, patients’ data were studied to identify new virus variants and take necessary precautions.
This is a precious area of research that has led to the cure of some previously incurable diseases. In immunotherapy, a person’s cells are genetically altered to work alongside their immune system to fight cancer cells.
As new biomarkers are discovered, the possibilities for immunotherapy remain endless. This treatment is much better than chemotherapy as no healthy cells are destroyed. With more research in this field, cells can be genetically engineered to detect and eliminate more and more types of cancerous cells.
Only a tiny portion of people who receive this treatment are seen to respond to it. Research is being conducted to predict who will respond to immunotherapy and what to do for people whose bodies are resistant to it.
The healthcare industry has significantly benefited from recent advancements in technology. New medical equipment and gadgets have been engineered to assist physicians in the many different aspects of their job.
Telehealth services have greatly improved to allow doctors to attend to patients who cannot afford to visit the hospital for one reason or another. Wearable monitors can record patients’ vitals and send the data to a physician’s phone, enabling them to monitor their patients from far away.
Smart pacemakers and inhalers can now be connected to smartphones via Bluetooth, while innovative equipment in hospitals reduces the number of medical errors and improves patient outcomes.
3D printing has many applications in healthcare as it allows the production of customized implants and prosthetics, which patients find more comfortable. Research is being conducted on immunotherapy to equip the human body to fight diseases previously considered incurable.
Health records are being digitalized, and the data generated is analyzed by researchers to gather valuable insight into different diseases and their effects. Technology will continue to improve the healthcare sector as engineers and researchers develop more innovations to change the world.