Digital technologies are rapidly shaping the future of healthcare, redefining patient care and hospital management, allowing easy access to patient history, helping medical professionals provide better treatment, and giving more benefits:
#1. More effective data management and access
Electronic health records (EHRs) replacing outdated paper records has been a massive game changer for everyone in the healthcare industry. EHRs provide healthcare professionals with a systemized method of storing, organizing, managing, and accessing patient information like previous or pre-existing health issues, treatment period, medication, allergies, doctor details, and post-hospitalization information. EHRs can be accessed from nearly any medical facility, which is extremely useful for doctors assessing non-local or unresponsive patients, especially during medical emergencies. What’s more, efficient data collection means that detailed patient histories are available to practitioners so they can discover patterns and provide more accurate diagnoses.
#2. Better health monitoring
Patients are now empowered to take care of their own health through technologies such as health trackers and wearables that enable them to keep track of their weight, stress levels, sleep quality, and other health goals. In fact, 53% of people who use these devices share their data with their doctor.
Hospitals are also deploying Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) — a network of interconnected medical devices and applications — for continuous tracking of vitals, glucose levels, heart performance, and other parameters and activities.
#3. Easier access to healthcare professionals
Video conferencing, messaging, and mobile apps allow virtual visits with doctors, nurses, or other healthcare specialists. They give patients the option to stay at home and enjoy more convenient hours for check-ups and status updates. Currently, 23% of patients have had a virtual visit with a doctor or nurse, and 57% of those who haven’t are willing to try it. If all patients chose virtual healthcare over face-to-face visits, it could save the US health system $7 billion annually and provide time savings equivalent to that of 37,000 available doctors.
#4. Predictive to preventive healthcare
Intelligent analysis of important data points like medical history, past and present lifestyle, environment, habits, present medication, genetics, and other current symptoms can predict future ailments and make way for preventive healthcare measures. Not only does this help medical practitioners provide data-based health treatment plans to patients, but it also reduces medical expenses for individuals and the government.
#5. Improved methods of medicine delivery
Since 1995, 50 nanopharmaceuticals have received FDA approval. Nanopharmaceuticals use nanoparticles and nanodevices to act as precise drug targeting and delivery systems. For example, Max Planck Institute researchers have been experimenting with exceptionally micro-sized — smaller than a millimeter — robots that literally swim through bodily fluids to administer drugs in a highly targeted way.
Nanomedicine will be especially helpful for doctors who are treating cancer patients since it will allow them to deliver chemotherapy to targeted tumors instead of poisoning the entire body. It will also reduce the frequency of drug injections by slowly releasing medicine from a single nanoparticle. The potential of nanomedicine is so huge that the global nanomedicine market could be worth over $350 billion by 2025.
In addition, a 3D-printed pill, the “poly-pill,” is also being developed for patients with multiple illnesses. It can hold several drugs at once, each with different release times.
#6. More innovative healthcare worker training
Virtual reality (VR) is making waves in healthcare by providing multisensory experiences that train doctors in simulated environments. For example, MedStar Health is using VR headsets to immerse their healthcare workers in simulated emergency room scenarios. In one study, 93% of radiologists who viewed images of arteries through 3D virtual reality technology were more confident when diagnosing splenic artery aneurysms. VR is thus considered such a cost-effective and efficient tool for training that in five years, the value of VR services in medicine and healthcare is expected to skyrocket from $8.9 million in 2017 to $285 million in 2022.
#7. Inexpensive prosthetics, artificial bones, tiny organs, and others
3D printing is revolutionizing prosthetics, scoliosis braces, supports for amputees, artificial bones for surgical reconstruction, realistic synthetic skin for burn victims, and even organ transplants and tissue repair. It can be used to create tiny organs or “organoids,” which are made of layered stem cells that can grow inside the body of a patient and take over when an old organ fails.
California-based Not Impossible Labs took 3D printers to Sudan where war has left many people with amputated limbs. Mick Beling, the organization’s founder, trained locals on how to operate the 3D machines to create and fit patient-specific, inexpensive limbs.
3D printing is so powerful that Gartner’s Research Vice President Pete Basiliere says, “By 2021, 25% of surgeons will practice on 3D-printed models of the patient prior to surgery.” Not only that, the market of 3D printing for medical devices and medical needs is expected to exceed $1.7 billion in revenues by the end of 2022.
#9. Less invasive and more precise surgeries
Robot-assisted surgery allows doctors to perform delicate and complex procedures that are minimally invasive:
- Less risk of complications such as infection
- Less pain
- Less blood loss
- Quicker recovery
- Less noticeable scars
Typically, surgeons use a computer to control a device with a camera and mechanical arms to operate on patients, giving them a high-definition, magnified view of the surgical site.
We are living in revolutionary times for healthcare
The dynamic applications of technology are clearly disrupting the healthcare industry, and we’ve barely scratched the surface of tech-driven possibilities. That’s why healthcare institutions need to constantly keep up with the rapid technological developments. Since this can be quite challenging, they will greatly benefit from partnering with the IT experts of Red Key Solutions. With over 10 years of experience, we can help you leverage technology to provide excellent patient care. Schedule a consultation today!