The impact of tech on the world has been phenomenal – as a regular visitor of Innovation Origins you probably are aware. Many areas of life have dramatically improved due to it, with increased access to knowledge, better communications, and generally making daily activities easier. One industry in particular that has seen significant improvement due to technology, is healthcare.
Healthcare as an industry will be around as long as there are human bodies, but it evolved significantly over the years. There have been significant breakthroughs throughout history, from the Germ Theory in 1961 to the discovery of Penicillin in 1928 – to name just two. Most recently, new and innovative technologies have paved the way for an even better quality of healthcare. From how doctors store information to how they monitor patients, tech has transformed the healthcare industry – here is how.
One of the most significant areas technology has developed is education, and people who teach or study medicine have certainly reaped its benefits.
Education overall has transformed due to the presence of online courses. With the software and communications that technology provides, students can attend classes from their homes. This includes many healthcare degrees – nurses can get their DNP degree from the comfort of their computers. This allows them the freedom to pursue further education while still working as healthcare professionals.
More people can now pursue their dream of entering the medical profession without physically attending college. With the increasing demand for many healthcare jobs, this is particularly important. Students can talk with their professors and peers, engage with course material, and hand in their assignments without ever having to step foot in a university.
Technology has also helped those in healthcare education by providing better research facilities. The internet is host to tons of information, with many credible articles and papers accessible through phones and computers. This means that students do not have to buy every single costly textbook or wait weeks for the book they need to return to their local library. From the moment they express an interest in entering the healthcare industry, they can start performing research from the comfort of their own home.
The internet also benefits those who have attained their healthcare qualifications but want to carry on their research. Medical professionals can teach themselves new things while keeping up with the latest medical developments from their mobile phones.
Electronic Health Records
Electronic health records have taken over a significant portion of paper records, which has been beneficial both financial-wise and space-wise. Without the need for a paper filing system, the rooms previously filled with patient records can be used for something else. It also means that patient records have become much more accessible all around.
One of the best ways electronic health records have improved the healthcare industry is by how it has made the sharing of patient records much easier. You can only imagine the difficulty in relaying crucial information about a patient’s medical background when they are miles away from their usual doctor… With electronic health records, medical professionals and patients have quicker access to the records, and in emergencies, this is extremely necessary.
Yes, there have been some worries about using electronic health records over the traditional paper filing system, such as concerns over accuracy and security. Measures are always taken to prevent this, however, with both worries taken seriously. For example, hospitals tend to use only the best cybersecurity software to protect their private data.
Not only does electronic health systems impact the lives of healthcare professionals and patients, but it also helps save the earth. With the reduced amount of paper waste, hospitals and clinics also reduce their negative environmental impact.
Healthcare is one of the largest areas positively impacted by wearable tech. Nurses and doctors can wear smartwatches to stay in contact with others, so they don’t have to carry their phones everywhere. Some wearable technology even provides medical professionals with data that shows them crucial information about their patients.
With the release of smartwatches, more and more people have become health-conscious. Many smartwatches keep track of the health stats and goals by monitoring the users’ fitness levels, medications, and heart-rate. This is great for those who struggle to keep track of their health. It also means that healthcare professionals can recommend smartwatches to patients who need to lose weight or lower their blood pressure.
3D printing creates a 3-dimensional object, and the results have improved significantly over the years, greatly impacting the healthcare industry. In 2008 already, 3D printing even made a prosthetic leg! Or what to think of 3D printed implants?
In healthcare, 3D printing allows care to be tailored toward specific patients, for example, with teeth implants. It also helps develop new medical tools, bringing new and innovative medical equipment to the world of healthcare.
When thinking about how technology has impacted the world of healthcare, you most likely jump straight to the most recent developments. One piece of tech that many people have known their whole lives and that made a significant improvement in healthcare was the invention of ultrasounds.
Many people cannot imagine not having access to a picture of their child in the womb, but it is only thanks to technology that this is even possible. Ultrasounds were invented in Glasgow, U.K. in 1956, allowing nurses and mothers-to-be access to an image of the child and information concerning both the mother and baby.
Ultrasounds show the size, age, position of the baby, and abnormalities like a cleft lip. This is all-important information for keeping both the baby and mother safe and well for the duration of the pregnancy and birth.
In the darker parts of history, many patients struggled to get access to a hospital bed at all. These days, many patients have access to smart beds, which is great for both patients and doctors.
Smart beds use a sensor to detect the movement of the patient. It means that if the patient falls in the night, their nurse or doctor is alerted immediately and can come to their aid much quicker. They are also used to monitor patient’s movements during the night, as the patterns may help the medical professionals come up with useful conclusions about their illness.
With millions of phone apps out there, it is only right that many of them help people with their health. Much like wearable technology, many phone apps allow the user access to their health stats and keep track of their progress. Taking health into your own hands means lifting some of the more trivial responsibilities out of medical professionals’ hands. Some of the best kinds of apps for doing this deal with are:
Mental Health Help
There are many apps you can download that allow you access to online counselors. This is beneficial for those who seek therapy but cannot afford to get it or are not ready to see someone in real life. It’s also great because it is on the go – if you are having a rough day, you can simply pull your phone out of your pocket and message a counselor.
With the number of fitness tracking apps used by millions, many more people have become health and fitness conscious. By using a fitness tracker, you can see the amount of exercise you are doing against the amount you should be. With the sedentary lifestyle led by many, this is a great eye-opener and motivator.
Previously, scheduling appointments was only done in person or on the phone. With many medical practices creating apps, however, many people are now scheduling appointments on their phones. This saves medical practices a lot of time and allows patients easier access to their doctors.
Those who use calorie counting apps can keep better track of what they are eating. With rising obesity levels, this is beneficial for the healthcare industry. Many people do not understand how much they are eating, so calorie counters are a great way of showing people if they are eating too little or too much.
If you take medications, then you understand how easy it is to accidentally skip a day. With apps notifying you of medications you must take, you are less likely to skip a day, improving your health and making your doctor’s life easier.
Automated External Defibrillators
Automated external defibrillators are used on patients who are having a sudden cardiac arrest. Due to their portability, they can be used both in and outside of hospitals.
Most people are familiar with defibrillators because of TV – the often-shown scene of a person being revived by using an electric jolt, and they are usually used in conjunction with CPR. With it being made portable, it means that even more people have access to this little device that can save somebody’s life.
AEDs are often placed in places like schools – buildings that hold many people for a large portion of the day. Some people even keep one in their homes if they are at a higher risk. Having access to one during a cardiac arrest can mean the difference between life and death, meaning AEDs have saved many lives, enormously impacting the world of healthcare.
AI is all about machine-learning algorithms, and it provides the healthcare industry with information that improves the quality of care. Many medical facilities use AI software for making predictions, observing patterns, and understanding risks.
Artificial intelligence also helps medical facilities automate administrative tasks, creating more time for doctors and nurses to focus on other important areas, and reduce costs all around.
When thinking of the phrase robotic surgery, the image of a human-like android might spring to mind, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Robotic systems help surgeons perform surgery, increasing precision, and control. They work best with tiny incisions.
The benefits of using robotic surgery include reduced pain and scarring, allowing the patient to recover much quicker and free up a hospital bed. When performing surgery, doctors aim to leave as little negative impact as possible, and robotic surgery helps with this.
Automated IV Pumps
IV pumps deliver fluids to patients, and when they are automated, nurses can rely on them to deliver the perfect amount. This means that nurses can focus on other areas of care with the patient, and the automated IV pump can do its job by itself.
In the past, many human errors have resulted in accidents with IV pumps, resulting in fatalities – the automated system significantly reduces this. This means that the creation of automated IV pumps didn’t only reduce time in medical facilities, but it has also saved lives.
Virtual reality is more than enhancing the video game experience – it is also used in hospitals. Both doctors and patients can watch the virtual reality of surgery to fully understand what goes on. For patients, this experience can ease their minds and make them feel more in control of what is about to happen to their bodies.
VR is also used for patients who are experiencing a lot of pain. When they are wearing the headset, their mind is taken someplace else, allowing them some freedom from what they are going through. It is the simplicity of mind over matter – no matter what their body is feeling, when their thoughts are elsewhere, pain is reduced.
All Communication Systems
One of the greatest ways technology has transformed the entire world is by allowing easier communications. Now, people can talk to each other from across the seas without any interruption. In the world of healthcare, this has had a significant impact. Patients can consult with specialized doctors from halfway across the world; medical teachers can keep in contact with online students; nurses can communicate with other staff members who are on the other side of the hospital.
Tech alongside people
The use of tech in the healthcare industry isn’t about replacing the need for humans – it’s about technology working alongside people in order to deliver the best care possible. Technology helps improve the quality of life, makes medical professionals’ work simpler, and saves many human lives. With technology already doing all of this, it is exciting to wonder what the future will bring.