Anyone that works in the medical field has at one time or another exclaimed that technology is incredible, and it really is amazing what tech advancements have done for the healthcare industry and patient care. Medicine and technology go hand in hand, as health demands create a need for technology to fill and in turn technology shapes the medical industry. Technological advancements are why doctors, nurses, and other medical staff need to be constantly learning new skills in line with the equipment and other tech that they use every day.
These advancements come in the form of space-age pharmaceuticals and expansions in noninvasive treatment, among many, many other things. In addition to changing treatments, technology also changes the way healthcare professionals treat, monitor, and communicate with patients while also improving patient care. Below are the four biggest tech movements in patient monitoring and care moving along in 2017.
A major benefit of technological advancements in patient care is that it also yields a lot of information gathered from a variety of places that all add up to paint an important picture. The added ability track information paired with high-tech analytics reveals a lot in terms of medical research and treatment. For example, in the United States, big data has been a valuable tool in accurately predicting which patients are more likely to bounce back to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, and it also indicates the suggested treatment plan for each patient based on statistical analytics.
The trick is to make the data meaningful in order to derive any use – otherwise, you have a pile of information without a purpose. Done properly, you can harvest vast amounts of anonymous data to create a personalized treatment plan for every patient.
Nowadays everything is wireless, and medical patient sensors are finally catching up. The forefront of patient care is wireless sensor technology that provides wearable, disposable medical sensors. It is estimated that more than five million on these sensors will be distributed by 2018. This tech development makes the patient more comfortable, but will also feed the big data expansion. Wireless sensor technology allows for continuous, highly accurate monitoring of change in condition while also recording and alerting medical staff when necessary.
Remote care is increasingly important and that is primarily due to the shifting population demographics. The U.S. population is an aging one and there is an ongoing growth in chronic illness patients, both connected and unconnected to aging. One option is telehealth, which includes appointments and other treatment typically conducted via a webcam. However, it can also include home medical devices that are a part of long-term treatments for chronic illness. At the end of 2013, around three million patients were being treated with remote care and that number is expected to grow to 19 million by 2018.
Electronic Patient Portals
All of this technology is useless unless doctors, nurses, patients, researchers, and insurers have easy access to it. Electronic patient portals offer a secure platform to share important medical data among several parties. Detailed EPPs include content management options, member profiles, blogs, discussion boards, glossaries, support groups, and more. This combines the benefits of a social network, but in a medically focused way (versus posting selfies).