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Healthcare has come a long way since the days when your doctor would carry a little black bag and make house calls.
Now, you can research ailments on the computer (and get yourself worked up over the worst-case scenario) and automatically refill your prescriptions from an app on your phone.
But, those aren’t the only ways technology is revolutionizing healthcare.
An by Bradley University cites research done by PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute that claimed 2017 & 2018 as important years for innovation in the healthcare industry. New technology continues to change the way nurses and healthcare providers provide treatment to their patients.
Nearly 90% of hospitals are now using basic electronic health records (EHRs). HealthIT.gov outlines what EHRs are intended to do:
· Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities
· Engage patients and family
· Improve care coordination, and population and public health
· Maintain privacy and security of patient health information
The overall objective of using EHRs should result in:
· Better clinical outcomes
· Improved population health outcomes
· Increased transparency and efficiency
· Empowered individuals
· More robust research data on health systems
This is only one instance of technology making a difference in the healthcare world. Let’s take a closer look at a few others.
AI Medical Assistance
There will be a shortage of 12.9 million healthcare workers in the global market by 2035. With over 7.6 billion people on this planet, that shortage means that the wait times for emergency rooms and doctor’s offices will continue to get significantly longer.
One way technology fills the healthcare professional vacancies is by using AI to optimize the clinical process. Typically, when you go to the doctor, an assistant will take your vitals, ask questions about your ailment, and then they’ll go get the doctor. The doctor will come in, chat for a few minutes, write a prescription and be on to the next patient. However, by utilizing AI assistance, doctors can focus on patients who need more than just a prescription for an antibiotic.
An example of this is the AI-powered app called Your.MD. When using the app, you will input your symptoms and the chatbot will provide you with understandable information about what ails you.
Another example is Ada, which is AI that integrates with Amazon’s Alexa. As you continue to use Ada, it will become more familiar with your medical history, provide detailed symptom assessments, and even gives you an option to contact your physician. These are just a few examples of how AI might integrate into the healthcare space in the future.
Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, is working with Jamie Dimon, the CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, and Warren Buffet to “improve the experience of administering health care”. The trio announced an unnamed initiative that will shake up the healthcare world. Namely, they intend on creating an independent health care company for their US employees.
These business juggernauts are, like many Americans, fed up with the inefficiencies of healthcare in the country, and they’re hoping to “create solutions that benefit our U.S. employees, their families and, potentially, all Americans,” as Dimon stated in a Chicago Tribune article.
The three men hope to use Amazon Web Services to create and maintain “better digital records,” include “intelligent physician provisioning,” and utilize “cleverer insurance schemes.”
Outpatient care is becoming more common, rising 96% from 2006 to 2013, and more hospitals are shifting their funding to reflect this. More money is being allocated to outpatient focused projects such as creating urgent care centers and renovating emergency departments.
These changes are in response to the changes in healthcare. Incentives are being put in place to encourage the changes that will enhance their patient’s experience. Some of the tools that are being implemented to improve outpatient care include:
· mHealth – Healthcare devices are now mobile. This allows doctors, nurses, and even patients to monitor their health status while on-the-go. There are over 165,000 consumers using mobile health applications, and it’s only expected to increase over time.
· Telemedicine/Telehealth – There have been studies that show the benefit of using telehealth in rural neighborhoods. People who cannot access the same resources as those living in metropolitan areas can use telehealth to monitor blood pressure, weight, oxygen levels and more from home.
It is estimated that by 2020, 40% of all devices that are connected to the Internet will have some kind of healthcare app installed. These apps can be used to record and track your medical history, but the IoT-connected devices can also analyze that data to help medical professionals understand how the mind and body function in certain situations.
Did you know that there are 35 million people who are over 65 years old in the United States? 1 in 3 of those seniors will fall each year, and of those who have fallen, half of them will need help getting back up! Just imagine how wearable technology could make a difference to help someone who's fallen.
Although your grandparents or parents may scoff at things like the Emergency Alert necklaces, what if fitness trackers were able to alert family members, caregivers, or emergency personnel of a fall? The fallen individual would not be alone and suffering from a potential broken bone or head injury because help would be on the way.
Blockchain and healthcare seem like two completely different topics, right? SimplyVital Health is looking to change that. The startup company is hoping to address different aspects of the healthcare industry by introducing ConnectingCare and Health Nexus.
ConnectingCare is a platform that generates revenue by using blockchain.
SimplyVital Health’s CTO, Lucas Hendren explains:
“It uses care coordination and financial forecasting to help providers in bundled payments get insight into what happens to patients when they leave the hospital. It is a strategic early use case for blockchain in healthcare because it uses blockchain as an immutable audit trail.”
Health Nexus ultimately allows healthcare providers to share data easier and more efficiently, but it will also allow for each provider to monetize their data by selling it to key enterprises. Should Health Nexus become the “de facto marketplace,” researchers, healthcare providers and individuals will be able to find the services that suit their needs.
There’s no limit to how technology will continue to change the healthcare industry. Between apps that’ll help you figure out what is wrong and provide possible treatment options, to new health care companies being formed by non-healthcare professionals, who knows what other amazing innovations we will see in the future.