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Part of Western Governors University

August 30, 2018

Information Technology , Nursing & Healthcare

The rapidly changing landscape of healthcare tech.

Healthcare technology advancements

From AI to wearables, robotics to EHR analytics, telehealth/virtual health to genetics/genomics, even 3D printing — healthcare technology is seeing rapid advancement. Experts believe that this technological advancement will save money for hospitals, and save lives of patients as well. As the healthcare industry keeps growing, along with the number of individuals who need care, new technology will have a great impact on patients and employees alike.

The growing healthcare industry.

As the American population continues aging, healthcare professionals are increasingly in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the healthcare industry will grow 18% from 2016 to 2026, adding about 2.4 million jobs. This is much faster than job growth for most industries. This extremely high growth will occur as there is an increased emphasis on preventative care, an upward trend of chronic conditions like diabetes and obesity, and the need for healthcare as the baby-boomer population grows older. As the need for healthcare professionals increases, so does the need for healthcare technology.

Electronic health records (EHR).

Electronic health records simply mean that all your patient notes and information about your medical history are available electronically. Now, this may make you concerned, wondering if this is secure. Actually, electronic health records are often more safe than paper records. They are more difficult to steal, are heavily password protected and encrypted, making it hard for someone to walk away with your information. Blockchain technology is often being used as a means for healthcare security, and this technology makes your health records more safe than ever before. EHR doesn’t just mean your information is safe, it also makes it easier for doctors to transfer information to one another, and gives you accessibility to your own health notes, prescription information, and more. EHR means that doctors can utilize analytics and understand trends in patient needs across multiple patients, or look at information over time for one, single patient. This allows them to connect puzzle pieces and help patients get better, faster. As electronic health records continue to be improved on by healthcare technology, patient understanding of care and healthcare provider ability to treat will only improve.

 

Telehealth.

New technology in nursing that is making a splash is telehealth. Some hospitals and clinics are already utilizing this technology and allowing patients to basically Skype in to talk to a nurse or doctor. By being able to describe symptoms and show doctors things like rashes or bumps, they can get quick diagnosis from the comfort of their own home. Doctors can then let them know if they need to come in for further testing, prescribe medication, or give them advice on what to do to help. This saves time and money for both patients and providers alike.

Wearables and apps.

Additional advancements in telehealth are wearable devices and apps that can help doctors and nurses diagnose patients. A wearable device or an app can help doctors look at heart rates and temperatures without having a patient in the office. This information can help them understand what could be wrong with a patient beyond just looking at them and hearing their symptoms. Apps can also help patients understand when to call a doctor, and when their symptoms suggest something mild that an over-the-counter medication could help. All of this healthcare technology means that sick people don’t have to venture to the doctor unless it’s necessary, saving clinics and patients time, money, and the ability to stop spreading illnesses.

New technology in healthcare

Artificial intelligence.

AI is hugely changing how healthcare works, and the potential is even more diverse and amazing. New software allows for AI interpretation of medical images, and make a diagnosis of a specific eye disease without a human even looking or working with the software. As AI software continues to be developed and get more sophisticated, experts hope that more and more diseases will be able to be identified using this type of tech. From training, to end of life care, to research and analytics, artificial intelligence can help use routine understanding to work with healthcare patients. AI software also often gets smarter as it is used, meaning it can learn and develop as patients work with it.

Chatbots.

AI chatbots are just one element of artificial intelligence technology that has become extremely popular for the healthcare industry. Bedside chatbots allow patient records to be stored and utilized by nurses and other healthcare professionals as they go to learn about patients and treat them. But it’s not just staff that benefit from chatbots. Rather than needing to call or go into a clinic for answer to a simple question, patients can simply ask a chatbot and get information. From describing symptoms, to a question about medication or their healthcare record, chatbots can help patients get the information they need fast.

Genomics and genetics.

Advanced healthcare technology allows for increased analysis and research into genetics and how they impact patients. Imagine an in-depth analysis of your genetics as part of your treatment for specific diseases or illness. Knowing how patients could potentially react to certain medication or treatment based on their genetics can help doctors understand how best to help patients get better.

Technology in nursing

3D printing.

Advances in 3D printing are making huge impacts on the medical field. From personalized prosthetics, to 3D skin for burn patients, the possibilities are endless. 3D printing tech has already engineered a time-release pill for patients who take multiple medications every day, who can sometimes forget a pill at a certain time. This time-release, 3D printed capsule can house all their medication and release it in the body at the correct time. The possibilities for 3D printing in the healthcare world are exciting for patients and employees alike.

It’s obvious that advances in healthcare technology could vastly change how nurses and doctors do their job. From how they work with patients, to how research and analysis is conducted, the changes are all positive and geared around helping. Patients have the potential to see more transparency, and get better care, all because of advances in healthcare technology.

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