How Technology is Disrupting the Healthcare Sector

Author: Kristina Proffitt

22nd March 2018

When it comes to technology, disruption isn’t a negative word. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It means challenging and changing the status quo to find ways to improve processes. Just because something has been done a certain way for years or even decades, that doesn’t mean it’s the most effective, efficient, or accurate way to do things.

This is especially true in the healthcare sector, where new technology can change treatment outcomes and improve the quality of care. The potential for technology to do just that fascinates us, which is why we’ve put together this list of just some of the innovations that have the potential to help patients, their families, and healthcare professionals.

Some of these great ideas are already in place, while others are in their early stages. Either way, keep an eye out, because these are real game-changers!

Virtual consultations

Virtual consultations allow doctors to see more patients in a shorter amount of time.

They’re particularly useful for patients who can’t travel because they still get all the benefits of an appointment without the worry of leaving the house.

For healthcare systems under financial strains it means saving money on patient transportation and helping doctors see their patients without having to drive from house to house, too.

Virtual consultations don’t work for every condition and it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the importance of personal interactions, especially to isolated and vulnerable patients. But in situations where a disease is contagious and can spread quickly it save doctors a lot of time and reduces stress for everyone involved.

However, patients must own a webcam, laptop, smartphone, or tablet to take advantage of this so that doctors can see the patient’s symptoms. This may prevent some patients from benefitting from virtual appointments.

Online appointment bookings

It can often be difficult for patients to find appointments around their other commitments. Allowing patients to book appointments online based on the real-time availability of their doctor removes the hassle.

This helps avoid the need for lengthy phone calls where both patients and admin professionals need to cross-reference schedules. Instead, patients can choose a time that works for them, reducing the risk of missed appointments.

Appointment reminders

Missed appointments cost the NHS £162 million a year. By sending appointments reminders, this can be reduced dramatically.

Text message reminders are already a common – but expensive – way to send appointment reminders. When schedules are calendar synced, reminders can instead be sent for free via a patient’s calendar. This means healthcare providers can send as many reminders as they like at no additional cost. Reminders could be sent a week, a day, and an hour before the appointment to ensure it’s at the forefront of a patient’s mind.

Patient records

Even in the twenty-first century, it’s easy for patient records to get lost or mixed up. Blockchain helps to prevent this while also ensuring that patients’ data is secure. This then means that notes are less likely to get lost – or take months to move across – when a patient changes doctor.

More accurate diagnoses

Diagnosing patients accurately is a tough job. By taking advantage of AI, machine learning, big data, and blockchain, healthcare providers can build databases of symptoms to help them more accurately diagnose patients. They can also track patients’ records over a longer period of time without the risk of information getting lost.

For diseases that have symptoms similar to other diseases, or that don’t show up on tests – such as fibromyalgia or endometriosis – this can help doctors discern the hundreds of symptoms which come with such complicated health problems.

This information can then be used to help doctors work out the best course of treatment for patients based on their symptoms and the success of treatments for other patients. Doctors then no longer need to wait for new studies to come out revealing the affects of treatments – the data is always evolving.

Organ donation and prosthetics

Millions of people worldwide are waiting for an organ donation, but sadly, most of them miss out due to a shortage of donors.

3D printing can help to save millions of lives by eradicating the need for a donor. 3D printers can create new organs or tissue much faster, reducing how long a patient waits for a replacement.

The 3D printing of organs and tissue is still in its early stages, but 3D-printed prosthetics are being used all over the world to help people who’ve lost limbs or were born without them. Because 3D printing is so much cheaper, devices can even be printed and reprinted to help children who need them, meaning their prosthetics can grow as they do.

Wearable technology

Smartwatches and other wearable technology does so much more than just track how far you run.

For patients with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, monitors can sync to their smartphones to help them better manage their condition.

Wearable technology can also be used to regularly check patients’ blood pressure. While this is a simple test, many factors can interfere with it. Allowing patients to monitor their blood pressure 24/7 from a smartwatch means that they get more readings without the need to stop what they’re doing to get one.

Conclusion

These are just some of the hundreds of ways in which technology is disrupting the healthcare sector. Over the next few years we’ll also see increases in surgeries carried out by robots, less invasive tests for diseases, and more automation.

All of these advancements mean that patient care is both cheaper and more effective. More people can then get access to the healthcare that they need, potentially saving millions of lives.

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Kristina Proffitt

Date: 22nd March 2018 | Category: Healthcare