The use of technology has become increasingly prevalent in every aspect of our lives. There are many industries where technology plays a significant role, but the healthcare sector stands out as one of the most important. Healthcare organizations and providers worldwide increasingly rely on emerging technologies to enhance patient care and save lives.
With the increasing reliance on healthcare technology, providers can continue to find opportunities to improve patient outcomes and healthcare services.
Healthcare technology is leveraged in hospitals and clinics to improve quality and productivity and gain insights into treatments and medicines. Nearly every sector of the healthcare industry strives to improve medical treatment.
Listed below are some of the most prominent trends in healthcare technology and the benefits they offer.
- Barcode Technology
In the healthcare sector, barcode technology is beneficial for verifying medical test procedures, locating crucial medical equipment, and maintaining patient records. Codes consist of white spaces and black bars through which information about the item or patient can be decoded by scanning and processing them. Barcodes can be found on patient wristbands, employee badges, sample vials, equipment, and supplies.
There’s a wide range of sizes, symbols, and alphanumeric configurations available. A healthcare scanner or imager captures barcode data and transmits it to a computer for decoding and processing.
It’s imperative to keep inventory and assets organized, track how much of each item is left in stock, and maintain a system to keep things organized and safe. Since healthcare facilities use barcodes on their inventory, there’s virtually no chance of running out of an essential item in an emergency.
Many healthcare facilities, where patients with varying levels of medical need frequently co-exist and interact, have also begun using barcode labels on patients. Again, this is a situation where an error may be made easily, and the consequences could be severe. Healthcare providers treat the right patient with the proper treatment by equipping patients with wristbands with barcode labels.
- Telemedicine and Remote Healthcare
During the COVID-19 pandemic, remote consultations increased from 0.1% to 43.5%. The reasons for this increase were obvious.
Facilities allowing patients to be examined, diagnosed, and treated remotely are smart, regardless of whether contagious diseases exist.
In telemedicine, audio and visual media facilitate real-time communication between the patient and the healthcare provider.
The primary use of telemedicine is its ability to offer convenience to patients and practitioners since it eliminates the need for face-to-face consultations for treatment and advice. Additionally, it is cost-effective to use this service instead of waiting for a doctor’s appointment.
Also, telemedicine can handle urgent calls once doctors’ offices close. Patients with chronic diseases like hypertension or diabetes benefit significantly from it. People who do not require immediate medical attention but require assistance with prescription refills, dietary changes, or perhaps even group counseling may benefit from telemedicine.
- IoT and Wearables
In recent years, wearables and Internet of Things technologies have grown in popularity, resulting in a greater potential for use in the healthcare sector. Several have coined the term “Internet of Medical Things” to describe applications in the field of telemedicine.
At the beginning of 2021, there were approximately 11.3 billion connected IoT devices. By 2026, the global market for IoT medical devices is expected to reach USD 94.2 billion, a significant increase from USD 26.5 billion in 2021. Due to the growing importance of these technologies within the healthcare sector, the Internet of Things cannot be overlooked.
Using the IoMT, doctors and patients can communicate more effectively, improve patient outcomes, and reduce the number of visits to the doctor’s office.
Using IoMT devices and applications, patients can receive treatment earlier and take their medications more consistently. The result is a reduction in treatment costs since doctors can prevent more severe conditions and hospitalizations.
Besides providing new data, the IoMT is also responsible for consolidating and analyzing data from various sources. Consequently, practitioners can make better decisions regarding patient health when diagnosing and treating patients.
- Virtual and Augmented Reality
Until recently, virtual reality was considered an emerging technology that belonged exclusively to the gaming industry. Today, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) offer various applications beyond entertainment and gaming.
By using VR in healthcare, surgeons and patients can gain a greater level of comfort when preparing for and performing surgery. In addition, many studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of VR in assisting with chronic pain relief and mental health issues.
Various conditions are being treated with virtual reality, including mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and phobias. A provider may construct realistic simulations of actual situations using VR and AR technologies that challenge the psychological well-being of people – for example, dealing with social anxiety, height phobias, and eating disorders.
Even though people are aware when they use a virtual reality headset or an app that utilizes augmented reality that they are entering an artificial environment, they can overcome their fear by wearing the headset and experiencing it.
With the emergence of innovative technology, the healthcare sector is constantly striving to keep up. Regardless of whether you look at the current trend of digitization, or several future technologies that are set to disrupt the healthcare industry, most healthcare organizations will depend on a solid digital infrastructure to succeed.
It is clear that technology has a positive impact on healthcare. A hospital making a digital transition will benefit from healthcare advancements, trends, and innovations.