Healthcare technology is always changing and evolving. Hospitals that want to keep up need to stay on top of the latest tech trends and incorporate them into patient treatment, especially as quality of care becomes more crucial to profitability and survival.
Pragati Verma, a representative from telecommunications company CenturyLink, wrote an article for Forbes about the latest up-and-coming tech advances that every hospital will be using in the next decade to improve patient care and boost outcomes.
Changes to watch
Facilities may want to start looking into these five emerging technologies now so they can start preparing:
- Connected medical devices. Start-up companies are investing millions of dollars into creating insulin pumps and pacemakers that can pick up signals and automatically transmit data to networked computers. These devices will also allow patients to see how they’re working in real-time, giving them the chance to monitor their own health. Other wearable devices track patients’ general fitness level and vital signs, and they’re already popular among health-conscious people. Technology for medical devices will only expand in the next decade, and hospitals can use them to improve patient outcomes.
- Quantified health data. Right now, patient data’s being collected and stored in different ways, including in electronic health records. And connected medical devices are in their infancy, storing their own information on patients. The next step is processing all this data from multiple platforms in a way that’s meaningful for providers and patients, and several companies are stepping up to accomplish this goal. Companies will translate and analyze this health data, making it an integral part of patients’ care plans instead of having it sit on computers, unused.
- Medical records on-the-go. Right now, most electronic health record (EHR) systems are hosted on physical servers, with few healthcare entities using cloud-based systems. As security technology improves, more EHRs will be hosted on cloud-based and web-based platforms. This means providers and patients can access them more easily on laptops, tablets and smartphones via a secure log-in to a website or online portal. Even better – this lays the framework for a more comprehensive health record, since access won’t be limited to a physical computer.
- On-call doctors via telehealth. The days of the traditional house call may be long gone, but technology offers new ways for providers to check-in on patients outside of an office visit. Telehealth is on the rise, and more payors are reimbursing providers and hospitals for treating patients remotely. The technology used to provide telehealth has gotten more sophisticated, and it’ll only get better over the next decade when combined with other emerging healthcare tech used to monitor vital signs from afar. In some cases, telehealth may even replace visits to the ED for certain urgent, but not life-threatening, illnesses.
- 3-D printing. Advances made in the field of 3-D printing have the potential to drastically transform the care provided at hospitals. Increasingly, this technology’s being used to improve prosthetics for patients – and it’s being talked about as a possible enhancement for joint replacement surgery (one of the biggest procedures being scrutinized by the feds). Down the line, 3-D printing may even revolutionize organ transplants – researchers are already looking at the feasibility of duplicating body parts like the outer ear.