With the rapid pace of technological innovation, it seems that digital solutions are affecting every aspect of modern life from music streaming to communication platforms. Well, the healthcare ecosystem has also been influenced by these changes. The good news is that digital advancements in medicine are proving helpful in improving the quality of care and care delivery logistics.
Here are 5 innovations that really are making a difference in the lives of patients and care providers.
1) “Virtual Care” – The emergence of “telehealth” solutions began in the early 2000s, but the proliferation of smartphones and WiFi has dramatically increased their adoption and practicality in the past couple of years. Even the name has transitioned, and most healthcare experts now talk in terms of “virtual care” and remote patient monitoring (RPM).
Virtual care is basically what the name implies—remote clinician visits that are completed through video conferencing. Not only does it save money and nurse or physician time, but it also improves patient compliance to care plans. People living in rural areas and those who are home-bound can benefit from regular monitoring without in-person doctors’ visits.
2) Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) – RPM is similar to virtual care but focused more on the monitoring of vital health data like blood pressure and glucose readings. RPM is often a form of passive monitoring and doesn’t always require active participation from the patient. Data is automatically relayed to treating physicians at regular intervals. Care plans can be adjusted accordingly for improved management of chronic diseases.
3) Smartphone Apps – Most Americans of all ages now own smartphones. As with other digital technologies, the tools were initially focused on recreation, email access and web browsing. However, the onset of healthcare apps has changed everything.
In addition to serving as a platform for RPM technologies, smartphone apps also are utilized by health systems and hospitals that want to provide instantly-accessible patient resources. Some facilitate the scheduling of doctors’ appointments and provide instant access to nurses who can answer medical questions 24/7. Others even offer proactive tools to improve health like step-counters and dietary resources.
4) Advanced Websites – Websites may not seem like examples of late-breaking digital innovation as we approach the 2020s. However, new versions are very interactive and serve as valuable patient tools. Just as with smartphone apps, some healthcare websites provide doctor appointment scheduling and instant, remote nurse access 24/7.
Providing greater access to resources is the name of the game, and websites join smartphone apps as a way to increase patient engagement and proactive health monitoring. Healthcare companies and consumers can expect websites to continue to provide more patient tools in the years to come.
5) AI & Machine Learning – Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning may sound futuristic, but these latest technologies are drastically changing the American healthcare landscape. “Population health management” relies on data that are analyzed by AI tools to predict risk factors that may affect individuals and groups of patients. Proactive measures can then be taken to confront the risks and mitigate the chances of medical events or the onset of chronic disease.
In the end, it’s hard to overstate the importance of digital technology in today’s healthcare delivery system. Industry leaders must stay current on the latest innovations in order to compete in the marketplace while also ensuring top-quality care.
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