Healthcare Predictions for 2021: The Need for Wireless Connectivity Will Only Grow
The healthcare industry has always relied on connectivity for patient care. From the early days of PA systems and pagers to the integration of computer systems, wireless connectivity, electronic health records, and HIPAA compliance, we’ve seen technology transform the healthcare industry over time. And each technology advancement has improved connectivity and communication methods.
Over the last year, we saw the healthcare industry rapidly transform once again. More widespread implementation of wireless connectivity solutions helped to better protect healthcare professionals during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. And healthcare providers relied on technology more than ever before to provide better patient care under these unique conditions.
Increased reliance on technology and the need for wireless connectivity won’t end with the epidemic – it will only continue to grow in the future.
Five Ways Technology Will Change Healthcare in the Future
The COVID-19 epidemic forever changed the way healthcare in our nation is delivered, consumed, and financed. It essentially thrust change upon the industry, forcing providers to think outside the box. And it’s ushering in exciting new technology that will continue to transform the industry.
Telehealth Services Will Continue to Expand
As more healthcare providers began offering more telehealth services, it made getting access to care easier and more convenient. With telehealth, patients required less time off of work. Rural area residents could access care more easily, not having to travel extended distances to seek help. And for services in high demand, such as mental health counseling, more people could gain access and get help sooner.
For healthcare providers, telehealth allows them to treat more patients in less time and generate more revenue. And with continued advancements in technology and telehealth platforms other healthcare services, such as sleep studies conducted at home, could also become more commonplace.
Fitness Trackers, Wearables, Sensors, and Healthcare Apps Can Enhance Patient Care
Digital technology that easily pairs with a smartphone empowers individuals and puts key components of their health back in the patient’s hands (literally). Fitness trackers give users instant insights into their exercise routines, showing real-time stats, such as speed, pace, number of steps, calories burned, etc. Similarly, wearables can also track movements, collect data, and monitor specific conditions such as motion/disturbances or breathing during sleep. Sensors offer another way to help users track biophysical signals, such as cardiac rhythms, blood sugar levels, etc. Newer, more sophisticated sensors entering the market can analyze a user’s sweat to measure hormone levels, drug interactions, electrolytes, alcohol consumption and more. And healthcare apps can give users access to their medical records virtually anywhere they can get a signal. Plus, the extensive assortment of apps available can help users with a plethora of health-related topics, from recipe apps for specific diets, meditation apps to relieve stress, motivational and mental health apps.
In addition to empowering patients, digital devices help medical professionals make diagnosis and recommendations by delivering more data and improving the accuracy of the information too. They also play a significant role in telemedicine.
Virtual Reality Studies Show Improvement in Patient Care
Virtual reality is being used in many studies currently from training surgeons to patient care. And some of the most impressive studies demonstrate the effectiveness of it’s use in improving patient recovery. One study shows using VR helps to lower patient pain levels after surgery. Another study showed VR helps improve patient mental health, especially for those in long term care by letting them escape the hospital bed and virtually travel wherever they choose.
Exciting Advances in the Growing Fields of Robotics, Nanotechnology, and 3D Printing
Robotics is one of the fastest growing fields in the healthcare industry. From disinfectant robots to robot companions used to treat mental health issues, and exoskeletons controlled by the brain – robots are assisting patients and providers alike.
Another exciting and expanding field is nanotechnology. Two recent and promising developments to come out of the field include:
- PillCam ™: Essentially a colon exam in a capsule, the PillCam™ provides a noninvasive, patient-friendly alternative to endoscopy or colonoscopy procedures.
- Remote-Controlled Ingestible Capsule: Researchers at MIT have developed a remote-controlled ingestible capsule that can reside in the stomach for up to a month and be operated by a user’s smartphone.
Advances in 3D printing play a vital role in patient care too. 3D printers can help surgeons better prepare for complex operations. By printing exact replicas of body parts that look realistic and mimic human parts, surgeons can practice ahead of the procedure, making the operational process more accurate and effective. 3D printed body parts also play an important role in training future doctors, providing more training and practice opportunities.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data
Artificial intelligence (AI) and Big Data have the potential to disrupt the healthcare industry as we currently know it and completely transform it. From AI being able to find commonalties in patient data to genome sequencing to help diagnose or prevent illnesses to making it easier to find drug trial p