Technology is an important part of patient care and improves medication tracking and follow-ups. Various devices connect to the internet of things (IoT), making it easier for patients and their providers to stay updated on the latest developments in their health.
Research shows doctors misdiagnose about 12 million people a year. Such statistics have the brightest minds in medicine looking for solutions to common errors. Other challenges the medical profession faces are prescriptions interfering with one another, patients not taking advice and miscommunication.
Fortunately, technology can handle all these problems and more. With the help of artificial intelligence (AI), doctors can ensure people live longer, healthier lives than ever before. Here are some of the ways technology has already improved patient care and will continue to do so.
1. Easier Access to Doctors
When the pandemic struck, people turned to a technology already in place, but not widely used—telemedicine. Many insurance companies now consider a video consultation as an office visit and patients only have to pay their copay.
The many advantages of telemedicine include instant access, the ability to meet with the doctor on a lunch hour or break and thus not have to take time off work and those who live rural or are housebound being able to “go to the doctor” without leaving their homes.
2. Better Senior Care
Senior care faces some steep challenges now and in coming years. In the United States, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day. Facilities often find themselves overwhelmed and understaffed.
However, emerging technology allows senior care facilities to better organize their staff, ensure people get the care they need and even plan overtime so the center doesn’t run over on budget.
Technology also allows nurses to monitor a patient more accurately between shift changes, make sure people get their meds on time and do the typical checks needed of those with health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
3. Faster Results
Put yourself in the shoes of a person waiting on results from a scan where they are checking for cancer or to see if they have a particular disease. By utilizing technology, results come back faster and information is distributed more easily between the lab and the doctor’s office or hospital.
One example of how technology improves patient care can be seen in the most recent COVID-19 pandemic. If someone thinks they might have the virus, they can get a rapid test back in as little as a few minutes and a longer test in a day. Knowing they are positive or negative ensures they isolate if necessary and also helps doctors prescribe a treatment regimen most likely to keep them out of the hospital.
4. Fewer Medication Errors
Errors in medication are a big issue in healthcare. The typical person has multiple doctors, including specialists. They may not always be aware of what another provider prescribed. While the pharmacy might catch some mistakes, people sometimes use multiple pharmacies to get the best rates on prescription medications.
According to the National Institute of Health, between 7,000 and 9,000 people die each year due to medication errors. Problems occur when two separate scripts sound similar or drugs interact with one another. By putting information into a computer rather than writing out prescriptions, it’s more likely such errors get caught.
5. Predicting Outbreaks
Utilizing data from different areas of the country and tracking numbers allows professionals to tap into AI and figure out where the next big outbreak might be. Hospitals can prepare for a potential surge in patients and make sure they have supplies on hand to treat the most common illness of the moment.
With the pandemic, state and local officials can inform the public when there are a high number of cases, so people can choose to stay home or avoid others in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.
In the future, the ability to predict where a flu outbreak or other illness might most likely spread may help reduce numbers of those growing ill and reduce serious side effects and deaths.
6. Easily Accessible Records
One of the biggest issues with multiple healthcare professionals working with a patient is lack of communication between offices. However, with the popularity of cloud computing, it is much easier for each new healthcare provider to access details on what’s been done before, see test results and know what medications the patient currently takes.
In addition to different healthcare providers having immediate access to files, patients can easily access their records. If someone wants to look a bit more closely at test results or can’t remember details from an office visit, everything is online, including doctors’ notes.
When patients are more involved in their own care, they are more likely to follow instructions and even catch errors. They have a vested interest to ensure no major mistakes are made. While healthcare providers take an oath to do no harm, errors sometimes happen, so an extra set of eyes is a positive change.
7. Remote Monitoring
Patients can now monitor their own health at home with devices that report to the cloud. Sometimes the device is as simple as a watch that tracks exercise or heart rate. However, there are other devices that are more intensive and can test and send blood sugar levels throughout the day and even alert the patient if numbers go too high or low.
As the IoT expands and more people buy devices meant to improve their health, expect technology to have an even greater impact on the future of patient care.
The Future of Tech and Patient Care
What new devices and capabilities appear in the future is hard to guess. Technology changes rapidly, and healthcare may be one of the industries most impacted by those shifts. Pay attention to the cutting-edge work of some of the big research hospitals and see what devices and big data works best for you.