Emerging Technologies Assisting the Healthcare Industry

Jun 17, 2021
5 min read

Over the years, technology has accelerated at a rapid pace. We see improvement in various areas of our life with the advancement in technology; the way we use gadgets and equipment for learning, communicating, transporting, and for health emergencies. Innovations in Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation, robotics, and smart gadgets have greatly impacted the healthcare industry.

The Covid-19 pandemic has necessitated the need for early detection of infection, isolation, social distancing, and minimal human interference to reduce the transmission of the virus.

Digital healthcare technologies play a significant role in supporting epidemiological intelligence right from online datasets, identifying clusters of infections, monitoring travel patterns, rapid trace contacts, and communication of public-health messages.

Blockchain As A Catalyst to Streamline Healthcare Services

Blockchains are publicly distributed ledger transactions that are managed by a peer-to-peer network for use.

In healthcare technology, blockchain enables the medical community and researchers to create a single database for all medical data; real-time tracking of patient medical records that allows healthcare workers, doctors, and patients to share information safely and quickly.

Blockchain technology could be used in storing electronic medical records enabling coordinated care for patients within the network. The shared data of blockchain allows the capture of comprehensive data sets from various countries; including various ethnic groups, geographic areas, environments, and socio-economic backgrounds. This provides health researchers access to vast data samples to study diseases, facilitate new medical discoveries, design patient-specific treatment, and track and develop drugs quickly.

The advantages of blockchain to the healthcare industry are - easy accessibly to electronic medical records, remote monitoring of patients, transparency, and quick accessibility of data for health insurance claims.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in Healthcare Technology

Healthcare providers of various departments in a hospital need to perform multiple tasks which are repetitive such as:

  • Patient admission
  • Patient scheduling
  • Scheduling medical professionals for the job
  • Shift assignment
  • Collecting patient data and report,
  • Billing
  • Claims processing

RPA and automation address these issues making the healthcare system faster, efficient, minimizing errors, and improved patient satisfaction.

Some of the ways RPA streamlines hospital automation

  • Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Management – RPA helps keep medical records updated, synced, and be made accessible to various other departments such as labs, admin, billing, pharmacies, and claims to execute their duties.
  • Regulatory Compliance – Ensuring the security of sensitive patient information by restricting the data access to authorized persons and thereby adhering to the compliance and data privacy regulations.
  • Managing Staffing Levels – Caregivers are crucial to the smooth functioning of the hospital system and scheduling staff is a huge challenge. RPA automation across multiple business applications helps organize and schedule the right balance between the availability of sufficient staff for each shift without them being overburdened.
  • Organize Claims Processing – Processing claims is very challenging as hospital facilities use multiple business applications to process data. RPA organizes and automates individual claims by collecting and segregating patient records, grouping them, and transferring them to the respective claims management systems, thus minimizing errors and saving time.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Healthcare Technology

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a data protection act to ensure businesses adhere to strict guidelines while collecting, processing, and storing personal data. Penalty for non-compliance to GDPR has increased significantly under the Data Protection Act (DPA)

Healthcare providers and businesses have to cope with increasingly complex global privacy policies by constantly adapting to new privacy regulations, ensuring reliable data protection, and adapting systematic and programmatic approaches to simplify these operations.

Influence of Mobile Technologies in Healthcare Technology

Mobile technologies and apps are beginning to play a significant role in the healthcare industry. The development of user-friendly mobile apps has benefited healthcare by improved patient care and also helps increase the productivity of medical professionals.

Physicians can now better engage their patients using mobile computing charts and other wearable devices to help monitor patient their health and significantly reduce hospital visits and expenses.

What Is Mobile Health (mHealth)?

The Global Observatory for eHealth of the World Health Organization defines mHealth as “medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices, such as mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, personal digital assistants, and other wireless devices”. Mobile and wireless technologies have the potential to transform how health and healthcare services are delivered across the globe.

Benefits of Mobile Devices in Healthcare:

  • Continuous Data Flow – It bridges the gap between the large volumes of data that needs to be communicated between healthcare institutions and patients every second by reducing personal interaction by the practitioners.
  • Real-Time Communication - With the use of smartphones, doctors and nurses can share real-time prescriptions and instructions for faster patient recovery and use mobile cameras to examine patients remotely.
  • Enhances Physician Efficiency – Cell phones handle the cumbersome tasks of recording patient’s data, provide updated and accurate drug information, and automatically handles paperwork, thus allowing physicians more time to treat their patients.
  • Direct Patient Management – Doctors can directly monitor patients and provide real-time consultation for faster recovery with the help of fitness apps and wearable devices.
  • Improved Accuracy and Efficiency – Paper documents were hard to maintain and mistakes are hard to detect. With EMR, patient records can be accessed on smart devices and apps from any location and they are accurate and reliable. This facilitates smooth functioning among various medical caregivers, departments and patients, thereby enhancing hospital efficiency.
  • Better Communication – Using apps, doctors can make prescriptions helping patients procure the right medication and adhere to medication schedule as wells as scheduling follow-up appointments and setting reminders.

Advanced Diagnostic Technology in Healthcare

Healthcare analysts have observed that the increase in accessibility to reasonable medical treatment is evidence of how technology has changed the healthcare sector. The healthcare industry is constantly working to improve patient care and at the same time reduce medical expenses.

  • Tools and Gadgets - The advancement in technology has resulted in the availability of rapid diagnostic testing kits which are easy to use and generate test results within a few minutes.
  • Diagnostic Testing -The test results of advanced diagnostic testing and their efficiency determine whether certain therapies should be continued or not and also ensure that the right therapy is administered at the right time.
  • Artificial Intelligence - The introduction of Artificial Intelligence in the healthcare industry has shown significant improvement in areas of medical assistance and boosting diagnostic and treatment methods.

An article in Science Daily dated May 10, 2021, states that “Researchers at KU Leuven (Belgium) have developed a 3D printing technique that extends the possibilities of lateral flow testing. These tests are widespread in the form of the classic pregnancy test and the COVID-19 self-tests. With the new printing technique, advanced diagnostic tests can be produced that are quick, cheap, and easy to use.”

Conclusion

The advancement of healthcare technologies over the years have helped the healthcare industry in various ways, right from diagnosis of unknown pathogens and rapid test interpretation to remote patient treatment.

The implementation of technologies such as RPA, blockchain, and mobile technologies into the healthcare industry has resulted in streaming processes, increasing efficiency and accuracy, minimizing errors, lower healthcare cost, and has immensely improved quality of care.

The future of the healthcare industry depends on how the health sector embraces the emerging new technologies and how efficiently they can implement them in the organization to attain the true potential they offer.

Sources:

  1. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-030-51517-1_23
  2. https://www.softwebsolutions.com/resources/rpa-solution-for-healthcare-industry.html
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5116535/
  4. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/05/210510113544.htm