Several technological developments changed the way we understand healthcare in recent years. The advances go far beyond the development of new products or practices for medical and surgical treatments.
Today, technology and health are practically inseparable at every stage of healthcare services: at the receptionist’s desk and in the way the patient is received, in the development of artificial intelligence to help with diagnosis, in first care that can be done remotely through mobile devices, etc.
New technologies are available to improve and speed up access to healthcare in general. Learn how some of these advances in healthcare will soon change your medical clinic or private practice forever.
Remote Services Will Likely Grow
Remote medical services became essential in 2020 during the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many patients decided it wasn’t worth putting their health at risk by traveling to a hospital or clinic for some routine treatment or just to assess for minor symptoms.
A remote medical appointment is carried out through a phone call or videoconference, with the doctor assisting the patient remotely. Another possibility already used by several clinics involves sensors that the patient connects to their body while at home or apps in which they enter data about their daily health routine, allowing doctors to monitor vital signs and observe changes remotely.
Even if the pandemic disappears completely, remote medical care is unlikely to be abandoned. After all, there are many benefits such as:
- The patient is not exposed to the hospital environment, avoiding the risk of agglomerations or contamination.
- No need to waste time or money traveling to the hospital/clinic.
- Access to specialists from several areas without the need to move to another neighborhood/city.
- No need to take time off work to go to the doctor.
- It’s particularly practical for elderly or disabled people.
A Focus on Patient Satisfaction
When was the last time you took a good look at how your patient is being treated, from the start of care to the time they receive the bill? Have you ever stopped to analyze how many times the patients are required to inform their personal data during an appointment (at the reception, to the nursing assistant, to the doctor, at the time of payment), how many employees they need to go through before reaching the doctor, etc.?
Technology should help clinics continue to improve based on patient feedback. The goal is to make a medical appointment a more seamless and peaceful experience. Your clinic can and should invest in platforms and applications that make it easier for the patient to schedule appointments, search data or solve billing issues. You can also use technology to reduce redundant information-gathering processes: with a digital system, your staff only need to collect the patient’s data once.
Electronic Health Information Access
Until recently, there was information blocking prohibiting the use of some electronic health services—such as trying to access patient records from other providers. The 21st Century Cures Act made a major impact by encouraging the interoperability of this information.
The Cures Act now prohibits health information providers and networks from adopting practices that limit the access, exchange, or use of electronic health information (EHI), creating new rules to make this data accessible to the patients when and how they want it.
This is another incentive to invest in the modernization and digitization of processes in your clinic. With data sharing and interoperability built into your IT infrastructure, everyone wins. For the health system as a whole, this new data-sharing technology also allows for agility in exchanging information on medical reports and insurance information.
Some people think that artificial intelligence (AI) is science fiction, but it’s been around for some time now. There are AI technologies for face recognition, inventory control in several facilities, and even for driving smart cars. Its application in healthcare was just a matter of time.
For now, one of the main applications is the use of artificial intelligence algorithms to analyze the volume of medical records and identify trends. Shortly, experts predict that AI will be able to use this same procedure to assess symptoms automatically, suggest treatments to patients, and help create new drugs based on case analyses and laboratory tests.
Mobile devices will be decisive in these advances. Soon, the selfies we take with our cell phone cameras will be analyzed by AIs in search of symptoms of dermatological and ophthalmological diseases, for example. Like everything else when it comes to advances in technology and medicine, the sky’s the limit.
More Technology for Better Care
Scientists and researchers project a fantastic future for the use of technology in healthcare. They are not referring to a distant future. Many of these advances were applied in a global pandemic scenario to avoid risks and should become common from now on.
For patients, the use of healthcare technology means faster and more accurate diagnoses, less waiting time to get an appointment (from scheduling to waiting for the doctor in the clinic’s waiting room), and fewer errors in diagnosis and billing.
For owners or managers of medical clinics, technology is an important partner that will allow them to streamline, modernize and improve a series of processes. More than that, these advances play an important role in improving overall health statistics.