6 Ways Technology is Changing the Healthcare Industry

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Jun 21, 2019

Jun 21, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

With the great strides in technology, various industries are redefining accuracy and efficiency. In the dynamic world of healthcare, both doctors and patients are entering a new frontier.

As technology continues to evolve, so do the different kinds of illnesses. In the United States alone, hospitals record over 36 million admissions annually. But thankfully, technology is helping medical practitioners face these challenges head-on.

Technology is changing the healthcare industry as a whole.

If you are wondering how the latest technological advancements are shaping the industry, we invite you to read further. Let’s take a closer look at some of the valuable gifts of technology to healthcare.

Changing the Healthcare Industry One Tech at a Time

Technology and all its advancements will continue to shape the healthcare industry. It also helps that people continue to pursue IT careers.

Though IT covers different areas, healthcare is one of them, thankfully. But what exactly are the latest technologies that are helping doctors? What specific inventions are making the lives of patients better?

Here are six that are making a huge impact in the medical world.

1. Digitalization

First, doctors, nurses, and medical coding professionals now use electronic health records (EHRs). These EHRs are digital copies of patient records. Before, hospitals use paper to record details of their patients.

Today, medical technicians and nurses simply input information in a centralized digital system. Moreover, medical billers and coders use diagnostic codes to update patient information. The same thing goes for facilitating healthcare claims to various insurance providers.

On the part of the patients, they can now access their records with a few clicks from the computer. They can clearly understand the details of their records faster. Gone are the days when patients painstakingly deciphered the handwriting of their physicians.

Digitalization also helps doctors, hospitals, and other stakeholders connect. It allows them to collaborate in creating efficient health systems. It empowers them to create standardized frameworks and security assessment, among others.

2. Robotic-Assisted Surgeries

Technology also changed the way doctors perform various surgical procedures. Today, some hospitals use surgical tools that come with mechanical arms and cameras. These allow the doctors to look at the surgical site in High Definition (HD).

The surgical tools connect to a nearby computer. The doctors use the computer to control the tools’ movements. Through the HD videos, they can magnify their views to get a clearer picture.

Technology also brought forth procedures that are minimally invasive. These equate to fewer infections and complications. Moreover, patients experience less pain and blood loss.

Some procedures also help patients recover faster. Patients also get to enjoy less scarring from the surgeries.

Interestingly, surveys show that more patients are starting to embrace robot-assisted surgeries. This, after learning about its benefits in safety and accuracy.

Still connected to robotics, some hospitals are starting to use robotic process automation. This technology helps cut the amount of time people spend on repetitive tasks.

Robotics also help increase the safety of hospitals. Machines can now scan medical ID bracelets. These bracelets contain details of the patients and medical personnel alike.

3. Machine Learning

Another amazing development is the use of machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI). These advancements enable doctors to diagnose illnesses early. They also increase the physicians’ level of accuracy in their diagnosis.

Today, doctors can diagnose a myriad of illnesses in their infancy stage. Some of these illnesses include stroke and heart disease. They can also detect eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy glaucoma.

They can also address macular degeneration.

In addition, AI machines can now diagnose skin cancer more accurately than dermatologists.

Some hospitals also use apps that feature AI. One example is the Wound Care Advantage in Sierra Madre, California. The center uses the app for tissue analytics.

The technology helps them identify and measure a wound base using a short video. The app simply generates the video through the smartphone.

Last year, the FDA cleared a number of AI algorithms. An example is MaxQ AI’s Accipio Ix. It is an AI workflow tool that helps clinics prioritize adult patients with specific health conditions.

The tool focuses its attention on patients with acute intracranial hemorrhage.

Another is the AI software system IDx-DR. This provides autonomous detection of diabetic retinopathy among adults suffering from diabetes.

Then there is OsteoDetect by Imagen. Through its AI algorithm, it scans X-ray images for distal radius fractures.

4. Virtual Healthcare

There is also virtual healthcare. This aims to reduce physical visits to hospitals without compromising diagnosis. Today, patients can enjoy virtual visits to their doctors, nurses, and other medical specialists. They can do so through messaging, mobile apps, and video conferencing.

Virtual healthcare saves patients the hassle of traveling to the hospital for check-ups and status updates. It also lets patients connect with specialists who are currently out of town or in another country. It also builds the foundation for in-person visits.

Interestingly, it also saves five minutes for every appointment with a primary care physician. That number equates to 18% of the workforce.

This translates to around $7 billion of savings in economic value.

Today, there are apps that work as virtual assistants. They use text-to-speak capabilities as well as voice recognition to perform virtual consultations.

There are also algorithms that help patients perform self-diagnosis. Moreover, there are apps that help patients locate the nearest medical professionals. They can pinpoint practitioners that belong within their network.

Another notable creation is the augmented reality (AR) tool HoloLens by Microsoft. It helps create 3D holographic images of heart scarring. This aids cardiologists as they perform procedures using the AR device.

In addition, leading medical centers like the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center use virtual reality (VR). They use VR to conduct continuing medical education. The program features 25 hours of actual surgeries. They use 360 VR technology to record these surgeries.

Observers project the value of the virtual healthcare industry to reach $285 million by 2022.

5. Nanomedicine

Another helpful technology is nanomedicine. This involves controlling individual molecules and atoms at the nanoscale level. It is capable of zooming in to the1 to 100 nanometer range.

Through nanomedicine, doctors can administer smaller drugs. They can also perform delivery systems with top-notch precision.

For example, cancer specialists can administer chemotherapy in a more targeted manner. Though chemotherapy is effective in killing cancer cells, it also kills healthy cells.

Through nanomedicine, doctors can directly target chemotherapy toward the tumors. Nanomedicine will also reduce the need for drug injections. It can do so by slowly releasing the medicine using a single nanoparticle.

Nanomedicine lets the body to absorb drugs faster. In addition, it allows the medicine to remain active in the body for a longer period of time.

Apart from the actual treatment, nanotechnology also helps in diagnostics. Through its magnetic, optical, and structural properties, it yields remarkable results in tumor detection. In addition, diagnostic imaging is non-invasive.

Observers believe that the nanomedicine market will reach the $350 billion mark by the year 2025.

6. 3D Printing

Lastly, there is 3D printing.  This creates different tools for both practitioners and patients. Today’s 3D printers can manufacture medical tools from different kinds of materials. These include simple materials like plastic, as well as complex ones like stem cells.

3D printers can create artificial bones.

This helps patients who require surgical reconstruction. These printers can also build customized prosthetics. They can also manufacture supports for amputated patients.

For more complex medical cases, doctors can now print small organs or “organoids.” These layered stem cells grow inside the body. Their purpose is to replace old organs that no longer function.

Interestingly, the number of American hospitals that house 3D printing facilities grew dramatically. From a measly total of three hospitals in 2010, the number reached over a hundred in 2016.

Challenges and Disadvantages

Keep in mind that these technological advancements have their challenges and downsides. EHRs, for example, may encounter a lack of interconnectivity among its networks.

When it comes to AI, there is the risk of overdependence on a central data point. Doctors may encounter problems accessing patient data when bandwidth and connectivity problems arise.

There is also the risk of hacking. Cybercriminals are capable of hacking into medical records. Not too long ago, hackers stole records from one of the country’s biggest insurance providers.

They stole personal information of close to 80 million clients and employees.

As for mobile medical equipment, there is always the risk of human error. You can lose mobile devices to thieves. You can compromise personal data through viruses and malware.

Despite these challenges, inventors and innovators continue to fine-tune their creations.

Embrace Changes Through Knowledge

These technological wonders help create a more promising healthcare industry. These creations aim to create more accurate and less painful procedures. With this in mind, people should continue to support research and development.

As individuals, we should continue to educate ourselves. We can only embrace these changes if we continue to learn about them.

We encourage you to check our other articles on science and technology. Read our other posts on the latest trends that are shaping different areas in society.