Guest post contributed by Hannah Whittenly
The healthcare industry has traditionally been a field of cutting-edge technologies in the pursuit of better patient outcomes. What’s different in the present generation is that advancements are closely tied to computer technology and the pace of change is accelerating. Healthcare administrators are being forced to make difficult choices in implementing the changes that will provide more efficient and effective patient care.
An increasingly wide variety of products are now available for monitoring patients both from home and within facilities. Many of the newest devices are Wi-Fi capable and can be used to upload patient vitals for physician review. These devices can track a variety of other behaviors like calories burned, diet, following prescriptions, sleep time, and more. The traditional concepts of “wearables” are now re-engineered as high-tech devices, like implanted biochips. One use, for example, are chips that can monitor glucose levels in diabetics and trigger automated responses such as activation of insulin pumps or electronic alerts to caregivers. These wearables are becoming increasingly sophisticated to make patient care more consistent and accurate.
Analyze with Big Data
The collection of this kind of patient information and its effect on diagnosis and treatment is leading to better decision-making among caregivers. Big data systems for organizing and processing a growing mass of information are becoming increasingly common among hospitals as well as research facilities. Analytics can provide valuable insights not just into medical care, but administration. Keeping up with new innovations and equipment is difficult and expensive. The cost of a new high-tech dental practice can run from $350,000 to $500,000. Operational data can be captured by locating scanners throughout facilities and affixing sensors to equipment and staff badges. Workflows, patient behaviors, supplies, and critical tools are all being monitored to develop more efficient operations. These two types of data working together are lowering costs while improving quality of care.
Give Patients Access
Healthcare organizations and providers are beginning to adopt and develop more robust tools for patient access. Patient involvement and commitment to ongoing treatments is an important part of successful outcomes. Internet portals allow patients to review their own healthcare information, access knowledge bases, schedule their own appointments, revisit prescription information, and ask questions or even request video chat. Providing this kind of personalized, remote interaction between medical visits helps to keep patients more focused and informed regarding their conditions or treatments. This is a great convenience that makes patient care smoother and easier for both sides.
Emerging technologies offering better medical outcomes but requiring substantial investment are some of the major challenges to medical professionals. Despite the demand for improving patient care, administrators must make smart purchasing decisions. Many innovations are “disruptive technologies” that change healthcare models and require reorganization of workflows. The race to provide the best possible care in the face of competition and patient expectations encourage purchasing costly technologies that can impact costs and prices for years to come. The most successful practices are those that can implement broad changes in a way that’s focused on the patient outcome, not technology for technology’s sake. For instance, modern cosmetic dentistry in Salinas, California, and other such clinics in various locations incorporates a variety of technologies. These include digital x-rays or new cone beam imaging, tiny intraoral cameras, electronic billing, and patient charting, and services like oral cancer screening for a flexible, rather than specialized, approach to medical technology.
The healthcare industry is constantly changing, but like other industries medical professionals find that a scramble to have the latest technologies and gadgets isn’t a wise move in the business sense. It provides a better ROI to incorporate a range of technologies that deliver on the primary goal of better patient outcomes.