What healthcare providers should demand from technology

By Alan Stocker, Health Practice Lead, Wavelink
Monday, 13 July, 2020

What healthcare providers should demand from technology

The healthcare industry is facing new and increased pressures as a result of COVID-19.

With industries across the board turning to digital solutions to help maintain productivity and continuity, the current crisis presents an opportunity for healthcare organisations to speed up their adoption of digital solutions. However, a recent survey revealed that 61% of healthcare providers did not have effective central systems and processes for patient life cycle management.1

The future of health care depends on organisations’ ability to take a digital-first and personalised approach to enhance patient experiences, optimise systems, drive efficiency, and lower operational and consumer costs.

The healthcare system has been undergoing digital transformation over the past few years; however, this has been accelerated by the pandemic, with some organisations undertaking rapid transformations to keep up with the unprecedented load.

This has seen organisations leverage emerging technologies such as automation and telemedicine to ease the strain on healthcare providers and significantly improve outcomes for patients.

In addition, governments around the globe have been heavily investing in cutting-edge technology to help fight the effects of COVID-19. This investment will deliver legacy benefits, enhancing the healthcare industry’s long-term technological capabilities. Investment in technology such as the Internet of Medical Things, surgical robotics, virtual care and artificial intelligence (AI) will reshape the future of the healthcare industry, letting healthcare providers focus on critical duties rather than routine tasks.

As organisations embrace emerging technologies, they must also consider their interoperability with legacy systems to ensure its seamless integration.

Healthcare providers that implement the below five technologies will be better placed to meet patient demands more effectively into the future.

1. Telehealth services

Telehealth started as a service for regional and remote communities. These services are now needed to provide health support and take some pressure off the health systems in metropolitan hubs and capital cities, particularly in light of COVID-19. Telehealth changes the way health care is delivered to improve access and health outcomes in a cost-effective manner.

2. Wearable technology

Wearable technology and the Internet of Things can radically transform treatment, allowing patients to receive treatment and monitoring at home rather than being admitted to hospital. Wearable health-related devices and sensors, plus mobile health apps, will help keep ill, elderly and vulnerable people safer and improve their health outcomes.

3. Tracking technology

Healthcare facilities need visibility of staff, patients and assets at any given time. The rapid spread of COVID-19 has stressed the importance of contact tracing to accurately track an individual’s interactions with people, surfaces and facility equipment. Given the critical nature of healthcare work, staff members need to be able to immediately locate and manage critical devices such as ventilators. Tracking technologies let healthcare professionals trace equipment-to-patient interactions, identify which assets are clean and ready for use, and provide real-time alerts if protocols are not properly followed before patient use. This means faster investigation and reporting of potential risks.

4. Automation and machine learning

COVID-19 has created an exponential demand for healthcare resources, forcing healthcare facilities to discover efficiencies and streamline workflows. Using automation technologies such as machine learning can assist in optimising staff resources and critical medical equipment, and can automate routine tasks such as communicating bed status or assigning patient rooms and staff members. With increased visibility and communication for staff, patient wait times are decreased so they’re treated promptly, leading to a better patient experience.

5. Artificial intelligence

AI can use electronic health records and other operational data to integrate with existing clinical workflow tools to provide real-time data. The use of AI and predictive analytics can help medical practitioners detect diseases earlier and more accurately than before. Rather than manually identifying patterns in diseases, healthcare professions can use AI to interpret patterns too subtle for the human eye to detect, directly from the data supplied.

One final consideration — one of the most important for healthcare organisations in preparing to adopt any of these new technologies — is cybersecurity. As medical devices become network-enabled and organisations become more connected, it’s essential to put strong cybersecurity systems in place to protect networks and prevent breaches that could have damaging consequences. To achieve this, it’s essential to have full network visibility, including all devices that are connected to the network so that they can be leveraged to their full potential in achieving better staff and patient experiences and long-term outcomes for the organisation.

  1. https://c1.sfdcstatic.com/content/dam/web/en_au/www/documents/pdf/patient-experience-australian-healthcare-change.pdf

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/elenabsl

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