The government even offered federal funding through the Medicare Electronic Health Records Incentive Program for smaller providers struggling with the cost of transitioning to digital records. Most medical professionals didn’t stop at electronic medical records (EMR). The evolution of digital technology in the healthcare industry continues as healthcare practitioners and organizations seek new and more efficient ways to provide services. Here’s how:
Digital Patient Charts
Healthcare facilities that upgrade to digital patient charting can save money by eliminating paper supplies and reducing the amount of time administrative staff spends on data entry. Digital charts reduce repetitive tasks by automating them. For example, digital charting can take over the patient registration process so it’s completed in one step instead of two. By having customers enter their information digitally, administrative staff saves time by no longer having to manually input the information found on the patient paper forms into the database.
Digital charts can also reduce errors by displaying a photo of the patient, flagging patient allergies, or displaying recently collected data so the patient doesn’t have to repeat the same information to several medical staff. Some patient charting applications even include voice control so a surgeon or doctor can dictate observations during a procedure or surgery while it’s occurring, instead of having to wait to write or type remarks later, when details are more easily forgotten.
Consumers have embraced smartwatches for fitness purposes. Healthcare professionals are turning to the popularity of wearable technology to monitor patient medical conditions more accurately. Tracking health conditions while patients are out in the real world can provide more accurate data than in a controlled clinical environment like a hospital.
Wearable electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors look like a smartwatch but can measure an electrocardiogram and even detect atrial fibrillation. Physicians can log in to view a patient’s data as it’s reported in real-time. For more critical conditions like arrhythmia, a physician can set the wearable monitor to email or text them if certain preset conditions are triggered.
Blood Pressure Wearables
Blood pressure monitors can be worn day and night to record how a patient’s blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day. The data is automatically transferred to the medical facility so a healthcare professional can review how a patient’s blood pressure varies and what, exactly, triggers a change.
The latest biosensors come in the form of a small self-adhesive patch so a patient can go about their normal life while the device collects heart and respiratory rates, temperature, and other types of data 24/7.
Wearable technology can help a medical provider improve patient outcomes. Monitoring a patient’s health condition and looking for small but significant changes to their health can reduce a patient’s risk of events like cardiac arrest or respiratory failure. The best part is, today’s wearables are small and comfortable, so they don’t interfere with a patient’s daily activities and routine. Nor do they affect the patient’s lifestyle or mobility since hospitalization is no longer necessary for some of the most common forms of testing.
Telehealth allows a patient to seek medical health from a remotely-located physician via video chat like Skype. Online doctors are increasing in popularity as patients turn to accessible and lower-cost care for simpler health ailments such as a cold, flu, or minor burn. Telehealth can be extremely convenient for both the patient and the doctor. A patient can seek a consultation 24 hours a day from the comfort of their home. And the risk of spreading cold, flu, or other germs is reduced as the patient remains at home to seek treatment and recover.
The technology required to implement remote consultations is accessible. In most cases, all that’s needed is an internet connection, videoconferencing software, and a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
The digitization of healthcare is inevitable. Security measures need to be stepped up to safeguard confidential medical data from breaches. Keeping software and equipment up to date can reduce security vulnerabilities. Healthcare facilities should set up regular automated backups, preferably offsite and to the cloud. This will protect patient data from being stolen in case of facility burglary where computer devices can be accessed. Expect to see wider applications of distributed cloud networks, where data is spread throughout multiple geographic locations, making it more difficult to hack the cloud’s records.
How Digital Healthcare Affects the Medical Workforce The speed of technological advancement is faster than the workforce’s knowledge. The medical industry is experiencing a digital transformation where terms like cloud, digital analytics, and upscaling are the new normal. Healthcare organizations need to train staff, so they’re capable of effectively working with the ever-evolving technology.
About the author:
Frankie Wallace is a recent graduate from the University of Montana. Wallace currently resides in Boise, Idaho.