Empowering Healthcare: Innovations in Modern Patient Care

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Modern technology is dramatically reshaping the patient experience. 

Today, hospital and clinical visitors can get an answer to the question of what’s ailing them in minutes, in some cases, along with a treatment plan aimed at nursing them back to health. And in the coming years, technological innovation will continue to transform the field to become more patient-centric. 

If you need any additional proof, here are a few recent innovations that have significantly impacted patient care. 

  • Point-of-Care Testing Expedites Disease Testing

Until recently, patients often had to wait awhile to receive the results of medical tests. 

In most cases, they would need to visit a hospital or clinic and have a nurse or doctor collect a bodily fluid sample. From there, someone on staff would ship the sample to a medical laboratory, where a technician would run a series of tests on the sample to determine if the patient is positive or negative for a suspected disease. It was a lengthy process that delayed treatment. 

Now, doctors or nurses can administer a test and have the results back in minutes. It enables doctors to detect potentially life-threatening conditions, such as strokes, early on so they can begin treating the patient immediately. It also reduces follow-up appointments since the patient can obtain their results during the same visit. 

While point-of-care testing has existed for several decades, the applications of it continue to grow as researchers discover ways to test diseases for which they could not test in the past. 

  • 3D Printing Is Creating the Perfect Fit 

You can watch thousands of videos on YouTube of 3D printers creating everything from toys to cars. What you likely won’t find, however, is videos of them being used in patient care.

Surprisingly enough, healthcare systems worldwide are using 3D printers in a number of applications. For example, some surgical units are able to print forceps and clamps custom-designed based on the needs of individual surgery patients. 

Other providers use 3D printers to create implants and prosthetics for patients. In fact, studies have found that 3D printing could eventually transform how bone and muscle injuries are handled. 

  • Ambulatory Care is Delivering Care Close to Home

Healthcare systems are increasingly finding that it’s less expensive for them—and more convenient for their patients—to deliver care at a location near the patient rather than in a hospital miles away. 

Although outpatient clinics have existed for quite awhile, technology has made coordinating care across facilities simpler than ever before. As a result, patients are less likely to undergo the same test twice if they visit both a clinic and hospital within the same health system. 

The ease with which patient health records can be shared between facilities has also made it possible to reimagine the settings in which patients receive care. For example, rather than forcing patients to travel to a traditional clinic, many healthcare systems now operate smaller offices in drug stores and large retailers. Or, instead of going to a hospital for rheumatoid arthritis treatment, they can frequent a nearby IV infusion center

No matter the facility, the patient can feel confident providers will have their medical records readily available.

  • Biosensors and Wearables Are Collecting Valuable—and Actionable—Health Data

Apple Watches and FitBit are a mainstay on wrists around the world. They’re an easy way to track key biometrics such as our heart rate, sleep patterns, and daily steps.

Wearable technology has advanced leaps and bounds in recent years. Sweat sensors contained in watches can detect ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, and cystic fibrosis. Doctors can use data from smart watches to spot early signs of hypertension. 

Some more advanced biosensors can be used for the purposes of injury causation and prevention. Professional sports teams, for instance, use wearable technology during practice and games to monitor soft tissue wear and tear. The wealth of data available to healthcare professionals will only continue to grow in the coming years. 

  • Artificial Intelligence is Accelerating Diagnoses and Reducing Errors

One could argue artificial intelligence is the technology of the 2020s. Spend five minutes searching online and you’ll find hundreds of articles on applications of AI.

Unsurprisingly, AI has been widely deployed in the field of healthcare across a range of use cases. It’s being used to analyze chest x-rays to detect early signs of lung cancer, and to review mammograms for breast cancer. In many cases, AI is able to perform these analyses much faster and more accurately than any human can.

AI is even being used behind the counter at pharmacies. Researchers have developed a solution that uses multiple cameras to video the hand motions of pharmacy technicians throughout the compounding process. AI can analyze the footage to ensure the technicians are operating in a way that minimizes contamination. 

Simply put, AI can analyze data much faster while making far fewer errors than humans—and it’s a groundbreaking advancement in healthcare.

  • mRNA Technology is Reducing the Cost and Time Associated with Vaccine Development

The development of the Covid-19 vaccine in less than a year and a half remains one of the marvels of the 21st century. Now, the technology used to create it is being deployed to take on other diseases.

Messenger RNA vaccines, or mRNA, as it is more commonly known, cause the body’s cells to produce a protein associated with the targeted virus. The body then responds by producing antibodies to fight the infection. Unlike traditional vaccines, which use an inactive virus, mRNA vaccines can be rapidly developed since it’s much easier to create mRNA molecules than it is to produce the proteins associated with inactive viruses.

In the future, pharmaceutical companies will not only be able to use mRNA technology to fight off new strains of Covid, but take on other diseases, as well, including Malaria, Hepatitis C, and HIV. They will also have the ability to quickly adapt the vaccines in the event these viruses mutate and no longer respond to previous versions of the vaccine. 

A New Day in Healthcare

Technology in the field of healthcare will only continue to evolve. It’s an exciting time for those who work in patient care—be sure to keep up!

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