Technology is transforming many aspects of the healthcare industry, and the patient care experience is an important facet of the healthcare ecosystem. With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) and adoption of health-focused wearables, patient care technology has become increasingly complex while at the same time allowing for greater efficiency. As IoT adoption has grown exponentially across the consumer and business landscape, these new technological solutions are being adapted to help those seeking better medical care take a proactive role in their health and overall well-being. These new devices are making healthcare more efficient while enabling an improved patient experience.
Wearable devices have seen an incredible adoption rate with consumers. Patients may already be tracking their own progress with wearable devices or could be provided a wearable or handheld device to keep an accurate account of their progress or symptoms. Handhelds may also be helpful throughout the healthcare journey: at the front desk to complete check in, inside exam rooms to collect additional data and allow for patient feedback, and in hospitals to enable patients to communicate directly with hospital or facility staff. This type of technology could even be deployed in hospice or in home for aftercare or elder care through a carnegies. Being able to collect data in this manner makes healthcare more efficient and enables actionable data.
Aging Population Demands New Healthcare Technology
With the increasing number of patients spurred by an aging population, many expect more inefficiency with current record-keeping systems. The United States is seeing a gray wave of baby boomers, individuals born between 1946 and 1964, who are taxing a healthcare system seemingly unprepared for the increasing volume. The care for this older generation has presented new challenges across all segments of the healthcare ecosystem, demanding unforeseen levels of care and expectations by both patient and their care providers.
The entire healthcare system has sought easy-to-use technological solutions to provide care for this influx of older consumers. The adoption of consumer healthcare technology will become second nature to young and old alike as technology becomes more advanced and user friendly. Healthcare providers will finally be able to harness intelligent healthcare to benefit the patient care experience and their bottom lines.
A challenge within the industry is when several healthcare providers, doctors, and healthcare facilities are treating a single patient without sharing any information between their offices. The patient can’t always be counted on to keep track of and share the correct data about his or her history, care, or even most recent visits. Sharing a patient’s electronic health records (Ehr), which may include vital status, past diagnostic results, and history with many health offices has proven to be one of the industry’s greater tests. With the growth of the aging population, these older patients have increased the number of doctors and healthcare services they use, which is often not by choice, but rather is dictated by their insurance providers.
Technological solutions like wearables or handheld devices may help to eliminate the chance of error on the patients’ end and make it possible to access and track patient records and visits with greater accuracy. Additionally, these devices have the ability to collect and provide a patient’s accurate real-time data, which may help to encourage preventative healthcare and help to better manage care of current diagnoses.
By making patient data available to healthcare services ahead of visits and offering the capability for providers to effortlessly share patient health records, many expect the time spent in offices both filling out paperwork and performing routine tests to be greatly lessened. By creating greater efficiencies with a shared database of patient history information, doctors will be able to spend less time either hunting down or questioning the patient for this vital information and be able to spend more productive time with patients focused on resolutions and care.
Wearable and handheld solutions optimized with telehealth may be the perfect fit for care facilities such as hospice, retirement communities with specialized care wings, and in-home providers. Through the use of telehealth, these types of service providers could provide more comprehensive in-place care for their patients. Telehealth solutions may reduce the need for office visits and provide a superior experience for the patient and doctors. Providing outpatient resources like digital healthcare tablets, terminals, and wearable devices can empower patients and care-givers by guiding the administration of in-home care through instructional videos such as steps on taking a specific vital or even the best way to change a bandage.
With the addition of a wearable device, routine testing like the recording of vital signs is automatically accessible to applicable healthcare providers. As the technological solutions adapt to the elderly population and evolve to support healthcare systems, it isn’t hard to see why the greatest changes to the healthcare industry will be driven by technology and patient adoption.
Easing the Healthcare Burden
Advantech, for example, has developed new intelligent healthcare and telehealth solutions to answer the healthcare industry’s technological need. The company’s handheld infotainment terminals and tablets are designed for value-based healthcare models looking to create cost-saving efficiencies through technology innovations for superior patient care. The rewards providers may see include positive outcomes instead of volume of visits or tests performed. The terminals allow providers to easily collect a patient’s health records and share and review data regarding a patient’s history and treatment.
Multiple specialists would be able to share one common patient history and patient treatment plan across different offices. Because they provide for real-time data access and delivery, doctors can review and update medical records on personal mobile devices, while nurse station terminal are used to manage patient requests, status updates, and ward messages. Emergency call alerts are presented on the terminal dashboard. Alternatively, patients could have their own dedicated terminal to record and update their vitals and ultimately stay connected with their service providers. Unlike the days when these devices were fragile and designed only for trained technicians, terminals today are incredibly ruggedized, boasting water resistance and ability to withstand a drop of up to six feet. Dual isolated Ethernet ports enable separate Internet and intranet traffic to ensure data security.
The population is aging, presenting new challenges and placing an increasing demand for levels of care by both patient and their care providers. The good news is that patients of all ages are embracing the advent of new technologies. The adoption of technological healthcare innovations like wearables and handheld terminals answer some of the healthcare system’s longest looming challenges. The utilization of these technological solutions continues to enable a new era of intelligent healthcare. Terminals like Advantech’s are paving the way for a smarter, more connected healthcare experience.
This article was written by Sean Wu, iHealthcare Product Manager at Advantech, Irvine, CA. For more information, Click Here.