How Technology is Improving Patient Care
illustration depicting medical technology and 3d printing

The medical community is embracing technology more than ever. The PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute touts that 2017 has been a year of innovation in the healthcare industry because of newly developed technologies that can change the way we see patient care.

Technological Advancements Keep Doctors Informed

Gone are the days where healthcare professionals had to rely on paper charts that can easily be mixed up. More and more hospitals (nearly 90%) are using electronic health records (EHRs) to improve patient care.

By using EHRs, physicians will have complete medical histories for their patients, thus allowing them to make well-informed treatment plans that best suit the patient’s individual needs.

Not only will a physician be able to make quick decisions, but they’ll also be able to access a patient’s chart remotely, be alerted to critical lab results, alerted to a potential medication error and so much more.

EHRs aren’t the only form of innovation making its way into healthcare. Various departments within a hospital are using barcoding or RFID tags to help prevent medication errors and improve patient safety.

The scanning of barcodes can help prevent medication errors, as the healthcare provider must scan both the medication and the patient before administering. Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare report that “at its most basic level, barcode-assisted prevention of medication administration errors is predicated on verifying the “5 rights”; the right patient, right drug, right dose, right route, and right time.”

RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology work to save the hospital time and money by providing real-time tracking, identification, communication, temperature, and even location data on any given person or resource.

This system is capable of providing information that will help to ensure the right patient receives the correct medication, healthcare providers can locate a patient quickly, and minimize errors while improving clinical workflow according to this study.

Healthcare Providers Show Reluctance in Using Technology

Although technology is being embraced by the healthcare industry, there remains some pushback. Some healthcare organizations are reluctant to make these changes because any changes in technology could affect the lives of their patients – especially if one small error is made, it could lead to disastrous results.

On top of that, these new technologies aren’t cheap, so hospitals who already have difficulty finding funding will not be quick to make the heavy investment to switch over to these new systems.

Then there is the problem with the lack of interest from physicians in using the new technology (some view it as being too impersonal, while others feel the technology is too time-consuming and it’s just easier to enter and maintain information by hand).

But, it isn’t just hospitals or healthcare providers who are leery of the new tech. In a 2016 survey, 57% of patients are skeptical of the security of the technology.

These patients are concerned of lack of privacy protection and the chance of their personal information being hacked by an outside source.

New Technology Is Making Positive Changes In Healthcare

With all that aside, technology is slowly proving how much of a positive impact it can make on the healthcare industry. 3D printing can be used for custom dental work or hearing aids.

Virtual reality can be used to help a patient with PTSD or ease their anxiety pre- or post-surgery.  Augmented reality can be used to influence fitness and health wellness apps or help guide the surgical team.

There are so many ways that technology can help improve the medical field. It will take some time before these technologies (and more) will catch on, but there’s no denying that patient care is taking strides in the right direction.

After all, providing great healthcare is something all medical professionals are aiming for – so why not embrace the technology that can help?


By Sarah Daren

References:

Bradley University Online Master of Science in Nursing

Health IT

National Library of Medicine

Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare Report

Regis College Online Nursing Program

Written by Guest Author
The Caregiver Space accepts contributions from experts for The Caregiver's Toolbox and provides a platform for all caregivers in Caregiver Stories. Please read our author guidelines for more information and use our contact form to submit guest articles.

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