Several technical innovations that sounded like science fiction a decade ago have now made their way into the healthcare industry. Besides saving lives and improving the quality of life, technological developments have reduced medical costs, made healthcare accessible in rural areas, and completely changed the research, innovation, and education processes.
Advances in healthcare technology such as the use of telehealth, electronic medical records, hospital-to-home care, drone technology, genome sequencing, digital tools and artificial intelligence (AI) are transforming healthcare right before our eyes.
These technologies are being used by health technology entrepreneurs to bring the future into the present and help millions of people. The convergence of these multiple technologies exponentially multiplying impact is a huge game changer in healthcare. Let’s take a look at a few prominent technology trends that will shape the future of healthcare:
Telehealth and electronic medical records:
Telehealth and electronic medical records are the next steps in the evolution of healthcare.
Telehealth is a game-changing approach to communication and access to care for patients and healthcare professionals. Telehealth will continue to expand beyond episodic care, into chronic disease management and specialty care, including mental health services. This provides patients with better access and convenience to care. In this regard, the Union Budget 2022 has announced a National Mental Health Telehealth Programme.
Additionally, all patient histories, test results, diagnoses, and pertinent information can be centrally recorded in an online location using electronic medical records. The data allows for more targeted and accurate care, as well as the ability to see individual health trends.
Transition from hospital care to home care:
The most significant paradigm shift will be the transition from primarily hospital care to home care. This will be facilitated by innovative tools such as non-invasive sensors embedded in living spaces to monitor daily activities; ultra-wideband radar technology to detect falls, among other things; and hand-held devices that allow doctors to remotely monitor EKGs, pulse oximetry and infrared skin temperature, among other things. In such a case, hospitals can be used primarily for operations and as a command center for monitoring the health of patients.
The pandemic has highlighted the need for real-time, error-free data, as well as the need for a healthcare system that is technologically capable of providing data without delay. Technology plays an important role not only in collecting data but also in organizing and analyzing data. In today’s uncertain and chaotic healthcare environment, digital tools can help access and analyze data and make critical predictions. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, RPA, big data analytics, blockchain technology, robotics, automation, cloud computing and quantum computing can transform the Indian healthcare system and make it world class if implemented intelligently.
It can help get useful information for real-time decision-making without putting pressure on the healthcare ecosystem. Scaling these technologies and developing an ecosystem approach to harnessing the potential of data as a society will be critical.
Implementation of drone technology:
The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones in the healthcare industry will lead to faster sample collection, easier access in rural areas and delivery of healthcare in Tier 2/Tier 3/Tier 4 cities.
Drones help improve access to high-quality healthcare by providing safe and timely transportation of medical supplies and test samples in a cost-effective and timely manner. Drones are effective in overcoming connectivity challenges as they can easily reach isolated locations such as Tier 2/Tier 3/Tier 4 towns and cities and transport life-saving medicines, emergency supplies, medicine and other items. Areas that were previously cut off from roads and inaccessible to large helicopters and planes are now accessible, improving the country’s transport network and strengthening the healthcare scenario.
For example, blood samples are placed in a temperature-sensitive storage box attached to the drone and sent to a predetermined laboratory for sample testing. By transporting samples via drones, healthcare providers can gain rapid access to laboratory tests needed for diagnosis and treatment. Drone technology is cost-effective and, most importantly, not subject to traffic delays.
Easy access to advanced genome sequencing systems such as the NovaSeq 6000 will prove very useful, as there is currently no government-enforced mass screening protocol for genetic diseases. The NovaSeq 6000 technology offers high throughput and flexibility to conduct research or tests that need to process massive amounts of data in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.
Certain geographic locations in the country, such as North India in particular, are known to have very high levels of genetic disorders and intermarriage, which increases the likelihood of rare diseases in the fetus. As the system is now available, it will help reduce testing time and help save costs for patients in neighboring regions and countries.
The views expressed above are the author’s own.
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