Healthcare is a diverse field encompassing a multitude of specializations. Held in common by healthcare providers of all categories is the end goal of improving patient outcomes and the practice of medicine. For this reason, the healthcare field has historically moved swiftly to incorporate the latest technologies into the model of care. Should you choose to earn a degree in healthcare, it will position you to apply the latest developments for patient care. Following are four technologies that have revolutionized the healthcare field.
Recent events have thrust telemedicine into the spotlight as never before. Thanks to telemedicine, healthcare providers can communicate with patients digitally regardless of geographic distance. The versatility of telemedicine has enabled healthcare professionals to continue to provide services in circumstances that would once have been prohibitive.
With digital platforms designed to comply with patient privacy laws, providers can hold confidential videoconferences with patients. This ability is significant because many patients do not live near a clinic and might not otherwise seek medical help for critical symptoms. A telehealth visit can often replace a visit to an urgent care center. Not only do telehealth visits reduce unnecessary exposure to other sick patients — they may also reduce healthcare costs for both patients and organizations.
Telemedicine also allows easy access to medical monitoring for patients whose physical limitations interfere with leaving home to visit a clinic. For example, a bumpy car ride can be extremely uncomfortable and even damaging during recovery from some surgeries, such as appendectomies. In short, telemedicine is coming into wide use for delivering patient-friendly healthcare services.
2. Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
Before electronic health records became the standard for healthcare management, you may remember shelves at the doctor’s office filled with rows upon rows of file folders containing patient health information. One of the problems with this paper-based system was that the information was not readily shareable with healthcare providers who practiced in other facilities. Another problem was that it was cumbersome and difficult to update in real time, which meant that a nurse might not have access to the most up-to-date information on a hospitalized patient.
Fortunately, healthcare providers now use electronic health records to keep track of important medical information. Electronic health records allow healthcare providers to view a patient’s information instantly at any point of care, regardless of location. Patients benefit from this collaborative, well-coordinated model of care, which:
- Reduces medical errors
- Supports accurate diagnoses
- Allows for safer prescribing
- Enhances patient information security and privacy
- Reduces healthcare costs
3. Robot-Assisted Surgery Platforms
Telemedicine and electronic health records make easier access to care possible and improve the quality of that care. However, there are also healthcare technologies that directly administer care. Hospitals across the country currently use robot-assisted surgery platforms. These platforms, often referred to as robotic surgery, reduce human error during operations. They also allow patients to benefit from minimally invasive techniques, even in situations that might otherwise call for an open incision.
In robotic surgery, no decisions are made by a robot. A human surgeon is still fully in control. The surgeon has been specially trained to use the robotic equipment and remains at the control console to direct the machine’s movements and actions. The robotic arm performs the necessary movements, such as making an incision and inserting a laparoscopic camera. Because the robotic arm is performing the surgery, the movements are very precise. The robotic arm is capable of deft movements beyond the abilities of a human hand.
4. Virtual Reality in Medical Education
Virtual reality (VR) is an emerging technology that is often mistakenly associated only with entertainment. In fact, however, VR has exciting potential applications in medicine. While it is not yet in widespread use, some medical schools and residency programs are incorporating VR technology into their training curricula. VR enables new and aspiring doctors to experience real-life medical situations without incurring any of the risks to patients that come with real-life medical mistakes.
A resident may go through an emergency-room simulation of a toddler in the midst of a life-threatening allergic reaction. VR technology is programmed to respond to the resident’s medical decisions in realistic ways. If the resident makes careful, evidence-based decisions, the digital patient “recovers.” The opportunity to practice real-life scenarios without risk gives medical students a safe way to practice remaining calm and thinking clearly in highly stressful situations.
Like VR, augmented reality (AR) is finding a place in medical education. AR is not an immersive experience like VR. Rather, it enhances the real world with overlays of simulated images. For example, instructors can use AR to teach students to interpret ultrasound images. The AR platform takes a real ultrasound image and superimposes images of tissues, bones, muscles, nerves and blood vessels. This enables students to develop a better understanding of the images they are studying.
If you have a passion for innovative healthcare, you can find the right healthcare degree program for you at Grand Canyon University. Undergraduate students can enroll in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program. Aspiring graduate-level students may be interested in the Master of Science in Health Informatics program. To learn more about the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions, click on the Request Info button on this page.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.