“Healthcare technology” is an umbrella term that refers to information technology (IT) tools, including software, that help to boost efficiency in hospitals and other healthcare facilities to enhance the quality of services provided. Well designed healthcare technology solutions can help to cut costs, and a key goal of them is to personalize the patient experience. Other names for healthcare technology include “healthtech” and “tech-infused care.”
Because of increasing shortages in healthcare staff, they’re more important now than ever.
Healthcare Worker Shortages
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), by 2030, there will be a shortage of an estimated ten million healthcare workers. Although this will likely affect low and lower-middle income countries the most, the problem is global, including in the United States.
Keck School of Medicine of USC notes these factors as causes of these alarming staffing shortages:
- Aging population: In 2021, 16.8 percent of the population was at least sixty-five years old; by 2030, they predict it will be twenty-one percent. This demographic is more likely to have chronic diseases, including heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes and need care for dementia. Plus, they’re more likely to experience hospital stays. So, having less staff is occuring when more staff is needed.
- Burnout: According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, in 2019, just under thirty-two percent of doctors reported burnout. In 2022, the figure was forty percent. In 2019, almost forty-one percent of nurses reported burnout; just three years later, the number was above forty-nine percent. Burnout, unfortunately, can lead to medical errors among other problems—and can even lead to people leaving the professional altogether.
- Lack of nursing faculty: In 2019-2020 alone, nursing colleges turned away nearly 81,000 applicants because there weren’t enough instructors. Why? In part, faculty pay isn’t typically high enough to attract professors with necessary qualifications. Without enough nursing students, there aren’t enough graduating nurses to meet healthcare facility demand.
Healthcare technology solutions, then, are growing in importance as they can help to take the burden off of a strained system, providing quality assistance to medical professionals. The doctors, nurses, and other professionals can, in turn, offer quality patient care.
Types of Healthcare Technology Solutions
Here are just five types of healthcare technology solutions that are assisting today’s dedicated medical professionals.
As the Vanderbilt School of Engineering discusses, robot-assisted surgeries (RAS) enhance a surgeon’s ability to work with precision; RAS have been shown to “cause less damage to the body, less pain, shorter hospital stays, faster recovery times, and less risk of complications.” Some of the technology is guided by the surgeon while others operate semi-autonomously.
Artificial intelligence (AI) allows surgeons to use the best of today’s technology—and improvements continue to unfold. Benefits of AI robots include how they’re resistant to both fatigue and tremors in scalable ways. Couple surgical robots with AI algorithms and, in the future, errors and operative times alike can be further reduced with the surgeon able to reach hard to access parts of the body. Overall, the robot-algorithm tandem will reduce or even remove the human error factor.
Prescription Drug Research
Supercomputers, in tandem with AI, excel in managing tasks with massive amounts of data. Therefore, PharmaceuticalTechnology.com shares, this can be ideal in the “exhaustive process of drug discovery and design.” Multiple collaborations are currently in progress to leverage the power of big data—genetic and clinical—to fuel more rapid drug and vaccine discoveries. One of Japan’s healthcare technology solutions of this sort has already found valuable information about what drugs may be repurposed to address COVID-19.
Closely related is gene editing in which DNA material is inserted, deleted, modified, or replaced to uncover new ways to treat genetic disorders and inherited diseases, identifying them at their very source.
Although AI algorithms are already used in diagnostics, HealthTech Magazine calls its usage “frankly underused.” Why? Because, all too often, the AI models involved are siloed. Fortunately, workflows are evolving to better incorporate diagnostics alongside other clinical information, which amplifies medical professionals’ ability to provide quality diagnostics—a crucial part of comprehensive patient care.
One example of where this is helping to diagnose earlier and more effectively: lung cancer screenings. Because chronic lung conditions are still being under-diagnosed as are cancer diagnoses, these healthcare technology solutions are contributing to better quality of life for patients and improved outcomes.
In the cases of late-stage or otherwise severe emphysema, AI models are assisting with identifying patients who could benefit from a new treatment and then helping the medical professionals with targeting parts of the lung for optimal treatments. The same technology can then perform follow-up scans to monitor recovery. Similar advances are being made with neurological disorders and in patients who have experienced strokes.
These healthcare technology solutions can lighten the workload for busy radiologists; for the healthcare facilities, this can streamline screenings, which can have a positive impact on their finances.
Mental Health Assistance
Sometimes, healthcare technology solutions are quite simple. For example, mental health apps and other technologies, the National Institute of Mental Health shares, come with many benefits for the people needing care and can also streamline the processes for medical professionals. These benefits include:
- Convenience: Professionals can provide and people can receive treatment anywhere at any time, which opens the caregiving opportunities up for people who struggle to get to appointments in person.
- Privacy: Because people can receive treatment at home or wherever else they are, they can enjoy privacy that’s not afforded when the person can be seen in a busy waiting room.
- More seamless entry to care: If someone is reluctant to reach out for mental health care, this can be a good entry point.
- Lower costs: This can be more cost effective than in-person care.
- Broader outreach: Mental health professionals can provide treatment to people in more remote locations and, as needed, to large groups of people after a traumatic happening occurs.
- Encourages participation: Because mental health care is more accessible, it can engage more people.
- Around the clock availability: Whether a patient would benefit from monitoring or the ability to get support during off hours, healthcare technology solutions can help.
- Consistency: Patients can receive consistent treatment programs.
- Technological support: Apps can extend traditional mental health therapies to help reinforce skills learned and otherwise provide monitoring and support.
- Data collection: Technology can help medical professionals to glean information that can assist in treatments: locations, movement, and more.
Patient Education Technology
RN Journal provides an excellent overview of what patient education technology is: “Patient education is a structured, individualized and methodical process that evaluates and conveys knowledge to patients and their families that will alter their health behaviors in order to improve their health status. Its main purpose is to maintain or to augment patient health or, in some cases, to slow deterioration. Patient education is a vital component for the healthcare professionals that can facilitate clinician-patient communication, promote shared decision making based on medical evidence, assist in clinical recommendations, and engage patient cooperation in their medical treatment. Research studies showed that patients that are involved in their health decisions are more likely to cooperate and understand their disease process.”
This type of healthcare technology solution comes with numerous benefits that, in combination, helps to improve the patient experience and, by extension, their health outcomes. As patients better understand their diagnoses and recommended treatments, they can undertake actions that will help them in their health journey.
Having this understanding may help to reduce pain levels for people with chronic conditions along with feelings of anxiety. At the same time, it can boost their feelings of confidence, empowering them to do what’s needed to obtain optimal health and stick to their treatment plans.
Plus, patient education technologies can provide targeted information to patients without the presence of the physician—and then, when the doctor and patient discuss relevant health issues, the patient is more informed and confident. So, this can create an environment for more productive conversations between the two while increasing levels of trust.
All of this can be accomplished in much more efficient, consistent, and cost effective ways, providing a significant benefit to healthcare organizations. This can also deepen patient loyalty and reduce patient calls, visits, and admissions. So, this healthcare technology solution is a key way to attract, engage, and satisfy patients through efficient, user-friendly, quality software.
Journey PX: Interactive Patient Education Software
With this powerful solution, hospital staff can provide exactly the right educational material to patients before prescribing treatment, delivering it in hospital settings through in-room televisions or at a patient’s home through email or text. This includes pre- and post-operative materials as well as modules on disease, wellness, and safety. Material is available in multiple languages at the fifth-grade level or below, being designed for all types of learners.
Schedule a Journey PX demo—the healthcare technology solution that will take your hospital’s patient experience to the next level. Questions? Contact us online or call 800-359-6741 to discuss this world class patient education software.