Can you identify a part of your day that doesn’t involve technology? Maybe it’s the lane detectors in your car that guide you as you head to work, or the Apple Watch you wear to enhance your workout. Technology has improved the quality of all of our lives in some way, and advances continue to happen constantly.
But what about devices for making you healthier? Or even saving your life? Thankfully, the ideas are flowing in this growing arena – where medicine and technology intersect.
Here’s a quick look at some of the ways healthcare is making innovative strides that can impact you and your loved ones, and potentially save your lives:
How many times have you left the doctor’s office with a piece of paper with something scribbled on it that you (and the pharmacist) likely don’t understand? Gone are those days: enter electronic health records (EHRs). EHRs enable the efficient collection, storage and sharing of information, which means easier access and better coordinated care for you. There is also greater accuracy on the physician’s end with required data fields and use of standard terminology – meaning no more hard-to-read physician notes. Did you know that 98% of hospitals have now adopted EHRs? Expect to encounter EHRs on your next visit to the doctor.
Text messages and video appointments with doctors have become the new standard – but telehealth is expanding far beyond what we’re familiar with now. One extension? A wireless pill bottle that will actually remind you to take your medication, proven to increase adherence by 68%. For now, you can keep an eye out for apps that easily connect you and your doctor, many of which feature chat bots and instant access to various types of care.
Nowadays, we see breakthroughs for wearable medical technology almost every day. Beyond the typical functionality of devices like the Apple Watch or a Fitbit that can detect heart rates and exercise, new life-saving devices are expanding the wearables market. For example, diabetics can now wear a watch-like device with a microneedle for painless and accurate monitoring of glucose levels. Other technological advances have allowed for devices that can monitor anything from your sleep patterns to your heart rate to your skin temperature and more; syncing with your phone, and sharing pertinent data with your doctor. Look out for wearables that serve a greater purpose than just being a fashion choice; ones that can improve your health and quality of life.
How many times have you asked your Amazon Alexa or your Google Home to identify what illness you’re facing based on your symptoms? While we are already familiar with these technologies, they are expanding much further. Using algorithms and data, artificial intelligence bots can now answer your questions, say about a common cold, make an appointment if necessary or even connect you with a live clinician. Beyond that, there are virtual reality games that can help diagnose diseases. For example, a game called Sea Hero Quest VR, actually helps neuroscientists diagnose and treat dementia in new ways. When you visit the doctor, you may encounter similar devices and technology that can help you or a loved one.
While technology is changing our lives for the better, we must be wary as consumers of how our data is being shared. One change you can make now is to enable multifactor authentication on your devices and accounts to verify and protect your identity. As a consumer, you should be inquisitive and gain an understanding of the technology in your hands.
Sources: beckershospitalreview.com; rasmussen.edu; medicaldesignandoutsourcing.com; liaison.com