I am a big fan of the digital transformation in healthcare.
I think that it is one of the most important things going on in this time and age, and I have been following its progress with interest for some time. And now, finally, we are starting to see some really impressive results.
Healthcare has never been so powerful and affordable thanks to digital technologies.
It all started a few years ago with wearables.
Since then, they have become more and more sophisticated and now we can find them in every price range and for every need and desire: fitness trackers, smartwatches that can function as a music player, GPS device or gaming console; sports bands that monitor sleep and record the number of steps taken during your workout; blood pressure monitors that send alerts to your doctor when something is wrong; pulse oximeters that measure heart rate and oxygen levels in the blood.
Here are some of the great examples of digital transformation in our healthcare system.
Wearable technology that detects falls and sends alerts to caregivers
A couple of years ago, a company called Empatica introduced a smartwatch that can detect when a person suffers from a seizure. This is not just a feature - it's an extremely important one because the patient who is experiencing seizures may have no idea about them.
The watch also records data from other sensors for 24 hours to help physicians understand the wearer's state and sleep patterns, which might indicate epileptic events missed by the human eye. In addition, it detects where you are and how fast your heart is beating while recording motion patterns.
It then delivers this information to caregivers and doctors on their smartphones using Bluetooth technology.
Today we have a lot of similar devices that track various processes taking place in the human body and send alerts when needed.
In January 2018, Apple announced their new product - ECG app for Apple Watch. It will give users a detailed at-a-glance look at heart rhythms for 30 seconds after placing a finger on the device's electrodes, which are built into the digital crown and side button.
Telemedicine services for remote diagnosis of medical issues
Telemedicine is a technology that allows physicians to diagnose patients living in remote areas or who cannot travel because of health issues. It is great to see how much progress has been made with its implementation.
Telemedicine services are also helpful in remote consultations between doctors, allowing them to share important case information. This can also speed up the process of diagnosing rare diseases.
There are many telemedicine services that provide medical professionals with an opportunity to discuss complex cases and make a decision together about the course of treatment.
In 2016, a Swedish-Canadian company called Pocketalk introduced the world's first voice translator that allows doctors and patients to communicate directly in different languages.
Patients can easily discuss their conditions using this device, and no interpreter is needed. This reduces the tension between doctor and patient, which often happens when there is a language barrier.
Pocketalk Voice Translator translates common medical terms in real-time into the preferred language of the patient or doctor participating in the conversation. The service supports nine languages.
Another example of telemedicine is a service called 7 Cups of Tea, a platform for free online counseling. It has more than six million registered users who need advice on support for mental health problems, stress management, and many other issues.
This global online platform allows people to get in touch with a trained listener from around the world from the emotional comfort of their own homes.
patient-generated health records that are stored in the cloud
Today we can find a lot of digital services that allow patients to monitor and control their health.
For instance, apps such as MyFitnessPal help you track your caloric intake and fitness level while giving useful insights on how to get fitter or healthier. Others will send you customized exercise plans based on the data you provide about yourself over time.
For example, Apple's HealthKit is an app for Apple devices that provides users with a centralized view of health and fitness data tracked over time on their iPhones or iPods. It allows the data to be shared among different apps so you can see how various factors influence your overall health.
Other apps, including Fitbit, monitor your daily movements, heart rate, and sleep patterns to provide information about your overall health.
With patient-generated health records, patients can control their medical data. They can access it anywhere anytime using their smartphones or computers. This is an extremely important factor for people living in remote areas with no easy access to hospitals or doctors.
Electronic medical record systems with automated reminders for follow up care
Automated reminder systems and electronic health records (EHRs) can improve care and save lives.
GSK, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, decided to use automation to help people remember their medications and follow doctors' prescriptions correctly. GSK's Clever Caregiver program reminds patients about taking medicine on time and tracks their symptoms via wearables.
It can detect early symptoms of an issue and send notifications to doctors who will analyze the symptoms and determine if there is a risk for certain diseases based on collected data, such as hypertension or diabetes. Then, they will prescribe necessary medications to prevent potential health issues.
A huge benefit of using automated reminders is that they help people to take the proper amount of medicine at the right time.
Using old-fashioned appointment books or checklists, patients often forget to take necessary medications and visit doctors at the proper time. There is a chance for some medications to undergo mutations in the body and become ineffective if not taken on schedule.
The new medical devices are bringing the idea of home care to life by advancing patient empowerment through making medical information more accessible, convenient, and secure.
Mobile applications that allow patients to track their health data
There are hundreds of health and medical apps on the market today.
One example is Pixie, which allows users to monitor and control asthma symptoms in real-time using a sensor bracelet and an app. The user's inhaler will vibrate when it is time for them to take their medication, so they don't have to keep track of their schedule.
Another example is the mRhythm app, which uses a smartwatch to monitor abnormal heart rhythms and sends notifications to physicians when necessary. It is designed for people who need constant monitoring due to an existing heart condition (e.g., atrial fibrillation).
The biggest benefit of these devices is that they help people monitor their own health and wellbeing 24/7. They also help doctors track patients' symptoms, disease progression, and improve healthcare facilities all around the world.
Nowadays, most doctors have apps on their smartphones with patient records and information about medicine dosage. This allows them to prescribe medicine immediately if necessary. However, it is an extra responsibility for patients who have to constantly monitor their health records.
It's never been easier to monitor your health and wellbeing.
With the help of apps, wearable devices, and electronic medical records (EMRs), patients can take control over their own healthcare data - all from a smartphone or computer.
These new technologies are transforming how we think about patient care by making it more accessible and convenient for people living in remote areas with no easy access to hospitals or doctors.
Not a Medium member yet? Please use this link to become a member because, at no extra cost for you, I earn a small commission for referring you.