Health is the greatest gift that any of us can possess. Sometimes our appreciation of this gift leaves much to be desired – frequently we take it for granted until it starts to decline, is compromised, or is taken away.
Perhaps post-COVID, we have a greater appreciation of the value of health. We certainly have a greater appreciation of our healthcare workers at a time of unprecedented strain as COVID-19 added to existing pressures of under-staffing, long wait times and beds in short supply.
Technology to the rescue
Well it certainly can’t relieve all the pressures the healthcare industry in this country currently faces, but it can be harnessed to optimise the resources that we do have at our disposal. And with a focus on patient-centred care – giving patients access to their own data, a say in their own treatment, and a focus on the care in the community – it’s certainly moving things in the right direction.
Advances in digital healthcare use the latest technology such as artificial intelligence, VR/AR, 3D printing and robotics. The challenge is to ensure that we bring healthcare workers on board with the latest technologies in order to stay relevant and work smarter.
Artificial Intelligence has had a bad press, centred around the fear of robots taking human jobs. But the truth is that – used properly – it can transform healthcare. AI can be used to create drugs, mine medical records, and design treatment plans at apace that we simply can’t match. Here’s an incontrovertible example: recently, using AI, Google’s Deep Mind created an algorithm for breast cancer analysis that outperformed all human radiologists to identify breast cancer by over ten per cent.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality(AR) both also open up new capabilities for healthcare workers, patients and students . Virtual reality can be used for training surgeons and for practising surgery remotely, enabling surgeons to operate at a distance by controlling a haptic glove on a medic present. It’s also useful in pain relief – recent studies show effective pain relief for women in labour when they use VR headsets. Staying firmly rooted in the real world, augmented reality puts information in front of our eyes at speed. It can feasibly be used to help medical students prepare for operating, by studying procedures performed on virtual rather than actual humans.
Wearable healthcare tracking
Wearable health tracking devices are not new, but as they become even more sophisticated they can help support the new focus towards patient-centred care. Patients can monitor their health at home and share results remotely with healthcare workers. This frees up healthcare resources to triage properly, prioritise care in the community, and make the right decisions about more hands on care or hospital admittance. And people are empowered to take control of their own health, make healthier choices and more informed decisions.
Back to those robots taking over our jobs. Robotics are not about dehumanising healthcare – rather their use can emphatically enhance healthcare provision by improving quality, safety and access. Clearly COVID-19 showed exactly how the use of robots themselves could be advantageous when contact with other humans resulted in unbridled increase in infection. It’s likely current robotic innovation in healthcare is focusing to some degree on creating robots that can manage the front line of infection better than humans – for example taking temperatures and wiping surfaces to shield human staff. If the next pandemic is just around the corner, robots will help us be better prepared.
In healthcare, the wonders of 3D printing come into their own. The printing of artificial limbs, pills and blood vessels is happening now. Living skin along with blood vessels has also been created which has huge implications for the treatment of burns victims for example. Patient-specific replicas of bones and organs can speed up life-changing operations, reduce costs and lower lead healthcare times generally.
The future is bright
It really is an unprecedented time for the future of healthcare. All of these emerging technologies can be harnessed to support innovation in healthcare, innovation which hasn’t even been conceived of yet. And all of these technologies and devices add to a huge increase in the volume of data, data which has to be logged, managed and not least protected. Client data requires contractual protection to ensure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands – rather it needs to be used to maximise knowledge and generate innovative new capabilities.
Contract management software for healthcare
So along with other industries, healthcare is also seeing an explosion in the use of contracts, adding further to potential workload. Automation in the form of dedicated software can help – contract management software can take the strain from tedious, manual processes. Contract Insight is Four Business Solution’s healthcare contract management software of choice.
Investment in the right software can propel you on your path towards the future of healthcare. We’d love to tell you more about it – why not get in touch and we can set up a demo of our healthcare contract management software?