Healthcare is undergoing a transformation. As a nation, we’ve quickly progressed from Googling “how to get antibiotics online” to self-diagnosing on WebMD. The healthcare industry is quickly becoming an example of how tech and innovation are transforming industries that have historically been slow to innovate. This is a trend we will continue to see as the world of healthcare becomes increasingly connected with technology and one that will impact our entire lives.
While the industry has long been considered a slow adopter of new technology, it is now waking up to the potential of connected care. Indeed, as the world becomes more connected, we will face an unprecedented deluge of data that must be harnessed to improve patient outcomes and bring down costs.
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The world is waking up to the potential of connected care
The potential of connected care is being explored and realized. Connected care is a megatrend, the next wave of healthcare technology that will change everything from patient engagement to clinical information sharing.
Connected care involves using digital technologies such as the internet, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs in healthcare. This can take many forms, from connecting medical device data with patient records and using predictive analytics to identify potential health risks to using voice activation technology to provide information to healthcare providers quickly.
Connected care is not just about wearables or mobile apps:
- It’s about making smart devices and services more integrated into daily life for patients, caregivers, and frontline staff, enabling better coordination between providers so that people can get the right health professional at the right time;
- Empowering patients to take control over their health;
- Making it faster and easier for clinicians to share information in real time;
- Allowing organizations across sectors (such as employers) access to timely data on employees’ well-being so they can provide support when needed most – all while saving money through improved efficiency or preventing costs altogether (reducing unnecessary admissions).
The smart hospital and connected care offer tremendous potential for healthcare systems and patients. By connecting disparate data sources, reducing human error, automating processes, and providing better insights into patient health outcomes, the possibilities are endless. The ability to provide preventative care through predictive analytics is a significant focus area that could revolutionize how we treat and diagnose patients.
In addition, connected care could enable healthcare organizations to offer personalized treatment plans based on an individual’s unique health profile.
Finally, by connecting medical device data with patient records, healthcare providers can improve diagnostic accuracy and reduce the time needed to make a decision on patient care.
The three waves of healthcare technology
The first wave of healthcare technology was the introduction of computers in hospitals. This started in the early 1970s when doctors used mainframe systems programmed by programmers.
The second wave was mobile technology, which was introduced in the 1980s using pagers and portable fax machines. We saw the introduction of smartphones in the mid-2000s, but it wasn’t until 2010 that mobile devices became widely used in healthcare environments. Today mobile devices are essential for many doctors, nurses, and patients.
The third wave is the most disruptive because it integrates devices and apps to allow patients to monitor their health at home via connected care tools like wearables or personal health trackers (e.g., Fitbit). Thus, it’s not surprising that many healthcare organizations struggle to manage these technologies. The challenge is that each wave is based on different technological paradigms and requires a new way of thinking about how we use technology in health care.
When you combine these three waves with artificial intelligence (AI) to create intelligent systems that can respond instantly to a patient’s needs as well as analyze large amounts of data quickly, we will be able to deliver truly personalized medicine that takes advantage of each person’s genetic makeup and family history. A future where doctors don’t prescribe drugs based on symptoms but instead based on personalized medicine protocols explicitly customized for each patient’s DNA profile. And connected care will be at the heart of this future.
Healthcare will be faced with an unprecedented deluge of data
As you walk into your hospital’s lobby, you might notice that it is clean and well-lit. The floor is polished tile, and there are no visible signs of wear; the walls look freshly painted. If you have some time to kill before your appointment, there are plenty of places to sit or stand and enjoy the air conditioning. You could even use one of the self-serve kiosks in various spots around the floor (there are no human employees in sight). But when was the last time someone cleaned this particular lobby? And where did all these kiosks come from?
The answer is data. In connected care, healthcare providers increasingly rely on data to deliver quality patient care. The sheer volume of data generated by healthcare providers has increased exponentially over recent years as we gain more access to increasingly sophisticated technologies both inside our bodies and in society.
This data comes from many sources:
- Patient wearable devices like Fitbits or Apple Watches.
- Clinical sensors measuring blood pressure, heart rate variability, and other vital signs.
- Video clips taken during medical procedures.
- DNA sequencing machines used for research purposes and diagnostic tests conducted on previously sampled tissue samples or fluid samples collected via needle biopsies inserted into a patient’s body cavity during surgery.
- Electronic health records systems containing demographic details about patients, including their age range (i.e., young adults vs. elderly), gender identity (male vs. female), etc.
- Genomic sequencing information linked with clinical outcomes, such as whether certain medications were prescribed after diagnosis but never filled due to lack of insurance coverage.
This data deluge must be harnessed to provide meaningful insights that can inform care decisions. By taking advantage of predictive analytics and machine learning, healthcare providers can leverage this data to make proactive decisions about patient health and anticipate needs before they become problems. With the right tools, healthcare organizations can use data-driven insights to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs.
What the future holds for connected care and smart hospitals
The future of connected care and smart hospitals holds much promise for providers, patients, and caregivers.
The ability to integrate data from multiple sources—including electronic medical records, wearable devices like Fitbits or Apple Watches, and blood pressure monitors in a patient’s home—will create an environment where providers can monitor patients on an ongoing basis and make real-time decisions about when it’s best for them to receive care from a hospital or clinic.
Improved outcomes will be achieved through predictive analytics that allows healthcare teams to identify changes in clinical status before symptoms become apparent. This will lead to better management of chronic illnesses such as diabetes by enabling patients with early warning signs of complications.
For example, at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center in California, there are plans to introduce artificial intelligence into its computer systems, which will detect abnormal heart rhythms using data gathered from thousands of implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). The system is expected to improve patient safety and reduce unnecessary trips back to the hospital.
The healthcare revolution is only just beginning. As technology develops, we will continue to see a convergence of the physical and digital worlds and blurring of the lines between them. The future of healthcare is one in which there is no longer a distinction between patients and their providers; instead, it will be about treating people holistically — as whole individuals with unique needs and requirements.
In conclusion, we believe that the future of healthcare is connected care. Connected care can improve patient outcomes and reduce costs by eliminating unnecessary treatments and improving coordination between doctors and hospitals. It will also give patients and doctors access to vital information at all times, which should help them prevent emergencies before they happen. However, there are still challenges ahead for smart hospitals & connected care technology. For example, there may be some privacy concerns when storing sensitive medical data online. Still, as long as these concerns are addressed before implementation (and hopefully before any mistakes have been made), this new world could become a reality sooner than we think!