We live in an era where technology is fast becoming embedded in our society, impacting nearly every aspect of your lives – and healthcare makes no exception. Although the healthcare industry has been lagging behind in implementing new technologies, especially in the public sector, the rate of tech adoption has increased significantly in recent years. Many people these days use a variety of tech tools and innovations to improve their health and well-being. On the other end, medical practitioners and providers are also taking advantage of these developments to deliver better health services and ensure a smoother health journey for their patients.
All this has led to the emergence of eHealth – a new subsector in the healthcare industry that combines communication and information technologies and digital innovations with health practices in order to enhance healthcare quality and efficiency. Simply put, eHealth brings the worlds of technology and healthcare together, providing benefits for all parties involved. However, technology is an umbrella term that covers an extremely extensive range of devices and scientific applications, so to say that tech is influencing and transforming healthcare can be rather ambiguous. So, we need to get specific about it and explain precisely what types of technology are having the biggest impact in the healthcare field.
In the early years of the internet, there wasn’t much variety in terms of websites, and the ones that existed were pretty basic. Fast forward a few decades, and the internet is now populated with over 1 billion sites – although many of them are inactive – that address all industries, sectors, and topics one can imagine. As you can assume, many of these sites also provide health and medical information or serve as a point of contact between patients and providers.
Studies show that the number of people who turn to the internet for health information has increased considerably in recent times. Younger generations who are more aware of health-related matters are especially interested in taking charge of their healthcare journey, and the world wide web provides fast and easy access to the knowledge they require.
The internet gives everyone the possibility to search for different types of medical providers or get educated on a wide variety of healthcare topics, from health issues and their symptoms to alternative treatments for common ailments or making a medical negligence claim against the NHS – which you can learn more about at https://www.how-to-sue.co.uk/medical-negligence-claims/how-to-sue-the-nhs. No matter your health concern, there’s surely at least one site, blog, article, or forum that can support your research.
The widespread use of mobile technology has led to the emergence of apps. These days, people are much more inclined to use their smartphones instead of their desktops to navigate the internet, as they provide greater convenience. And although most sites have been optimised for mobile use, it’s apps that garner most of the attention. The app market has been dominating the mobile industry for the past decade and continues to grow at a rapid pace.
Recent research shows that most mobile users have over 80 apps installed on their phones, and they use, on average, 9 apps per day and 30 apps every month. So, it’s no surprise that healthcare apps have also become extremely popular nowadays. Certain health apps make it easier for people to stay on top of their health condition, allowing them to monitor different parameters in real time. Others teach users how to improve different aspects of their life and support them in creating a healthier lifestyle. Finally, there are also apps specifically designed to assist healthcare professionals in their daily practice and ensure better health outcomes.
Guess what’s even more convenient and practical than using smartphone apps to help you stay fit and healthy and track your health journey? That’s right, wearables. Wearable technology in healthcare refers to a variety of devices that are worn close to the body and provide users with data about their personal health and fitness. This allows people to monitor and manage physical activity or different health issues with ease. One can monitor sleep, movement, heart rate, or blood pressure, among other bio functions, which makes these gadgets ideal for those who want to gain more insight into their health condition.
While certain health wearables are designed for in-clinic use only, the market for consumer wearables is fast expanding, with devices like smartwatches or Fitbits gaining a lot of popularity recently. This gives people the possibility to learn a lot more about their health on their own and make better health-related decisions.
Most people are familiar with virtual reality (VR) from gaming, but its use cases go well beyond the entertainment industry. It appears that VR technology has also made its way into the medical field, where it has multiple applications. For starters, VR can enhance communication with patients as it helps medical practitioners explain and provide details about their condition and treatment options using advanced visuals like hyper-realistic CGI and virtual models.
Medical training is another area where VR can be extremely helpful. Students get the chance to visualise and explore the human body in great detail and simulate medical procedures without putting patients at risk. Finally, VR can also be used for mental and physical therapies. VR immersion can help patients in numerous ways, from overcoming their fears to reducing pain or speeding up recovery time.
Video Conferencing software
Many patients struggle with mobility issues which makes it impossible for them to travel to a hospital and have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor. In other situations, patients may live in remote areas and might have to travel long distances to receive medical care. Both issues can be at least partially addressed by employing video conferencing software.
Healthcare professionals can make use of video conferencing tools to provide support and care for patients that are unable to come to the hospital in person or those who require constant monitoring.
As you can see, technology has brought substantial improvements in the healthcare field and continues to change things for the better, so we can safely say that eHealth will gain even more ground in the future.