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If you look around, you will quickly find several examples of how technology has improved our daily lives. Smartphones, personal computers, and many other devices simplify our tasks and make our lives more comfortable. Practically all industries and productive sectors benefit from various technological developments.
Medicine and healthcare are not the exception. A modern hospital is equipped with computers and sophisticated electronic equipment. Some of the applications of digital technology in a hospital include:
- Electronic medical records (EMRs), allowing physicians to access patients’ relevant information in a short time.
- Imaging equipment. Practically every hospital utilizes X-Ray machines, ultrasound, CT, and MRI to enable more precise diagnostics of diseases.
- Medical sensors. From capsule endoscopes to implantable pacemakers, wireless communication technologies allow physicians to treat several diseases more effectively.
Despite the many technological tools that physicians already have to improve diagnosis and treatment, researchers are continuously developing newer and more effective solutions. So, let us review the different ways technology is benefiting physicians and patients alike.
Patients recovering from surgery or major trauma often require prolonged time in bed. To prevent pain and discomfort, electric adjustable bed frames allow changing the shape of the bed with the click of a button. This way, patients can adjust their head and leg height easily.
Likewise, for patients that cannot sit for many hours, using a standing desk frame is an excellent solution. A standing desk allows a patient to work while standing, and to sit when they deem it necessary. In the same manner, a click of a button allows adjusting the height of the tabletop quickly.
Traditionally, a patient’s medical records with a chronic disease can amount to dozens of paper sheets. Looking for relevant information in such records is time-consuming. Electronic medical records (EMRs) make it simpler for physicians to look for critical data about the medical history of a patient. With just a simple query, a physician can
Also, today more than ever, patients’ data are very safe. Cloud computing and encryption algorithms keep this information entirely confidential and accessible to authorized personnel only. Patients can be sure that their privacy and security will not be compromised when they go to the doctor.
The concept of telemedicine is now possible thanks to electronic devices that monitor different physiological parameters. These wearable devices usually monitor a patient’s health, and send the information wirelessly to a physician for assessment. An example of a wearable device is a glucose sensor to monitor a patient’s blood sugar level.
For example, a physician can remotely query such a wearable device to get a patient’s blood sugar data over a few days. This way, the doctor can know the current status of a patient suffering from diabetes and determine whether the treatment is working properly. The same device can be used for self-monitoring, allowing patients to handle their chronic diseases more effectively.
Self-monitoring has many benefits. One of the most prominent benefits is the reduction of costs to manage a chronic disease, since the number of doctor visits is drastically reduced. Patients’ finances are not strongly affected by a chronic disease in such cases. In welfare countries like the Nordic countries, the use of wearable devices also reduces the cost of healthcare for the population.
Besides wearable devices, physicians can use implantable sensors and actuators to make better diagnosis or treat diseases more effectively. For instance, people suffering from cardiac arrhythmias can get implantable pacemakers, which are much more convenient.
Also, to diagnose problems in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, doctors can use capsule endoscopes. Such an electronic device is the size of a regular pill, which a patient can swallow. A capsule endoscope is equipped with a LED, a camera, and a radio transmitter. As the capsule endoscope advances along the GI tract, it sends images that physicians can later analyze with the help of sophisticated software.
Traditional imaging systems such as X-Ray or MRI machines help physicians to make more accurate diagnostics. However, they suffer from some drawbacks like misidentification of cancerous tumors. That is why researchers are developing new imaging technologies like medical radar, which can detect cancerous tumors more precisely.
This technology consists in the use of robotic arms to perform surgical procedures on patients that would not tolerate traditional surgery. Physicians program the sequence of movements that the robotic arm must perform. Since robots are more precise, the risk of error is significantly reduced. This technology benefits patients of advanced age or delicate health conditions, for whom traditional surgery could be dangerous.
We are witnessing the fastest technological evolution for healthcare ever. Nowadays, both patients and physicians benefit from the use of advanced medical equipment. Researchers continue developing more solutions with the use of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, telecommunications, virtual reality (VR), and other technologies.