Smart Health IT is a technology based platform which makes use of applications that effortlessly run across the healthcare system. With the support of Electronic health record (EHR) system or data warehouse, patients, doctors and healthcare practitioners can draw on this application to improve clinical care, research, and public health.
Smart health system provides certain health-related services using a network of intelligent agents such as computing devices, mobile phones, sensors, Fitbit smart bands, surgical devices, and devices that measures blood chemistry and brainwaves.
Disruptive changes in healthcare sector is creating tremendous positive impact on diagnosis and treatment of diseases and patient care. Some of the recent technologies are:
- E-Healthcare: The term E-Health refers to the use of electronic gadgets such as computers, laptops and networks like internet to store and manage the medical records, instead of using paper files. With this technology, the valuable information about health is available when and where it is needed. E-Health is also called as health information technology.
- M-Health: M-health or mobile health is a general term for the usage of mobile phones and communication devices to educate people on preventive healthcare services. M-Health is also used for disease surveillance, treatment support, epidemic outbreak tracking and chronic disease management.
- Telemedicine: Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technology to provide clinical healthcare virtually. It eliminates the distance barrier and improves access to medical services that would often not be consistently available in rural communities. Telemedicine involves the usage of evolving technologies and telecommunications by doctors and healthcare professionals.Patients can be treated over live video or through still captured images and their health records can be saved for future reference and treatment.
- Portal Technology: With the active technologies, patients are increasingly becoming the players in their own healthcare, and portal technology is one tool that is helping them in doing so. Portal technology allows physicians and patients to access medical records and interact online. This technology allows the patients to become more aware of technology and its use in personal healthcare.Patients can easily access and view their health information such as:
- Recent doctor visits
- Discharge summaries
- Lab results
- Making payments
- Exchange secure e-mail with their healthcare team
- Request prescription refills etc.
- Teleradiology: involves the transmission and sharing of medical images such as X-Ray, CTs, and MRIs from one location to another for referrals/consultations with specialists.This recent practice is implemented by hospitals to address the problem of lack of inadequate staff.
- Remote monitoring Technology: Remote patient monitoring (RPM), also called as homecare telehealth. This involves daily monitoring services through medical devices such as glucose meters, heart or blood pressure monitors for elderly and chronically ill patients. The data can be sent to the physician’s office by using a special telehealth computer system.
- Sensors and wearable technology: consists of smart wristbands, watches, shirts, shoes, caps, headbands, eyeglasses, belts etc. and most of these devices are fitted with sensors that gather data which is then fed to the database for analysis. This analysis triggers a response. For example, it may alert a physician to contact a patient who is experiencing abnormal symptoms such as heart attack or any personal trauma.
- Wireless communications: Instant messaging and walkie-talkies are replacing devices such as beepers and pagers. Systems like Vocera Messaging offer platforms for users to send secure messages like lab tests and alerts to one another using smartphones, web-based consoles or third party clinical systems.
The disruptive technologies in healthcare sector are poised to change patient care and the way we treat diseases. The following are a few of the evolving technologies:
- Google’s research arm, Google X has developed a contact lens that can measure the glucose level in a patient and transmit the information through a mobile device, to the healthcare provider. This can act as a reminder to give an insulin shot.
- Cutting Back on Melanoma Biopsies: In case of Melanoma, a wide number of dangerous looking moles can appear harmless but can only be detected by an invasive surgical biopsy. Dermatologists have developed a handheld tool approved by FDA for multispectral analysis of tissue morphology. The MelaFind optical scanner is used to provide additional information to the doctor so as to help him determine whether to go ahead with a biopsy for the patient. The aim is to reduce the number of patients undergoing biopsies, and reduce the cost involved.
- Needle-Free Diabetes Care: Diabetes necessitates constant need to draw blood for testing, the need for taking insulin shots and the heightened risk of developing infections from that poke. Continuous monitoring of glucose and insulin pumps are the two best options for blood sugar management. Echo Therapeutics is developing technologies that would remove the poke with a patch. A transdermal biosensor reads the blood analytics without the need for drawing blood. This technology involves the use of handheld electric toothbrush like device that removes required skin cells for the patient’s biochemistry. The sensor collects one reading per minute and sends the data wirelessly to a remote monitor, triggering audible alarms when levels go out of the patient’s optimal range and helps in tracking glucose levels over time.
- A Valve job with a heart: The Sapien transcatheter aortic valve is a life-saving alternative to open-heart surgery, for patients who need a new valve but can’t endure the rigors of the operation. The Sapien valve is guided through the femoral artery by catheter through a small incision near the groin or rib cage. The valve material is made of bovine tissue attached to a stainless-steel stent, which is expanded by inflating a small balloon when correctly placed in the valve space. A simpler procedure that promises dramatically shorter hospitalizations is bound to have a positive effect on the cost of care.
- Robotic Nurse Assistant: Every year many nurses are injured as a result of carrying patients after an emergency or a fall. Recently RIBA (Robot for interactive body assistance) was developed by RIKEN and Tokai Rubber industries and assisted hardware such as HAL (hybrid assistive limb). RIBA is the first robot designed to lift or set down a real human from or to a bed or wheelchair. RIBA does this using its very strong human-like arms and its novel tactile guidance methods using high-accuracy tactile sensors. RIBA was developed by integrating RIKEN’s control, sensor, and information processing and TRI’s material and structural design technologies.
- Advances in Prosthetics: Injuries to our Military including loss of limbs and traumatic brain injury can be rectified by the development of prosthetics. DARPA is looking to change that by enabling wounded service members with amputations to neutrally control state of the art prosthetic limbs. The goal of this development is to support them in returning to their active lifestyle and improve the quality of their life.
- Artificial Intelligence in Radiology: IBM’s Watson supercomputer has been used in oncology to assist medical decision-making cost effective. IBM’s Medical Sieve project aims to diagnose most lesions with a smart software, leaving room for radiologists to focus on the most important cases instead of checking hundreds of images every day.
- 3D Bioprinting: Already widely used in industries, the medical sector is also expected to benefit from the use of 3D printing technology. Innovations in this field are expected to make the practice of organ transplant operations more scalable in the near future. Most of the 3D printed solutions are coming in at a reasonable price point. For example, experts have developed 3D-printed skin for burn victims and airway splints for babies with tracheobronchomalacia, which makes the tiny airways around the lungs prone to collapsing. The airway splints are especially significant since they are the first 3D implant made for kids and they’re designed to grow with the patient. The medical implant had been successfully tested in three children between the ages of three months and 16 months as of April 2015.
- Robotic Surgery: Another key technology area on the rise is robotic surgery, with a focus on minimal access (keyhole) surgeries carried out through telemedicine solutions. This modern technology can bring effective healthcare to patients residing in remote areas.
These innovative medical technologies will have a strong and positive impact on the society as a whole .The way forward is for companies, individuals and governments to collaborate and promote the required improvements in the health care sector by making it cost effective and affordable.
- SMART Health IT. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2017, from https://smarthealthit.org/
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