Today, almost every aspect of our lives is digitized, including healthcare. Professionals are armed with special IT solutions. These systems allow them to collect, store, and share patient data. Patients themselves can monitor their health via apps and special devices. Online communities facilitate sharing and discussing of experience. Overall, health IT is a broad term that denotes an entire world of convenient systems.
Thanks to modern technology, medical professionals and patients achieve better results. Powerful healthcare IT solutions can be developed from scratch. They bring undeniable benefits to everyone involved in the industry. Here are a few highlights that demonstrate the scope of the changes. Some of them may astonish you!
Before the advent of high technology, doctors had only paper records to consult. Sometimes, they had to rely on their patients’ memories, which was far from commendable. Luckily, modern clinics can employ advanced solutions to ensure more accurate treatment. They use detailed patient records to better analyze individual histories.
No more misunderstandings or inaccuracies due to forgetfulness. Without dependable records, drug names may be confused, and treatment will be ineffective. Modern systems also eliminate the risk of over-prescribing medications. In some cases, this saves lives.
The Advent of Big Data
The population of our planet has surpassed 7.5 billion, and millions now monitor their health using smartwatches and other wearables. If all this gigantic data could be aggregated in one place, by a searchable but anonymous system, and researchers would have a priceless tool for the creation of new drugs and scientific studies.
This idea is not far-fetched. Today, a company called Evidation has a system with data from several million volunteers. The tool provides trillions of data points. This colossal volume of information is being analyzed, and dozens of studies have already been released. So far, their subjects have included sleep, diet patterns, and cognition.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Patients with motor dysfunctions benefit from VR-based systems. These create environments where interactions are more diverse than in a physical therapy room. Systems based on augmented reality provide data overlays. For example, they allow surgeons to access crucial information during their work. VR and AR have also revolutionized education as students can practice in realistic simulators.
Immersive Rehab is a UK-based start-up. Its mission is to enrich neurological rehab practices with VR. With a headset, patients can do a wider range of exercises. This helps maintain brain plasticity and restore neural connections. At the same time, medical professionals gain access to more data to track progress and customize programs. With VR, rehab is no longer dull and repetitive. At the moment, clinical trials are about to be launched in Europe and the USA.
Artificial intelligence is another booming segment. AI in radiology or take the InnerEye project, a recently unveiled product by Microsoft. This system for radiotherapy allows professionals to create their own 3D imaging models. The corporation has been working with experts in different medical fields. It is also working on the ambitious Hanover Project, an AI-system designed to help humans cure cancer. It includes machine learning, decision support, and management of chronic diseases.
AI Against Cancer
Lung cancer is one of the most evasive types of the disease, as its symptoms appear at late stages only. The use of CT scans for early screening is not perfect. All too often, patients receive unnecessary treatments due to a flawed interpretation of results. Sadly, false positives are more common than we would like.
The Google Health team has been working on an AI system that increases the accuracy of lung cancer diagnostics. The algorithm was trained using over 45,000 real CT scans. In comparison with a control group of six radiology professionals, the system showed higher accuracy. It was able to identify 5% more cases with 11% fewer false positives. These are encouraging results, but the potential is much bigger.
AI for Study Analysis
Every year, over two million peer-reviewed research papers come out. Naturally, reading them all is beyond human capacity. This means a lot of valuable insights are overlooked. AI-enriched devices, on the other hand, can digest immense volumes of data. Developers have come up with state-of-the-art algorithms. These can quickly scour all those sources of biomedical data. They may be programmed to identify connections between diseases, genes, and drugs. The importance of this innovation is undeniable.
Benefits for Patients
IT tools raise the level of care overall. When all health records are electronic, the benefits are multiple. These include:
- enhanced safety due to lower probability of medical error,
- higher efficiency of medical treatment overall,
- a stronger focus on each individual patient,
- smooth communication,
- better health awareness,
- increased timeliness of treatment, and
Today, there is a wide range of gadgets based on IoMT (the Internet of Medical Things). Patients can use wearables to keep track of their glucose levels, blood pressure, temperature, etc. This field includes software, intelligent and smart devices, healthcare systems, and more. Now, medical help may be provided remotely, and data is received by experts instantly.
Now, there is a wide variety of smart medical devices. These monitors measure, analyze, and send data to the healthcare provider, as they are connected to their network. The range includes wearables, hospital beds and infusion pumps with sensors, systems for tracking of medication, supply, and inventory.
Monitoring aids let physicians know how their patient is doing, eliminating the need for frequent appointments. These innovations have resulted in a higher efficiency of healthcare for patients, medical professionals, and insurance systems. And development shows no signs of slowing down!
Information collected and produced by new systems is easier to analyze. This makes the work of both practitioners and state agencies easier. Instant access to statistical data helps them design and implement policies that improve treatment and prevention overall. Now, AI can digest and systemize gigantic volumes of data, while VR enhances the rehab experience. These and many more innovations are raising the efficiency of healthcare systems around the world.