Healthcare Technology Featured Article

March 24, 2012

TMCnet's Healthcare Tech Week in Review

It wasn’t so long ago that the only thing we thought of when we heard the word, “robot,” were big steel clanking things that were a little scary, or, back in the day, “Lost in Space,” if you’re old enough to remember. But robots today do a lot of amazing things, including removing cancerous prostates and hysterectomies, to putting a stent in a patient’s artery, a previously very invasive surgery.

But, as Timothy Hay of The Wall Street Journal reports, they’re now using “a sophisticated brain and an unlimited tolerance for menial tasks.” That’s right. In the next few years you just might see a robot “carrying a tray of medications or a load of laundry down hospital corridors,” according to Hay. They’re called “blue-collar robots” and there are not too many around right now. But Hay notes that experts expect these numbers to grow quickly.

No more driving to the doctor, sitting in the waiting room and taking precious time out of your day. Now it’s all done over connected machines. Something is revolutionizing healthcare, and it’s known by a very simple name: M2M. But it’s a very powerful concept that is changing the way doctors and patients interact with one another. Short for machine-to-machine, it represents machines connected to each other to share and deliver healthcare data. It can be done either wirelessly or over wired machines that allow clinicians to view images, write notes, monitor vital signs and talk to patients in real time, no matter where the doctor – or data – or the patients are.

Mobile health apps are helping us live healthier lives, monitor chronic diseases and keep the elderly safe at home. But what apps would we like to see in the future? Johns Hopkins University hopes it has the answer. Faculty, staff and students are now assessing the effectiveness of various mobile health applications “as part of the institution's Global mHealth Initiative,” to evaluate mobile health strategies and see what new applications are possible.

You’d have to be living under a rock not to know that the constitutionality of the nation’s healthcare reform effort, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will be argued next week in front of the Supreme Court. To prepare for this, one of the country’s largest civil rights coalitions wants litigants and justices alike to remember what the act is set up to do – provide healthcare to people who can’t afford it, including minority communities, according to a press release from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCR).

It’s estimated that 80 percent of hospitals have to frequently treat patients who don’t speak English that well, while 81 percent of internal medicine physicians treat these patients almost every day and 84 percent of federally qualified health centers provide clinical services daily to these same patients.

Referred to as Limited English Proficiency (LEP), these patients often have trouble understanding what doctors are saying about their health conditions and what they are proposing to about it. Often hospitals worry about how approved consent really is to complex procedures and treatments. According to the Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), “language access services (LAS) have become more and more a matter of national importance.” 

On April 17 at 2pm EST/11:00am PST, will present a webinar on “Healthcare Interpreting Programs: Getting It Approved, Setting It Up, and Ensuring Quality,” to help healthcare organizations understand what they need to do to create a language access program that works for patients, doctors and families.

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