Healthcare Technology Featured Article

December 13, 2016

Three Healthcare Technologies You'll See More of in 2017

Technology and healthcare are quickly becoming two peas in a pod, with advances in technology helping to change and improve the way medical professionals treat their patients. This year, for example, brought us innovations in treating brain clots and mind-controlled prosthetic limbs for amputees and paralyzed patients, just to name a few. Now that 2016 is coming to a close, what new healthcare technologies can we expect to see more of in the new year?

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has really made a comeback for video gaming, in the form of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or Samsung Gear VR, but it’s good for more than just games. The use of virtual reality has a variety of applications in the healthcare industry as well. How can medical professionals benefit from the application of VR in their field?

  • Training simulations: Virtual reality can be used as a training medium for both new and experienced healthcare professionals by providing a safe virtual space to learn new techniques or practice old ones.
  • Diagnostics: Imagine being able to walk through an MRI or CT scan to be able to make a more accurate diagnosis. By incorporating virtual reality into healthcare, doctors can offer a better diagnosis by literally walking into the scan to find the data they need.
  • Surgery: Virtual surgery isn’t a new concept, having been completed with robotic hands controlled by surgeons in another room. Virtual reality enables these same surgeries to be completed with a much higher level of control and detail orientation.
  • Treatment for PTSD/Autism/Mental Illness: Virtual reality exposure therapy uses a virtual world to help individuals who are dealing with PTSD, autism, mental illness or a variety of other diagnoses by using a safe virtual world to expose them to environments and situations that might be triggers. 

These are just a few examples of how virtual reality will begin to shape and change the healthcare industry in the coming years.

Cloud Platforms

We’ve all probably had a bit of experience with cloud storage platforms. Whether you use them to store the pictures from your smartphone or you utilize cloud storage during the workday to collaborate with colleagues from around the world, cloud platforms are a part of our daily lives.

Cloud storage platforms can also be beneficial for the medical industry, for a variety of reasons including:

  • Cost: Cloud systems are much more cost effective than their analog counterparts. If more parts of the industry are able to adopt the use of a cloud system, the money saved on data storage could potentially be passed on to the patient in the form of savings.
  • Application: Cloud storage systems allow collected data to be applied in real time, which can be essential when dealing with everything from clinical trials to disease pandemics. 
  • Health record storage: Digital health records are easily accessible no matter where patients might travel in the United States. If a patient is in an accident or comes down with an illness while traveling, their health records can be accessed quickly and easily to expedite treatment.

More and more applications for cloud platforms and storage systems will become commonplace as the technology becomes increasingly advanced and easier to implement.

Automated Solutions

Most major industries in the world have embraced some level of automation to expedite their production processes, but the healthcare industry is one that has notably avoided the implementation of automation, and patients are suffering for it.

One of the biggest examples of this is the lack of primary care provider coverage in some of the busiest and most populated areas in the country. In places like New York and Atlanta, patients can expect to wait for 20-30 days before being able to see a primary care provider. In Boston, patients have to wait more than two months before an appointment becomes available.

While there does still need to be a human element to the healthcare industry, a lot of information, such as raw data from equipment like glucometers and other similar pieces of hardware, can be automated and translated into something usable by medical professionals.

Automation could potentially help nurses and healthcare professionals manage the sheer amount of patients that they need to deal with on a daily basis. By automating a lot of the data collection, offices will be able to assist more patients every day.

The entire medical industry is in a state of flux as new technologies help it to grow and become a more efficient and effective industry. These three applications of technology will help the industry change and improve in the coming year. We can only guess what other changes 2017 holds for us. 

Edited by Alicia Young

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