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How Technological Advancements Are Supporting Today’s Hospitals

telemedicine-healthcare professionals-pandemic-hospital technology-emergency medicine
telemedicine-healthcare professionals-pandemic-hospital technology-emergency medicine
Dr. Bertalan Meskó, Photo Courtesy of András Zoltai

The newfound prevalence of telemedicine, combined with advancing technology across all aspects of healthcare, is helping to ease the burden on healthcare professionals and hospitals in 2022.

Dr. Bertalan Meskó, Ph.D., director of The Medical Futurist Institute, which aims to spark conversations about shifting the paradigm of medicine, talks about the utility of this and other technologies beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

What technologies are most important for hospitals to implement in 2022 and why?

The most important thing hospitals should implement in 2022 is not a technology but a concept. It’s called patient design.

Patient design means involving patients on the highest level of decision-making in an organization. This way, patients would have a final say in the design of new facilities, processes, or services provided by the hospital.

As digital health technologies make patients the point of care, any technology that would further support that goal could be beneficial for hospitals. Besides that, hospitals should only implement advanced technologies that have enough evidence to support their efficiency and safety in peer-reviewed studies.

Examples could include using virtual reality devices to ease pain for patients, wearable sensors to obtain data about patients more seamlessly, artificial narrow intelligence to better analyze medical records, or designing designated areas for conducting remote care.

How can hospitals minimize the risk of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs)?

While there are known techniques for trying to avoid, the common concept for doing that could be allowing patients to heal and monitor their health at home, far from hospitals.

This would only become possible through the use of digital health technologies such as wearable sensors, smartwatches with medical features, remote care platforms, and artificial intelligence analyzing the huge amount of data obtained about patients during this transition from the point-of-care to wherever patients are.

Courtesy of András Zoltai

How can portable diagnostic devices help support emergency medicine?

Emergency medicine has been using portable diagnostic devices since the dawn of modern medicine. The real difference we can see nowadays in the use of these technologies lies in their capability to share data with the point-of-care quickly and efficiently. It means the patient’s data should arrive to the hospital before the patient does.

These technologies include portable ultrasound devices (some of these even have A.I. guidance meaning that the ultrasound examiner doesn’t even have to be an experienced expert), portable ECG devices, or lab tests that can be taken on site.

What are some important steps hospitals can take to address nurse burnout and assist their nurses in 2022?

As the pandemic is still going on, the absolute priority should be preserving the mental health of healthcare professionals and help them try to avoid further burn-out.

Besides the traditional techniques for that, it would be crucial for hospitals to address the new norm we are building after the pandemic’s end.

One example would be a rise in telemedical visits which requires a designated area or room for physicians and nurses to see patients through these services. It must be a quiet, well-lit room with proper equipment. Studies show that such rooms help medical professionals adjust to the increased amount of remote care visits.

How can telemedicine support our hospitals and increase access to care?

The technical requirements for telemedicine have been around well before the pandemic hit. But the first lockdowns led to an incredible rise in telemedical visits proving for millions of patients and physicians that it can be a convenient way of accessing and providing medical help.

Even after the pandemic, there will be many areas, especially in underdeveloped regions, where access to a traditionally designed healthcare system will not be possible. For them, telemedical care will be the only possiblity to get the medical help they need.

With the rise of telemedicine, it would also become possible to release the burden on hospitals. To be honest, it has been a luxury already to be able to see a physician with any kind of health problems. With the doctor shortage we will always face from now on, we should get used to telemedical care and understand that it represent the only sustainable option for healthcare in the long term.

What is the long-term outlook for the hospital technology industry?

The long-term outlook is that hospitals should support the transition of the point-of-care from their physical locations to wherever patients are.

With advances in 5G, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and other digital health technologies, hospitals could help better connect the data patients obtain about themselves with their medical records, and the help they can get from medical professionals.

Healthcare in the near future should become invisible, seamless, and as humanistic as possible. When advanced technologies can take away the repetitive components of  a physician’s or nurse’s job, what’s left would be centered around empathy, compassion, and trust. This is the cultural transformation hospitals should facilitate.

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