Healthcare is an industry that undergoes continuous transformations in the hopes of making it accessible to as many people as possible. Progress is made every day, with new technology that aims to reshape the healthcare industry probably being launched as you read this article. Thankfully, before COVID-19 changed life as we know it, healthcare technology innovators and platforms like Veriheal were already transforming how providers meet with patients and how they manage their electronic records.
Augmented reality, big data, artificial intelligence, the blockchain – all these technologies are used to help healthcare organizations meet the ever-growing demand for efficient patient care. Our confidence, however, was shattered at the beginning of this year, when the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic. A new virus that was unheard of would put the entire world to test and shake governments to the core.
For Americans, the blow was even heavier – our healthcare system is outdated, and we need to do something about it fast. A recent survey revealed that 43.4% of US adults between the ages of 19 and 64 are inadequately insured, 12.5% are uninsured, and 21.3% are underinsured.
The only way to overcome these issues is by making healthcare more accessible for people and actively working to spread the right information and awareness. Technology is one great asset that can aid with both of these challenges, and here are just a few of the ways it can change the healthcare industry as we know it.
Digitalization of health records
Doctors and healthcare professionals all over the country have to deal with mountains of paperwork every day. Keeping patient records the traditional way has become tedious and requires a lot of the energy and time of healthcare professionals. The time spent collecting patient data, recording it, and transmitting it to other institutions could be better used for actually treating patients.
Electronic health records (EHR) are basically a summary of a patient’s medical record that can be uploaded into the cloud and accessed by any healthcare professional in the country, or world, whenever needed. This means a patient won’t have to collect all medical records from the providers they visited before going to a new specialist.
Everything would be accessible with just a few clicks – allergies, intolerances, prior injuries, and anything that may be relevant for treating the patient. These records are especially useful if the patient is unconscious and cannot answer any of the doctor’s questions.
One great example of how EHR is already used throughout the U.S. comes from Veriheal, a healthcare technology platform that focuses on informing, educating, and connecting patients in need of medical marijuana cards with doctors and professionals. Their EHR platform helps doctors gather medical records, manage appointments, and conduct telehealth sessions all while keeping patient confidentiality and privacy in place.
Veriheal’s goal is to make the experience of consulting a medical marijuana doctor as easy as possible. With their online solutions, in most states, patients can consult with a physician online from the comfort of their own home. Furthermore, Veriheal’s platform is secure and HIPPA-compliant, so patients and doctors both know their records are safe, saving both time and energy for patients and providers.
Mobile apps bridge connections
People are almost inseparable from their handheld devices, be them smartphones or tablets, so why not put these devices to good use?
Through mobile apps, patients could have instant access to their medical information, keep track of their appointments, get reminders to take their medication on schedule, and even be reminded when it’s time to schedule a new checkup. If health and fitness apps already help people keep track of their activity levels, food, and hydration levels, then why not take this to the next level?
These types of apps can also help physicians reduce the time spent maintaining records or performing other routine tasks. A lot of their time can also be saved by providing patients with accurate information about specific prescription medicine through these apps, effectively minimizing the array of questions doctors get.
Telemedicine improves access and saves time
Telemedicine existed long before the coronavirus pandemic, but not many people knew about it until they had to think twice before leaving the house. If you think about it, telemedicine should be the next rational step in the evolution of the healthcare system, because it allows patients to consult with specialists regardless of their physical location. This has the potential to actually save lives!
If a patient can’t go to the doctor’s office, they can call in, schedule a telemedical consultation, and then take advantage of various apps or devices to transmit data to the doctors. Through the use of these apps, doctors can check biosignals, medical images, test results and a multitude of other information to make accurate diagnoses. This can reduce waiting time for patients and speed up treatment.
Big data makes it possible to identify trends
Big data is everywhere now, so it does not come as a surprise to see it integrated into healthcare as well. Large sets of data allow us to gather and analyze information found online, identifying or predicting patterns and trends that can be used in the future to improve technology and user experience.
The healthcare industry could benefit from this in a number of ways:
- Fewer medical errors: By analyzing patient records, software can detect if there are any inconsistencies regarding the patient’s history and the medication prescribed, signaling if there is a potential risk for errors.
- Better preventive care: Everyone in the healthcare industry is familiar with frequent flyers – recurring patients that come into the emergency room way too often. In fact, they make up 28% of ER visits. To keep them from returning as often as they do, big data can help identify these people and create individual preventative treatment plans.
- Allocating proper staff: Big data can perform thorough analyses that could predict future admission rates for clinics and hospitals, helping them assign the proper number of staff and reduce waiting times for patients.
While COVID-19 has changed how people interact with one another, and for some it has created barriers to access to medical providers, healthcare technology continues to evolve and makes seeing a doctor quicker and easier when telehealth is a viable option. Patients and doctors will both benefit from the ease of sending and receiving records through secure platforms and will save time with easy-to-use apps. With time, big data will prove to be a valuable asset for treatment decisions and for making the most of hospital resources.