Innovation and integration of medical technology in rural health care | So Good News
Technology enables innovative solutions that provide the best possible treatment to those suffering from various ailments. Conventional health care paradigms are evolving with medical innovations that are changing the prevention, diagnosis, management, and control of various diseases and health conditions. However, advanced healthcare technologies are often inaccessible to patients in rural areas due to distance and travel costs. Let’s take a look at how medical technology can help increase access to healthcare advances regardless of geographic location.
EMRs (Electronic Medical Records)
Electronic medical records (EMRs) allow treatment plans to be implemented regardless of which center a patient visits. Critical information such as lab reports, diagnoses and prescriptions can be accessed anywhere and anytime, allowing doctors to provide timely and accurate patient care without having to travel miles.
Remote patient management can be enabled through smart wearables. Paired with a mobile phone and an app, they can provide real-time information on vital health statistics to a doctor who can be accessed remotely via tablet or phone. The real-time monitoring provided by the device helps reduce the frequency of clinic visits. Patients communicate with their doctors regardless of their health care situation. Doctors and patients need not worry about the security of their health data as it can be protected by blockchain technology.
An integrated e-ICU network in partnership with local public and private health centers can address the lack of access to critical care. The E-ICU model allows for training as well as access to ICU professionals through a remote ICU setup, where a central team monitors patients in real-time via video link. The e-ICU has standardized protocols and operating procedures and is supported by smart solutions. The e-ICU model provides a faster turnaround in the clinical management of critical cases.
AI, ML and IoT
AI (artificial intelligence), ML (machine learning), big data and the Internet of Things are reshaping the healthcare industry. It can be used to analyze medical data and identify patterns to make informed decisions and predict problems before they arise. Similarly, the Internet of Things will play an important role in the development of medical devices and advanced equipment for real-time diagnosis, monitoring, surveillance and control of diseases.
New medical devices are a key element of healthcare innovation. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, in recent years, regulatory agencies have announced a record number of new medical device approvals in many areas, including mechanical heart valves, digital health technologies and 3D printing devices.
Advances in data science are leading to genomic analysis used to advance precision medicine. Gene therapy and gene therapy have revolutionized clinical medicine and specialized care, especially for rare diseases and conditions where conventional treatments are not available.
COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of accelerating innovation in healthcare. Although the impact of the pandemic has decreased, the risk of new outbreaks of other viruses is increasing. Maintaining the momentum of innovation will be essential to effectively respond to these infections. The future of healthcare requires a real-time, collaborative approach to innovation that spans multiple scientific disciplines and brings together education, research, big pharma, hospitals and patients.
The role of enabling policies
Innovation requires not only funding, but also policies that encourage and support the development of an enabling ecosystem. Governments can accelerate the availability of innovative technologies by developing tax incentive schemes and encouraging programs that allow technologies to move from academic concepts to viable commercial enterprises.
Healthcare facilities should invest in innovative products and participate in initiatives that provide funds for small healthcare centers to purchase new technologies and innovations. Linking small centers with larger institutions facilitates large-scale and easy integration of innovations.
Healthcare institutions should have a portfolio of innovative initiatives to implement medical innovations more quickly. They should periodically review the innovation pipeline and work to strengthen innovation investments. Faster integration of innovations in healthcare delivery can be achieved by:
Using a “beta” mindset and soft-launch innovative models that ensure security, can be improved through user feedback.
Adding operational models to quickly select and test multiple innovations instead of pursuing a single option.
Key stakeholder decision-making to accelerate decisions across a broad portfolio of innovations.
Rural access through healthtech
Today, technology underpins many aspects of healthcare. Healthtech plays an important role in improving the efficiency of healthcare, improving clinical outcomes and reducing human error. The healthtech ecosystem is changing and disrupting healthcare delivery in rural areas where access to advanced healthcare is difficult. This will lead to improved health outcomes and redefine the way health care providers and recipients interact in rural areas. The use of data in innovative algorithms based on cognitive learning has advanced significantly, improving the way evidence-based care plans and ecosystems are used. This greatly increases access to the best care regardless of geographic limitations.
Views shared by Arvind Sivaramakrishnan, CIO, Apollo Hospitals
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