While there is plenty of talk about the importance of “patient-centric” healthcare delivery, the fact remains that many solutions, systems and strategies are primarily designed to serve providers — not necessarily to empower patients.
However, that old world approach finally appears to be changing thanks to some innovative companies that are developing healthcare technologies that deliver the best of both worlds: providers get the quality assurance, performance, efficiency, results and security they need, while patients get the care, concern and courtesy they deserve. Here’s a look at three innovative healthcare technologies that are raising the bar and making things better for all stakeholders.
- Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR)
When electronic health record (EHR) systems arrived on the scene several years ago, they were heralded as dawning a new, golden age for healthcare data and analytics: one where clinicians and other staff could focus less on crunching numbers, and more on delivering quality care in an affordable manner.
Unfortunately however, many hospitals, health networks and clinics have not experienced this promised golden age. Instead, they are overloaded with interoperability and integration problems. Thankfully — and some staff might say mercifully — that is where FHIR enters the picture and could make a transformative difference.
FHIR is a draft standard that standardizes data formats and elements (a.k.a. resources and an application programming interface (API) for exchanging electronic health records. Early feedback has been very positive, and while the golden age of EHR’s may not be arriving any time soon, FHIR’s may be the light at the end of the long, dark data-overloaded tunnel.
- Mobile Pharmacy Point-of-Sale Solutions
Despite the dominance of the web, and the fact that many retail brick-and-mortar businesses have been forced to scale back — or in some cases, shut down entirely — the importance of old fashioned neighborhood pharmacies is as important as ever. In fact, given our aging population and the fact that many people (if not most people) lead what doctors would classify as a “less than healthy lifestyle,” the value of pharmacies on the front lines of healthcare is greater than ever.
Mobile pharmacy point-of-sale solutions enable pharmacies to lean forward and close the in-store customer gap by, essentially, liberating customer from having to stand in line at the cashier — which is an experience that many of them dislike, and a few of them outright dread. In addition to saving time, mobile pharmacy point-of-sale solutions put a wealth of secure documentation in the hands of staff, as well as rich merchandising tools and reporting features. Retail Management Solutions is a leader in this space. View here for more information.
- Artificial Intelligence for Surgery
Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics have been part of the healthcare landscape for decades, and many innovations used in other fields — such as home automation and consumer electronics — have their research roots in the medical space.
However, what is emerging — and very exciting — is the use of AI in the operating theater, to help surgeons in real-time as they ply their intricate craft. For example, promising experiments are currently underway that allow surgeons to keep their heads up and view a 3D augmented reality rendering of their patients. This technology is also being used as a teaching tool, to give students unprecedented insights into surgical techniques that were previously unavailable through standard (non-AI-aided) viewing.
- Self-Administered HPV Testing
According to HospitalHippo, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is responsible for a staggering 99 percent of cases of cervical cancer, which is the most common malignancy in women aged 35 years and younger. And while tests are available to prevent and treat HPV, they are typically unavailable to women in parts of the world where access to medical equipment and doctors is either limited or virtually non-existent. That is where the self-administered HPV testing holds such life-saving promise.
This technology is contained in a small kit that includes a test tube, swap, and mail-in box. Women administer the test themselves and mail it to a lab to determine if further testing or treatment is necessary. While logistics continues to be a major obstacle — many of the women who need this technology the most live in remote and inaccessible parts of the world — it is definitely a step in the right direction and could be the beginning of a dramatic reduction in cervical cancer.
The Bottom Line
Whether they benefit directly — such as using a mobile pharmacy point-of-sale solution to get the medication they need without the hassle of standing in a checkout line, or they benefit indirectly — such as going “under the knife” during an intricate surgery, the above healthcare technologies are demonstrating that provider-focused and patient-centric do not have to be mutually exclusive approaches. Providers and patients can indeed get the best of both worlds, which is not just essential for them but is critical for society as a whole.