Healthcare Technology Systems 2021: Tools That Have Proven Invaluable
The past year has given rise to technological innovations in many sectors and industries, including the healthcare industry.
A big part of the reason for this is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to the development of new ways to provide routine healthcare services and new technologies for specific procedures in hospitals, among other things.
Of course, we also live in an age where technology is rapidly evolving no matter what, especially in terms of online systems, communication, and cybersecurity.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the healthcare tools and trends that have proven invaluable in 2021, for you to keep an eye on in 2022.
Healthcare Technology System Trends Emerging from 2021
HIPAA-compliant video conferencing tools
HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a federal law that governs the way healthcare providers in the US protect the privacy and security of peoples’ medical records and health information.
During the pandemic, many industries moved a large portion of their business to online platforms, the healthcare industry included. However, because of the unique privacy and security concerns around patient medical data, healthcare service providers couldn’t use the same video conferencing tools as other businesses.
That’s why HIPAA-compliant video conferencing platforms emerged. These platforms provide higher levels of encryption and cybersecurity than normal video conferencing tools in order to protect sensitive medical data up to the standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the medical sector has been steadily on the rise for years now, and 2021 was no exception.
AI-driven systems help lighten the workload on specialists, such as radiologists, especially when there is added pressure and a shortage of staff during a pandemic.
Up until now, medical staff are mainly using AI as a supplementary tool to help reduce human error and assist with faster diagnoses, but such technology has the potential to take over in many areas of diagnostic healthcare in the years to come.
AI and machine learning technology can also be incredibly helpful in developing predictive models, as we saw it used to do to predict the spread of COVID-19 throughout the world over the past year.
Hospitals already had rigorous sanitization protocols prior to the pandemic, but even more frequent and thorough sanitization was required as a result of the coronavirus. This is where sanitization robots come in.
These autonomous robots can move around an area or a room of a hospital or other medical facility emitting ultraviolet light that kills germs — think a robot vacuum, but for disinfecting rooms instead of cleaning up their floors.
You might be familiar with the customer service chatbots that you can find on many companies’ websites, but did you know that healthcare providers are starting to employ them as symptom checkers?
Hospitals and clinics can add chatbots to their websites to provide 24/7 customer service to their patients and gather preliminary information about symptoms and issues to help provide faster, more accurate medical services during business hours.
Medical chatbots can even help patients determine their next steps and advise them whether or not they need to seek immediate medical attention, thus potentially decreasing the number of patients with mild symptoms from occupying space in hospitals and clinics when it’s not absolutely necessary.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
VR and AR are another toolset that is finding exciting new applications in healthcare technology systems in 2021.
For instance, virtual reality can be used to help train medical staff through things like virtual surgical training, clinic tours, and more.
Augmented reality tools, like glasses with built-in AR technology, can be worn by medical staff as sort of a virtual assistant to help remind them of things and make certain processes more efficient.
Additionally, virtual reality and augmented reality technology can be used to help patients in a variety of circumstances.
For example, VR glasses can be worn by patients, especially children, during procedures to help distract them with games or activities and put them more at ease. Or, AR devices can be used during rehabilitation after medical procedures.
Cloud-based healthcare data management tools
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, some healthcare providers have been slow to upgrade outdated data management and analytics systems.
However, the pandemic made it clear that there is a need for universal healthcare data management technology, based in the cloud, that makes it easy to update and share important medical data and statistics in real-time.
Naturally, this helps with a worldwide response to a pandemic, but it can also help improve basic healthcare. For example, if someone moves or changes healthcare service providers, their old providers can easily share all their medical data with their new providers for a much smoother and faster transition.
The healthcare industry is constantly evolving and adapting its healthcare technology systems to changing needs. One good thing to come out of the coronavirus pandemic is that it has helped the medical sector develop and implement new tools and technologies even faster.
Keep your eyes out for the tools mentioned above in 2022 because they’re certain to be making big impacts in healthcare in the near future.