Disruptive technologies that will remove disruptions from our healthcare experiences
Editor’s note: This blog was written in collaboration with Jenna Date, Chief Experience Officer at Allscripts. As CXO, Jenna Leads the Allscripts Education, Design + Innovation team. Jenna’s personal mission is to lead Design for a compassionate world.
From self-driving cars to 3D printing, technologies that were once the stuff of science fiction are now becoming a reality. Healthcare has trailed many consumer industries in terms of innovation due to the complexities of human biology and regulatory constraints. However, we are now on the precipice of a new technological evolution where devices will remove friction from our healthcare interactions and provide rich insights into our health.
Here are some of the exciting ways advanced technology will change the patient and provider experience in the not-so-distant future:
Reimagining the hospital setting
The hospital room of tomorrow will be shaped, in many ways, by what people don’t notice, as smart technology will enable less obtrusive experiences for all. Most everything—from TVs and beds to toilets and showers—will gather information and deliver it to the provider. Sensors will automate routine data collection and tasks for both clinical and operational purposes. For example, a provider will no longer need to wake a patient in the middle of the night to gather vital signs as these will be monitored without physical human intervention. Stockrooms equipped with sensors will maintain precise counts of supplies coming in and going out. As a result, these technologies will help alleviate pressure induced by healthcare workforce shortages and support human-to-human interaction between patients and providers as well as within care teams.
Though many of the advancements to come will be subtle, we can also expect more noticeable changes that will delight the senses. Patients may find digital displays of nature in their hospital rooms, for instance. Studies indicate that even these virtual outdoor sceneries can have stress-relieving, healing benefits. Soundscapes will cut through the noise of louder environments like intensive care units, where alarms often create a cacophony that distracts providers and disturbs patients. As we learn more about our bodies and minds, we will be able to create healthcare settings that work in service of both.
Connecting our everyday lives to our care
During the pandemic we’ve seen healthcare increasingly shift to the patient’s home, and we can predict this trend will continue even when COVID-19 is more manageable. The rise of the internet of things (IoT) will bring telehealth to new levels. Medical IoT like Bluetooth-enabled glucometers, blood pressure machines and heart rate monitors are already on the market. With time, these will grow more commonplace and enable patients to give providers relevant health measures from the comfort and convenience of their homes in real time, around the clock.
In addition to traditional medical devices, consumer technologies will provide even more data to form a more complete picture of patients’ health. Eighty-five percent of Americans own smartphones and big tech companies are developing new features to break further into the healthcare space. For example, the accelerometer in an Apple iPhone can detect a person’s risk of a fall. From smart thermostats to smart scales, we will know more about patients’ behaviors and environments than ever before.
In terms of wearables, more than one in five Americans currently own a smart watch, and many of these are now equipped with applications that measure heart rhythm, sleep patterns and blood oxygen levels, to name a few. Sensors woven into the fibers of clothing are also in development and will provide additional means to track and analyze a person’s health. Much like the features of the new hospital room, these innovations will integrate seamlessly into our lives.
Putting the pieces together
As this future ecosystem of health takes shape, the electronic health record (EHR) will sit at the center of it all, ingesting data from the world around us to enable providers and patients to make more informed care decisions together. At Allscripts, we will continue to build open, connected communities of health for everyone to make this vision possible.