Throughout 2020, we saw a range of healthcare technologies introduced to aid providers in delivering care when they were heavily overwhelmed. Virtual care, automation and patient engagement platforms were utilised around the world, streamlining services while maintaining efficiency and quality.
Many healthcare technology trends in 2020 will continue in 2021. Here’s what you can expect.
- Virtual Care and Telehealth
- Empowering Patients With Home Care and Home Testing
- Maintaining the Global Health Care Supply Chain
- Automation and Artificial Intelligence
- Patient Engagement Platform
1. Virtual Care and Telehealth
With the COVID-19 pandemic demanding much of the healthcare system, virtual care methods became the best way to maintain efficiency and comply with social distancing rules. By using real-time telephone or live audio-video interaction with a patient using a smartphone, tablet or computer, practitioners could provide vital care while mitigating the risk of COVID-19 infection.
Telehealth services are used to:
- Screen patients who may have COVID-19.
- Access primary care providers and specialists.
- Provide coaching and support to patients managing chronic health conditions.
- Participating in physical and occupational therapy.
- Follow-up with patients after hospitalisation.
- Deliver care planning to patients and their families.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be prominent worldwide, virtual care and telehealth will continue to be a method of delivering care throughout 2021.
2. Empowering Patients With Home Care and Home Testing
Due to COVID-19, point-of-care testing has become the norm, making at-home testing a vital option. Many feel at-home testing is more efficient, as it exposes fewer people to any new infection. In 2020, this encouraged vendors to work with healthcare institutions in providing at-home testing options.
In 2021, the government hopes to open two “mega labs” that will double the UK’s daily coronavirus testing. Their plans include a site in Leamington Spa and another at a location in Scotland, increasing capacity to around 600,000 tests. The labs will create up to 4,000 jobs and be used to process tests for other illnesses, such as cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
3. Maintaining the Global Healthcare Supply Chain
Maintaining the healthcare supply chain has always been a challenge, especially during a pandemic. To ensure practitioners aren’t without the drugs and protective equipment they need to deliver the best care, companies and government agencies have had to work together to form collaborations to create a clear path that connects the supply chain.
This was shown in 2020 when the World Health Organisation worked to ensure areas with limited access to supplies could gain that vital access. As we're still experiencing the pandemic across the world, this will remain a challenge in 2021. Ensuring countries coordinate the proper processes will be essential to handling the healthcare crisis now and in the future.
4. Automation and Artificial Intelligence
In healthcare, automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) has helped practitioners make sense of data, process it and tailor a strategy and patient care around it. This innovative technology has provided a wealth of benefits for the healthcare sector, including:
- More time to focus on patients.
- More accurate and informative Electronic Health Records.
- Increased productivity.
A study found doctors spend 14% of their time on administrative tasks. By implementing automation and AI, clinical staff have opened up their time to spend more of it on patient care.
This will be vital in 2021 to ensure practitioners can give patients the urgent care they need.
5. Patient Engagement Platform
A Patient Engagement Platform (PEP) or Patient Entertainment System (PES) is a digital tool that delivers healthcare education and information at the touch of a button, all from the patient’s own device. It also provides meal ordering, wayfinding, hospital radio, games and so much more, all whilst helping to maintain social distancing.
It also has the following benefits:
- Supports people to live healthier lives
- Promotes emotional well-being to enable healthier living
- Uses innovative digital meal ordering to reduce food waste, streamline kitchen costs and improve the nutritional lifestyles of patients
- Provides effective healthcare education to drive a reduction in readmission rates
- Proven to stimulate and relax patients aiding faster recovery times
To ensure your hospital maintains efficiency throughout 2021, it’s best to evaluate your needs.
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