What is Healthcare Technology?

Alex Deane
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Healthcare technology can be defined as any technology used in a healthcare setting. This includes everything from IT operations and medical devices to software, artificial intelligence, machine learning, wearable technology, and even cloud-based tools.

Today, virtually no aspect of the healthcare system hasn’t been impacted by technology. The processing, storing, and exchanging of data has shifted to a digital environment, bringing both vital benefits to patient care and creating new challenges.

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The importance of technology in healthcare

Technology plays a critical role in the quality of care delivered to patients. From improving how tools are used to making care more accessible, it directly impacts how fast illnesses can be detected and how accurate diagnoses are. Investing in healthcare technology innovations is imperative to better enabling care providers to solve health problems, ultimately enriching the lives of their patients.

Benefits of healthcare technology

The introduction of healthcare technology in modern medicine has made a truly dramatic impact in patient care. Healthcare providers can deliver improved results with increased accuracy, better track patient data both asynchronous and in real-time, and synchronize treatment plans and other important notes between providers. 

Improved healthcare delivery for patients and providers 

Healthcare technology delivers benefits across the healthcare system. It allows easier access to data for both patients and care providers. Patients can access their data instantly through an online portal or app instead of calling their doctor’s office. Doctors can monitor a patient’s condition or treatment plan progress remotely. And the data they’re accessing is more detailed than ever before, allowing for faster, more accurate diagnoses and more personalized care.

Increased diagnostic accuracy for improved treatment plans

Better technology leads to higher diagnostic accuracy, speed, and accessibility. With more intelligent systems and devices, providers can identify anomalies or illnesses sooner than they could otherwise. On top of this, patient data can be more logically filtered and intuitively presented to care providers, enabling them to make more informed decisions, improving treatment plans, recovery times, and dramatically increasing results. 

Better tracking of patient data leads to improved results 

Most patient data is now collected electronically and stored digitally via Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) or Electronic Health Records (EHRs). This has helped eliminate the errors associated with manual and paper-based methods such as illegible handwriting or misread instructions. Now, care providers can better track patient data and receive alerts to issues like improper dosage, incompatible medication, or duplicate prescriptions. Improved data tracking also allows providers to quickly react to changes in patient health and execute alternate treatment plans as needed. 

Streamlined collaboration between care providers

Digitally stored patient data means a patient’s full care team, from primary doctors to specialists to medical billers, can all access their information. Providers can now see other providers’ notes and prescriptions with the click of a button, from anywhere at any time. If they notice issues or have questions, they can easily connect with other providers to ensure their treatment plans are in alignment. 

Challenges associated with healthcare technology

A medical professional working using a laptop
Source: fizkes/Shutterstock.com

For all of its many benefits, there are still challenges associated with implementing start-to-finish healthcare technology stack. The biggest challenges revolve around implantation costs, especially in facilities that utilize legacy software that may not be compatible with modern systems. Privacy and data security are also a major concern with patients’ health data. 

Costs to implement a modern healthcare technology strategy can be daunting

Cost is often the biggest barrier to implementing healthcare technology. Implementation costs can be expensive, especially for smaller providers. New technology can also require new hardware like laptops or tablets and ongoing costs like subscription fees, IT support, or managing data servers. There are also non-monetary costs associated with implementing new technology like taking the time to find and test a new system or training office staff and care providers on how to use it.

For healthcare, data privacy and safety is paramount

The proliferation of technology in the healthcare industry has intensified concerns about the privacy and security of patient data. Stringent requirements and regulations surround how providers can store and share data, such as HIPAA compliance which requires that technology has properly secured channels to ensure patient confidentiality. This can hinder the flow of data and make it more challenging to adopt new technologies. 

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) trends in healthcare have also created new security vulnerabilities. As telehealth has grown, an increasing number of personal devices are being used to access patient data and more and more medical devices are being connected to the internet. 

Although these bring added benefits to patient care, they also create an increased need for network visibility and monitoring to prevent malicious attacks.

Compatibility with legacy software

While you’ll eventually benefit from the features of modern tools, upgrading to newer technology will inevitably complicate things. Legacy systems or devices might not be compatible with the newer systems you’re trying to implement. Integration issues can lead to IT support costs, operational disruptions, and data loss or vulnerability.

Resistance to change

With high costs, complex requirements, and skepticism about the efficacy of new solutions, many healthcare organizations are slow to adopt new technologies. As the technology they choose directly impacts the critical, and sometimes life-saving, care they deliver, they need assurance it won’t impede or complicate patient care before implementing anything new. Just as the right technology can bring in critical benefits, poor technology can have devastating consequences.

This is all in addition to the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality that many long-time providers deal with. New healthcare technologies mean learning new systems and processes, and while they may be more efficient, accurate, and secure in the long term, can slow processes down and frustrate less tech-savvy users in the short term. 

The future of healthcare technology

Graphic representing healthcare technology types
Source: Jackie Niam/Shutterstock.com

As technology progresses, healthcare will see massive benefits. Advanced in things like artificial intelligence and machine learning will have meaningful impacts on diagnostic integrity and surgical accuracy. Remote visits will continue to become more prolific. Wearable technology will further remote patient monitoring for many illnesses, and also help healthy patients catch potential problems before (like heart arrhythmias) before they become serious issues. 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are paving the way for improved diagnostic accuracy

AI and ML are increasingly being used to analyze and create predictions based on medical data. This technology can be used to assist medical professionals with tasks across healthcare, like imaging analysis or drug research and discovery. As a result, doctors can increase the accuracy of their diagnostics and provide preventative treatment plans to patients. 

Telehealth and remote visits have dramatically increased availability and patient comfort

Before telehealth, patient care was often hindered or prevented by obstacles like cost and distance. Connected devices and remote technology were able to offer a solution, delivering new ways for medical professionals and patients to connect. With access to medical services from anywhere, patients can now get the care they need sooner and at a lower cost. This trend shows no signs of slowing as more and more healthtech devices are being created to help patients get continued access to exceptional care regardless of circumstances. 

Wearable technology and remote patient monitoring for long-term and real-time tracking

Wearable technology has made clinic-level care possible no matter the distance between patient and provider. Doctors can now monitor a patient’s vitals from afar, and continuously. This has had a huge impact on things like diabetic care, where patients can monitor glucose levels in real-time and data can be regularly delivered to providers. The benefits are also notable in elderly care, providing lower cost round-the-clock care for those who live alone or are without a caretaker. These devices can also collect more in-depth patient data, enabling doctors to create hyper-personalized care plans.

Your healthtech devices need oversight, and we have the solution

Your healthtech devices shouldn’t get in the way of delivering quality patient care. Whether you’re managing kiosks or tablets or remote patient monitoring devices, Esper can give you the granular control to ensure your devices are always available, always secure, and always up-to-date.

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Image source: elenabsl/Shutterstock.com

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Alex Deane
Alex Deane

Alex is a Content Marketing Manager with 7+ years experience in content creation, creative direction, and project management for tech companies. When it comes to writing about technology, she prioritizes on making complicated topics easier to understand and fully believes that tech writing doesn't have to be boring.

Alex Deane
Learn about Esper mobile device management software for Android and iOS
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