Technology in healthcare often seems to change at such a rapid-fire pace that it’s all but impossible to stay informed about the ever-changing advancements in services and products devoted to your health. The Digital Innovation Group at Providence stays current on new and ongoing developments in healthcare technology to find ways to give you the most advanced care available today.
Here’s a look at four healthcare innovations we’re keeping an eye on.
If you are responsible for managing someone’s care, you know all too well how difficult it can be to keep track of the laundry list of tasks that are a regular part of your caregiving duties. Caregiving apps — software designed to run on mobile devices like smartphones or tablets — can help you manage everything from medication schedules to doctor’s appointments.
· Apps like CaringBridge help large groups stay updated on a loved one’s condition and ongoing care.
· Apps like Lotsa Helping Hands help create a sense of community for support and encouragement.
· Apps like eCare21 use wearable devices to provide 24/7 monitoring of blood sugar, heart rate, weight, sleep, activity level and more.
Millions of people live in areas with limited mental health professionals, according to the Bureau of Health Workforce. Even areas with ample access to services may have issues like lack of transportation, time restrictions, or cost that can limit the ability to seek care. Tele-psychiatry, also called telehealth, virtually brings care directly to those in need — regardless of location.
· Care is delivered by phone, live and pre-recorded presentations, and videoconferencing.
· Care is provided in multiple settings including home, school, outpatient clinics, primary care physician offices, correctional institutes, or military treatment facilities.
· Services include psychiatric evaluations, therapy, education, and medication management.
· Research shows tele-psychiatry provides comparable results to care provided face-to-face.
Biometrics uses unique physical characteristics — like your fingerprints, eyes, or face — to verify that you are who you say you are. This innovation has been used by law enforcement and technology for some time but it is currently gaining ground in the healthcare arena because it provides fast, reliable and accurate identification for providers.
· Can include fingerprint scanners, facial recognition tech, iris scanners, and palm vein readers.
· Can authenticate patients and staff (the two most common uses for biometrics, according to a report by the Biometrics Research Group).
· Can access confidential information or monitor medications.
· Can improve efficiency and reduce fraud, which ultimately lowers the cost of safe, effective healthcare.
3D printed prosthetics
3D printing may one day revolutionize the way prosthetics are produced, making them more accessible and affordable than was previously thought possible. 3D printing uses a digital model to print an item in three dimensions — in other words, an actual, usable product. The technology is currently being used to produce prosthetic arms, hands, feet and legs, according to the Amputee Coalition.
· Uses materials such as plastic, metal, and some biological materials.
· Allows full customization to better match the prosthetic wearer’s specific needs and individual anatomy.
· The e-NABLE network is a group that brings designers, engineers, physicians, and amputees together online to share open-source, collaborative designs to make 3D prosthetics available to more people.