Technology is often seen as something to keep us entertained. Sometimes it’s considered as an educational tool, whilst other times it’s used as a way of broadening our experiences. But did you know that the iPhone in your pocket and your tablet in your bag could save your life?
It may seem like a farfetched notion, but it is the case. Thanks to hospitals relying on the advancement of our smart technology, doctors and nurses can now use these devices to help avert medical crises before they emerge. But how is this technology helping our medical professionals save lives?
Personalised Medicine and its Benefits
A term that’s been coined with the growth of smartphones and tablets, along with health based applications. Personalised medicine is the mobile tracking and measurement of an individual’s health which is often done with a mobile device, like a smartphone or tablet.
This can account for anything from simply tracking your heart rate down to gathering information about somebody’s allergies and other conditions within an app for easy reference.
Your smartphone isn’t the only device that’s getting into the act either, with the explosion in fitness trackers also offering a way of keeping tabs on your measurements without requiring you to visit your local GP.
Some of the most well-known brands include FitBit and Jawbone, both of which have become a part of a trend which is unknowingly keeping us from hospital beds across the country.
Also, the growing use of ‘at home’ medical equipment, like blood pressure monitors has continued to add to this trend.
This ensures that as patients we now know more than we ever have done about our physical well-being, letting us keep information about details like this before even setting foot in your local hospital or GPs’ practice.
Over a fifth of adults now keep an eye on their health via fitness trackers in the US and UK, helping record details like heart rates, blood pressure and sleeping patterns
This means that the data can be used to help medical professionals diagnose a condition without being forced to go through timely procedures to gather this information when you visit. Also, it helps you improve your personal experience when visiting the GP as it should help reduce waiting times, something which over 40% of patients complained about over the past year.
How Apps can Save Your Life
It’s not all about doing the work yourself, you know? If you’ve been admitted to hospital, technology now plays a major part in your treatment plan, with apps beginning to lead the way for doctors and nurses alike.
Whatsapp for Doctors
Medxnote is one firm that is working around the clock to supply an app that guarantees to help you get treated more efficiently, by putting an end to the reliance on pagers within the health sector. Creating an app much like Whatsapp, the Medxnote app allows doctors and nurses to communicate securely, whilst also offering the potential to take pictures of wounds and other conditions to help specialists prepare a plan before giving you a full examination.
The app itself has already been trialled this year and has seen success, so much so that the clinic which piloted the scheme wants to make it the mandatory way to send patient information between medical professionals.
Whilst some patients will obviously be hesitant of having their details sent over such a platform, it definitely makes more sense than sending the same information through less secure apps like Viber, something which isn’t completely unheard of if some rumours are to be believed.
Another app which is also promising to improve your quality of care when in the hospital is Triton, which is being made use of during operations. The app uses the camera which comes along with tablets to help confirm the amount of blood that’s been lost by looking at equipment like surgical sponges.
Once the app sees the equipment, it gives a rough estimation of how much blood has been absorbed by the said piece of kit, allowing for surgeons to be more accurate when it comes to blood transfusions. Not only does this ensure that you’re kept topped up with that vital bodily fluid, but it also guarantees that extra blood bags aren’t wasted as well.
So, whilst hardware is important, it seems that apps are just as important when it comes to technology and our healthcare…
The Growth of Telehealth
Telehealth is a pretty simple idea; it’s a way of providing healthcare to patients via a remote platform. So, if you happen to be on a family holiday and fall ill, it could help you see your GP before you head home, to help provide you with some advice as how to recover.
This isn’t something that’s widely available by any means, but it’s certainly on the way up, and could be a way to further reduce waiting times at GP clinics.
In fact, tests of the service have proven that the idea helps reduce hospital admissions for those who can’t secure a regular appointment with their GP. One recent study showed that there was a 20% cut in emergency admissions to hospital, whilst there was also a 14% cut in elective admissions – something which could save the NHS over £1.2bn over five years.
This isn’t to say we’d all be getting our aches and pains checked out via a webcam consultation with our GP, but it could help with care home residents who often find themselves in and out of the doctors more regularly.
Telehealth has the potential to save the NHS £1.2bn over five years if implemented across the UK, by cutting around 20% of all admissions to hospitals…
This was also proven after a GP’s practice in Bradford cut visits to a car home by 70% thanks to the implementation of mobile consultations.
Of course, physical exams won’t be able to be transferred through our iPads, so you can expect these visits to keep going as normal. But for repeat visits to check up on a condition, you could soon see your doctor from the comfort of your sofa.
The End of Paper…
Technology has made plenty of things redundant in numerous sectors, and now it’s threatening the hospital charts which are so often spotted at the end of beds.
In fact, this redundancy has already begun, with hospitals across the country favouring tablet style devices over charts. Communicating with each other over a private hospital network, these high-tech devices can get real-time patient information from a nurses station right down to the doctors in charge of your treatment, ensuring that everyone is kept up to date with a patient’s condition at all times.
The devices also have the ability to track the performance of the measurements to know if someone is deteriorating. It will then notify nurses to check up more regularly on this patient and even call an emergency response if things take a bad turn.
The software which does this is called Vital PAC, and records blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels and much more, ending the usefulness of paper charts, which are sometimes hard to read and occasionally misplaced.
Following its trial period the service was a proven success, helping to reduce mortality rates in two hospitals by 15%, saving 800 lives in the process. This has now been tipped to spread across the entire NHS, effectively saving more lives in an efficient and much more easy to use fashion.
So, the next time you use your smartphone, take some time to remember that it isn’t only useful for keeping you in touch with your loved ones. In fact, it could be keeping them around for longer…
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