Almost daily, advances in technology change the way we interact with our world. Because of the fast pace of technological advancement, more than ever, employers are seeking job candidates with the most up-to-date training.
The field of medicine is no different. Changes in medical technology are occurring constantly and affect everything, from how patient records are stored to how the most comprehensive surgeries are performed.
Helms College offers three training programs for medical professionals: the Multi-Skilled Medical Assistant program, the Medical Administrative Technician program, and the Patient Care Technician program. Though the job duties for each of these career paths vary, each of these career paths require an understanding of medical technology.
From the Extraordinary to the Ordinary
A Google search of advances in medical technology pulls up exciting and often bizarre innovations around the world. Developments in medical transplants, genetics, and prosthetics are producing life-altering results in the lives of some patients.
Luckily, a vast majority of patients will never need to access many of these highly-specialized forms of medical technology. However, there are other advances being made that will impact the experience of every patient who seeks medical care.
These advances also impact the way that medical professionals, such as those who are trained at Helms College, perform their daily duties. From record management to health monitoring, there are many advances in medical technology that are changing the way everyone from patient care technicians to neurosurgeons are interacting with patients, including the following:
- Electronic health records
- Wireless technology
- Online portals
- Self-service kiosks
- Remote monitoring tools
- Wearable technology
Electronic Health Records
The days of thick medical files with decades-worth of personal information are over. Medical offices and hospitals are now storing health records electronically ¬¬– allowing ease of access, better organization and more reliable storage.
Patient records can be pulled up with a few clicks of a mouse instead of spending valuable time digging around in an old file room. Patients can sign for medical procedures on a tablet with a stylus instead of having to print out page after page of releases. The environmental impact alone makes this an exciting change for the medical industry.
In the busy medical offices and hospitals of today, efficiency is key. Staff need to be able to quickly move from patient to patient. The use of wireless technology in medical settings is allowing for just that. Doctors can wirelessly order a prescription from the phone while still in the exam room. Nurses can pull up resources for patients and print them with the click of a button.
Equipment can also be made wireless, allowing for ease in transporting it from room to room and allowing patients to be as mobile as possible during hospitalizations. Many hospitals now use wireless monitoring during childbirth, allowing women to walk around, rather than being confined to a bed.
For individuals living in rural and remote areas, it can be difficult to access medical specialists. With the rise in telemedicine, inaccessible medicine can be overcome. Patients can see or speak to a doctor often without leaving the comfort of their home or office. This allows them to access care that would otherwise require time-consuming and expensive travel.
The results of telemedicine are quite promising. One study showed that patients in an intensive care unit (ICU) with access to telemedicine services were discharged 20 percent quicker and had a 26 percent lower mortality rate.1
Knowledge is power and, through advances in medical technology, patients are beginning to have the knowledge they need to take charge of their health. Online portals are quickly becoming a way of giving patients access to their own records and test results, and also are allowing for smoother communication between patients and medical staff.
With online portals, patients can quickly get online and schedule appointments. They can pull up their kids’ vaccination or check their most recent lab results. Prior to the development of online portals, these types of requests would have taken days for patients to attain. Now, patients can have this information at their fingertips almost instantaneously.
Online portals often also have a feature that allows patients to email non-urgent questions to their doctor. This frees up phone lines for more urgent matters and allows patients to have a record of their doctor’s recommendations to look back on later.
Self Service Kiosks
As the general public becomes more comfortable with technology, many hospitals and clinics are moving towards self-service kiosks to handle administrative needs such as checking in, signing documents and paying for services. This frees up staff to interact with patients who need additional help.
Remote Monitoring Tools
Many ongoing and serious health conditions used to require regular, expensive visits to the doctor for monitoring. With advances in medical technology, many conditions can now be monitored remotely. Pacemakers, for example, can send data directly to the doctor to be analyzed, saving patients the hassle and expense of going into the doctor’s office to be checked.
With the wealth of data that remote monitoring tools provide, doctors can even alert a patient to a problem before a patient is aware of it themselves.
Doctors aren’t the only ones analyzing health data. With the abundance of wearable technology available today, patients can monitor their own health better than ever. For less than $100, anyone can buy a watch or other device that monitors their heart rate, steps taken in a day, minutes spent being active and sleep patterns.
These devices don’t only collect data. They can be used as motivational tools. Many devices have options to prompt users to get up and walk or engage in other healthy habits. Most connect to a website or smartphone app that allow users to connect and engage in health challenges.
Moving into the Future
If the future of medical technology is something that interests you, a career in the medical field may be the perfect next step. Technology will play a large roll in your next career, whether you are a patient care technician, helping a patient understand the data provided by their wearable technology; a multi-skilled medical assistant keeping track of electronic health records; or a medical administrative assistant, relying on self-service kiosks to help manage a busy office.