Healthcare Technology: What It Is + How It’s Used
Healthcare technology, commonly referred to as “healthtech,” refers to the use of technologies developed for the purpose of improving any and all aspects of the healthcare system. From telehealth to robotic-assisted surgery, our guide will walk you through what it is and how it's being used.
What Is Healthcare Technology?
Healthcare technology refers to any IT tools or software designed to boost hospital and administrative productivity, give new insights into medicines and treatments, or improve the overall quality of care provided. Today’s healthcare industry is a $2 trillion behemoth at a crossroads. Currently being weighed down by crushing costs and red tape, the industry is looking for ways to improve in nearly every imaginable area. That’s where healthtech comes in. Tech-infused tools are being integrated into every step of our healthcare experience to counteract two key trouble spots: quality and efficiency.
The way we purchase healthcare is becoming more accessible to a wider group of people through the insurance technology industry, sometimes called "insurtech." Patient waiting times are declining and hospitals are more efficiently staffed thanks to artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. Even surgical procedures and recovery times are being reduced thanks to ultra-precise robots that assist in surgeries and make some procedures less evasive.
Expanding access to healthcare and improving hospital operations is fantastic, but how exactly are innovators accomplishing this feat? Healthcare technology companies have provided a much-needed jolt of efficiency by tailoring experiences to the individual. These companies realize there's no one-size-fits-all approach to proper care, so customization is key. By personalizing everything from insurance payments to diets and sleep patterns, healthtech companies are amplifying human health and reducing much of the unnecessary strain on the industry.
Healthtech has the potential to trim the fat from our traditional healthcare scene. Skyrocketing costs, unbearable wait times, inefficiencies in drug development and limited access to insurance and healthcare providers are all being improved (or at least addressed) through tech-infused care.
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Healthcare Technology Uses
A whole host of software, tools and applications are making it easier for hospitals to handle their growing administrative workloads. Artificial intelligence is helping administrative teams streamline patient flows by doing everything from accurately calculating wait times to predicting peak busy hours for staff scheduling. Meanwhile, apps are asking patients preliminary questions and prioritizing schedules so doctors can use their time more efficiently.
Surgery has seen some of the biggest improvements in healthtech efficiency and progress over the years. As you read this, robots are assisting with a variety of operations, from minor non-invasive procedures to open heart surgery. These robotic surgical assistants come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from the tiny bot that crawls the surface of the heart to a giant arm that acts as an extra set of hands during procedures.
Robots aren’t the only tech to invade the operating room, though. Virtual and augmented reality are helping doctors and surgeons perform tasks like practicing new surgical techniques to better explaining procedures to patients.
The pharmaceutical industry is leaning on AI and machine learning to power a new wave of drug research and development. These tools are currently being used in a variety of aspects across the industry to help speed up time-consuming tasks like pinpointin g certain chemical combinations that might help create the optimal drug and identifying patients who could best benefit from a particular drug trial.
Fitness is obviously becoming a larger focus of the healthtech ecosystem.The industry has developed hundreds of wearables, apps and other tools that do everything from track our workouts to measure our sleep schedules, all in the name of increasing fitness and reducing preventable costs on the healthcare system.
Diagnostics & Error Reduction
The healthcare industry is now using a variety of tech tools to tackle one of its major problems: incorrect or overdue diagnosis. By infusing tech into genetics, pathology and other important diagnostic fields, healthtech companies have helped detect deadly diseases like cancer earlier and with greater accuracy than relying on humans alone.
Mental health is one of the emerging sectors of healthcare truly benefiting from an influx of technology. Virtual reality is seen as a bright light in the fight against depression, PTSD and even Alzheimers. Through exposure therapy, patients gradually train their brains to build up immunity to past traumas until those thoughts no longer negatively affect them. Additionally, telemedicine apps have made access to counselors and healthcare professionals easier by opening the lines of communication and support, and reducing the need to wait for an in-person appointment during times of duress.