5 Ways Technology is Transforming the Future of Healthcare

Technological advancements are quickly changing the way we live. Your smart refrigerator might tell you you're out of milk while Alexa reads off the top news headlines. 

Major technological advancements are also happening in the world of healthcare. Here are 5 ways the future of healthcare technology is looking bright! 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI is sure to have a profound impact on healthcare. As the technology becomes more developed and widespread, it’s expected that AI could help diagnose strokes, eye disease, heart disease, skin cancer, and many other conditions. An AI computer program can now diagnose skin cancer more accurately than a board-certified dermatologist. Better yet, the program can do it faster and more efficiently, requiring a training data set rather than a decade of expensive and labor-intensive medical education.

Additionally, AI increases the ability for healthcare professionals to better understand the day-to-day patterns and needs of the people they care for, and with that, understanding they are able to provide better feedback, guidance and support for staying healthy.

Virtual Healthcare

Virtual healthcare, also known as telemedicine, allows patients and doctors to communicate remotely using technology such as video conferencing or mobile apps. Many patients are also becoming comfortable using wearable technology to monitor any changes in their health. In fact, studies show that 53% of people who use health monitors or fitness trackers, like Fitbit or Garmin, say they share their data with their doctors. 

Convenience, ease of use, and travel times are main reasons why patients choose virtual care. On the other side of the coin, many are concerned about the quality of care, or fear a loss of a personal connection with a doctor.

The reality is, if all patients chose virtual healthcare over in office visits, it could save the U.S. health system $7 billion annually. The time savings would “free up” the equivalent of 37,000 doctors. 

Nanomedicine

Nanomedicine is a rapidly evolving field which controls individual atoms and molecules at the extremely minute “nanoscale” of 1 to 100 nanometers. To put that into perspective, if a marble were one nanometer, one meter would be the size of the earth! Whoa! 

Today, nanomedicine is mainly used to effectively diagnose, treat, and prevent various diseases. Compared to conventional medicines, it’s much better at precise targeting and delivery systems, forging the way towards combating complex conditions such as breast cancer.

Tiny, more precise delivery systems will allow doctors to deliver chemotherapy directly to targeted tumors instead of poisoning the entire body. This technology will also allow doctors to reduce the frequency of drug injections by slowing releasing medicine from a single nanoparticle. 

Virtual Reality (VR)

Although it’s normally been associated with entertainment, virtual reality is making waves in healthcare as well. The multi-sensory, immersive experience that VR provides can benefit both physicians and patients in several different ways:

VR can be used to train surgeons in a realistic and low-risk simulated environment. In one study, 93% of radiologists who viewed arteries through 3D VR technology were more confident when diagnosing splenic artery aneurysms. 

VR offers therapeutic potential and rehabilitation for acute pain and anxiety disorders. Immersion into virtual settings has been shown to lower levels of pain and anxiety and have relaxing effects. 

3D Printing

3D printing has come a long way since its debut, especially in its uses in the healthcare industry.  New printers can create medical tools using any buildable material, from plastic to stem cells. The technology offers faster prototypes, creating everything from personalized prosthetics to “poly-pills” at a fraction of the cost.

The customizable aspect of 3D printing is revolutionizing organ transplants and tissue repair, and it’s even able to produce realistic skin for burn victims.

Robot-Assisted Surgery

Robot-Assisted technology allows doctors to perform delicate and complex procedures that might be otherwise impossible. 

Typically, surgeons control a device with a camera and mechanical arms, giving them a high-def view of the surgical site. According to the Mayo Clinic, this method generally enhances precision, flexibility, and control, comes with fewer complications such as infections, and results in less obvious scarring as it is minimally invasive. 

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Summit of Greatness 2019 Recap

My main take away from this incredible experience is how incredibly powerful our minds truly are. We all should use our minds more to achieve greatness. I know that might sound simple or obvious but I don’t just mean our minds in a sense of problem solving, or creativity, or functionality. I mean diving deeper into our mindsets and beliefs.

I truly believe that if you believe something (or convince your mind to believe something) then it will happen. One of my favorite quotes by Marisa Peer, “Your mind doesn’t care if its right or wrong, true or false, good or bad, but whatever you tell it sinks in, so tell it good stuff.” This all leads back to our greatest obstacle which is our own mind and more specifically our limiting beliefs. Of course if you tell yourself every day that you can’t do something then you are conditioning your brain to believe you truly can’t. TOSS THE LIMITING BELIEFS. Instead of letting your mind be your greatest obstacle, let it be your greatest super power!

Repeat after me, “I CAN!” And trust me, you can! I believe you can and you should too.

 I’d like to take a moment to thank all the incredible speakers that donated their time and energy to awaken the Summit of Greatness attendees’ minds.

Don’t mind me, but mind your greatness!

From left to right: Shelby Sanderford, Lewis Howes, Beatriz Boas

From left to right: Shelby Sanderford, Lewis Howes, Beatriz Boas

How Long Will You Wait?

Flash back to New Orleans post Katrina. I had an appointment to see an endocrinologist. I was a new patient. My father had ordered lab tests after I complained of extreme fatigue, swelling, and weight gain. The results showed my thyroid was out of whack and he suggested I make an appointment with one of his buddies in the city to get the correct medication. I couldn’t wait to start treatment and get back to feeling like my energetic self. 

My appointment was for 11:00am. I showed up 30 minutes early to make sure I had the appropriate paperwork completed. I then plopped myself down onto a not so comfortable chair and waited. At noon I checked in to inquire how much longer it would be. I was told the doctor likes to spend as much time as possible with each patient and he was running behind. I appreciated that. Another hour passed. I called my boss and told him I was going to be longer than expected. Another hour passes and I canceled my afternoon meetings. I desperately needed treatment so I felt it necessary to continue to wait. I walked up to the desk again to ask if I was still going to be seen that day. “I’m sorry about the wait ma’am, but since Katrina most of the specialists are gone,” I was told. 

I should have packed a lunch. By 4:00pm I was hungry and angry on one hand but on the other still grateful I was going to receive care that day. Finally at 4:30 I was called back, where I sat for another 30 minutes until I was seen.

If I had been an hourly worker, I may not have been able to stay. That would have been too much time and money lost. If I had children at the time, I would have had to scramble to arrange for childcare that would have cost me money. Or, I would have had to leave to pick them up from school which would have cost me my health. 

Thankfully I was able to wait that day in order to get the care I needed, but I felt for the people that could not. In today’s world of technological advancements and telemedicine, we have better options that save us time and money.

THE WAIT IS OVER: WAITING ROOM WEDNESDAY

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Everyone has experienced the waiting room. You make your appointment, clear your schedule, drive to your doctor, check-in…and wait. It is right there in the name after all. Sometimes your time spent in the waiting room will go by in a matter of minutes and you will barely have time to time to check your phone or the magazine sitting idly on the table. It is not those times that concern us at DOCPACE. We are here for the other times. The times you have been stuck in the waiting room so long that you aren’t sure time has moved at all. We are here for the times your schedule for the rest of the day is ruined and you start to worry that maybe your doctor has forgotten about you.

The good news is that your doctor hasn’t forgotten about you and that they value your time very much. The problem arose from them simply having no adequate tools to help mitigate the unavoidable setbacks that arise daily in the running of a practice. Just one patient needing surgery or extra care can set back the schedule for the entire day and your 10AM appointment just became 10:45AM. That is why we created DOCPACE. So that the doctor can better track the daily occurrences that will affect their schedule and let you know ahead of time.  

As DOCPACE sets out on our journey to improve the wait times we have decided to document stories from the waiting room and just how impactful a bad experience can be. We know that 85% of patients will have to wait anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes past their schedule appointment time but those are just numbers [1]. They don’t tell how that extra wait made you late for an important meeting, or how it kept the staff from doing important paper work that day, or lost the doctor a valued patient who was tired of long waits.

That is why we are starting Waiting Room Wednesday. We want your stories from the waiting room and how a bad experience can impact your life. Whether you are a patient, office staff, or a doctor, we want to know your waiting room story. Because knowing these stories can only help us to improve the waiting room. We don’t need to wait to make it better. We can do it now.

Starting in August we will take weekly submissions for waiting room stories from patients, staff, and doctors. We will post these to our social channels to tell the story of the waiting room and to learn the many ways a bad experience can impact everyone at the practice. We will take what we learn and use it to create a better insight into the waiting room, where problems arise, and how we can better fix them.

  • We will post stories about waiting room experiences to our social channels every Wednesday.

  • You can submit anonymous stories to info@docpace.com, or our social media channels on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

  • Every month until December we will select one submission for a special prize and some well-deserved stress relief.

  • In December, we will take what we have learned and present new insightful data about the waiting room

5 Ways To Improve Your Waiting Room

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“Good things come to those who wait.” Heinz used this line in their commercials back in the 80s to creatively acknowledge the issue of slow moving ketchup. Creative yes, but how glorious was it when they introduced plastic squeeze bottles that stand on their lid? 

Let’s face it, we are living in a world of instant gratification. In some cities drones are delivering online purchases merely hours after a customer clicks buy. This will one day become the norm. In this fast paced world doctors can help patients feel more comfortable when they have do something it seems everyone tries to avoid: wait.  Here are 5 helpful solutions for creating a positive waiting room experience.

  1. Update your Layout and Furniture Style

    Many practice waiting rooms have a similar vibe. You walk in the door to several rows of dark and worn chairs, a coffee table with old magazines, and a television blaring national news or the Price Is Right. Spaces like these aren’t so welcoming and comfortable.

    Consider removing the television. People may associate a negative feeling toward a channel or program they didn’t choose. Perhaps offer some thoughtfully chosen books, or tablets with magazines and newspapers uploaded. This way material is kept fresh and updated.

    Try a cluster of chairs around a coffee table for families and a quiet space for professionals. Offer a child-friendly nook to keep kids entertained. If your practices caters to the elderly provide chairs with arms to assist in standing up.

    The style, material, and color of the furniture you select should reflect your brand. Practices that want to be known for cutting-edge services might select modern furniture with clean lines. Practices that embrace holistic treatment, on the other hand, might opt for neutral colors and natural materials.

  2. Be Transparent

    Build trust and rapport with you patients by alerting them of any delays in their scheduled appointment time.

    Many practices are now opting for screens or kiosks displaying appointment time and delay information. Text updates are also helpful even if the patient is already in route to their appointment. They may have time to run an errand or two on they way.

    If you can reduce a patient’s wait time from 30 mins to 5 mins they are 30% more likely to recommend their provider.

  3. Let your Patients get Stuff Done

    Make waiting active. Offer free WiFi, a small table for laptop use, and don’t forget outlets for device charging.

  4. Offer Small Luxuries

    Consider the power of pampering. Think small coffee bar and mini fridge with assorted beverages and healthy snacks. This extra effort is not lost on patients.

  5. Appoint a Waiting Room Liaison

    People want to feel important and appreciated when they walk into your office. The liaison is someone who knows the patients profiles and situations and greets them when they walk in.

    The liaison assists in checking the patient in, guiding them through any paperwork they may need to complete, and assisting with follow up appointments. You can appoint a current member of your staff or hire a new staff member for this role.