There are numerous challenges facing the healthcare industry today, both globally and regionally, but there are also immense opportunities in properly leveraging advanced technologies. Providers are asked to do more and more with less time, and they’re rapidly getting burnt out, with many unfortunately leaving the field altogether. At the same time, patients deserve a future where every individual has access to high-quality care — where and when they need it.
Technology developers, however, can step in with the tools and resources to help healthcare providers do their jobs more effectively and allow them to focus or spend more time on clinical operations. For example, with sensing technology, data can be captured and harnessed for predictive insight into healthcare delivery.
The past few years have presented a myriad of trials for already-stretched health systems, and over the next few years, the healthcare industry is expected to face an even greater surge in demand coupled with more rigorous cost-control pressures. According to the 2020 Profile of Older Americans, there will be about 80.8 million people older than 65 in the United States by 2040, more than twice as many as in 2000. Those older than 65 are more likely to have chronic diseases than younger populations, so we must optimise health systems to support this group who will require greater medical care. In some Middle East countries, including the Gulf Cooperation Council, (GCC) there is a moderate rate of ageing, whereby older people will have the same share of the population as young people between 2030 and 2060.
Currently, there is increasing access to emerging technologies to help address today’s most pressing health and wellness challenges, which will help streamline care delivery processes.
The top things that can be done to improve and reform the health and wellness industry include:
- Pave the way for the advancement of delivering care at home. By treating patients in their homes or anywhere outside of the hospital walls, we can free up beds for emergency patients and reduce costs.
- Address the critical clinician shortage by making their jobs easier and more efficient through sensors and patient monitoring technology. Solutions like bed management systems and integrated nurse call systems help increase the bandwidth of doctors, nurses and caregivers.
- Advance drug delivery methodologies. One in three adults have pre-diabetes, but more than 80 per cent of that population don’t know they are pre-diabetic. More younger patients will require insulin over the next few decades, and innovations around drug delivery to infuse medications into the human body will be critical.
- Align regulatory policy to enable easier adoption of emerging technology into the healthcare space, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.
As we look toward the future of healthcare delivery, patient well-being needs to be the focus, no matter where patients are on the continuum of care — from preventive interventions, and diagnoses, to rehabilitation and treatment. Whether in the hospital, at an ancillary health centre for chronic conditions such as at dialysis centres, or if patients are receiving care at home, they should have access to high-quality care enabled by technology to help aid the recovery process.
The healthcare industry has historically been slow to adopt new processes and technologies compared to other industries due to the sensitive nature of health information and the many regulations around healthcare. The industry will benefit from a focus on investing in productivity solutions to enable clinicians to be more efficient and treat more patients, especially as the pool of individuals needing care continues to grow.
The democratisation of healthcare data is a key component in shifting the industry towards a more proactive healthcare approach. Bringing technology closer to the patient, either ‘in-home’ or ‘mobile,’ will help make healthcare data more available and accessible to patients, helping identify health problems that may need to be addressed so patients can take action at an earlier stage.
Charbel Rizkallah is the Senior Healthcare Director at Honeywell Sensing & Safety Technologies.