Over the past decade, we have witnessed a radical transformation within the global healthcare industry driven mainly by emerging technologies. We live in an era today where technology is enabling doctors and caregivers to improve healthcare and patients’ quality of life and their experience ultimately.
Omnia Health Insights spoke to Dr. Khaled Aboeldahab, who is the Medical Director at NMC ProVita, to get his take on the wider impact of technology on healthcare delivery as well as its role in the field of rehabilitation.
How is technology reshaping healthcare delivery?
With advances in interconnected medical devices, electronic health records, 3D imaging, telehealth and wearable devices, technology today is making the delivery of healthcare more efficient and more effective. Technology has made it possible for patients to use portable devices to monitor their vital signs, use portable oxygen machines, get diagnosis remotely and achieve tasks that they couldn’t do before.
Telehealth apps, for example, can reduce the need for patients to travel thousands of miles to visit a doctor. Mobile diagnostics, which allows health professionals to send test results from the field, would give citizens in remote areas access to speciality care professionals in other countries in real-time.
Also, the convergence of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) is helping deliver instant access to patient information, derive insights from patients’ data and behaviour, which is dramatically helping improve patient treatment and experience.
How does technology impact the field of rehabilitation?
We are witnessing the same transformation in rehabilitation centres. Technology today is being implemented to improve patient’s quality of life, allowing patients to do tasks that they cannot do because of certain disabilities or degenerative diseases. Post-acute rehabilitation is typically a temporary stopping place on a patient’s journey home from the Intensive Care Unit. The goal of the rehabilitation centre is to help patients achieve cognitive, physical and speech therapies depending on their case and needs, help improve their quality of life and lead an independent life as much as they can.
Digital technologies, for example, provide an opportunity to move musculoskeletal care to the heart of value-based healthcare. The technologies we have today, and those I see emerging from start-ups, are more than capable of changing musculoskeletal care.
These digital tools contribute to the promise of value-based healthcare – improving patient outcomes while allowing greater cost-effectiveness. Digital health has to deliver both of these elements if it is to be adopted widely.
Dr. Khaled Aboeldahab
Can you give some real-life examples of how technology is used in rehabilitation?
Think of rehabilitation after a knee or hip replacement. The six weeks after surgery are crucial to the patients’ quality of life after they recover. A major challenge, particularly in older patient populations, is patient compliance with physiotherapy.
One of the solutions is to use wearable devices with sensors that give biofeedback to patients on whether they are bending their knee correctly or whether their mobility has improved. It can become like a “game”, making them more likely to stick to exercising.
Another key modern technology that we have allows paralysed patients to control their surrounding environment through glasses or computers. Eye-tracking and gaze interaction-based Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices that help improve the lives of individuals with disabilities by enabling them to communicate, control their environment and gain greater independence through their eyes.
As patients become more conscious consumers of healthcare, how is this changing the way healthcare is delivered?
The consumerisation of medical information has also changed the landscape of patients today. Now with mobile devices at their fingertips, patients are more empowered than ever before. Phone applications is a great example of how technology is helping seniors and caregivers. Using a smartphone, seniors, for example, can keep track of their medication, heart rate, and location in case a patient has memory loss.
These are just few examples from the vast benefits that technology is enabling rehabilitation centres. We are already seeing the adoption of these latest technologies here in the UAE, and patients are experiencing how technology is helping transform their lives.