If something doesn't feel right, you go to the doctor. But sometimes there can be a long wait for an appointment or the symptoms have disappeared once you get there but reappear when you're back at home. How should these situations be handled?
The answer may lie in some of the latest — and smallest— innovations in healthcare tech. The doctor-patient relationship has been transformed with the use of miniature devices that mean care is no longer confined to the hospital or clinic. Being able to identify problems right away through continuous or remote monitoring can make all the difference in the effectiveness of care.
Smaller Devices in Healthcare Tech
Today, it's quite common to see your friends and family wearing a fitness tracker on their wrists that monitors sleep and activity. Now research in healthcare tech has made it possible for small devices to monitor and help treat several chronic conditions such as Parkinson's, heart diseases and diabetes as well. There are plenty of reasons to consider this sort of regular monitoring.
Visiting a doctor can take a long time, which can be stressful and may lead to undue delays. In a study by Harvard Medical School, researchers found that the average total visit time for a person seeking care for themselves, a child, or another adult was 121 minutes, which included travel. Of those, people spent only 20 minutes with a physician. Technology is coming up the curve to help bridge these gaps between patient-doctor interactions so these few minutes aren't the only determinants in a patient's treatment. There are the solutions which allow for greater connectivity irrespective of physical proximity via body-worn, smaller devices.
An insertable cardiac monitor, is placed below the skin right above the area where the heart is, in a minimally invasive procedure. It can continuously monitor the heartbeat to detect signs of arrhythmia, or irregular beating of the heart, and atrial fibrillation, or an irregular, rapid heartbeat which could lead to poor blood flow. The monitor comes with wireless technology, which means that you can easily transmit the heart data to your phone as well as to a system that is accessible by your doctor.
Smaller devices like these can be life-saving and save time or resources that are otherwise spent on going to the hospital for regular check-ups. If you or someone you love has a chronic condition or is older, this kind of healthcare tech that does continuous monitoring can provide a huge sense of relief. For up to two years after placement, the device continuously monitors your heart rhythm, allowing your doctor to more easily and accurately diagnose an irregular heartbeat. Accordingly, the doctor may suggest changes that need to be made to prescription and lifestyle modifications.
Reforming the Doctor-Patient Relationship
Smaller, innovative devices have the potential to change the traditional doctor-patient relationship. With constant monitoring, a doctor can check in and consult with a user without the need for a visit. This is especially significant for persons with health conditions who don't need care from a hospital but do want regular feedback about their health. This benefits hospitals and clinics, too, because staff there will have more time to treat those who need more urgent and critical care.
The future of healthcare tech is all about smaller devices and regular monitoring. These devices could change how treatment is provided and could be revolutionary. Perhaps in the future, they will have the ability to monitor the health of space scientists and members of the armed forces, to detect stress levels at work, to keep track of the health of athletes or to help those living with general anxiety disorder or other mental illnesses.
As for right now, the improved quality of life, care and convenience that these devices provide continue to make it easier to live a healthy life.
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