Innovative smart technology continues to cut out the middle man across industries. One of the latest examples is in healthcare, where hospitals, clinics and small healthcare providers are turning increasingly to provide more efficient, accurate and comprehensive care to their patients.
While, for some individuals, nothing can replace the warmth and personal touch offered by their family doctor or friendly physician, smart technology can still be a useful tool in getting through the tedious paperwork involved before the meeting happens. It can also help patients give accurate updates on their own health changes.
For those who are uncomfortable with technology, real employees will always be ready to assist. But for others, a virtual option can eliminate exasperation while they await treatment, and should be considered for small healthcare providers looking to progress.
The use of smart healthcare technology "is becoming more mainstream," Dr. Dick Wuest, emeritus professor of pharmacy at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine told Fox News. "For healthcare, it is vital that the information is "accurate, easily understood and easy to access."
The virtual waiting room
At Impact Urgent Care in San Antonio, Texas, owner Linda Ratner and her husband were growing frustrated with their inability to effectively manage patient flow, according to InformationWeek. Patients' needs required different time and attention levels from the physicians. Fair and accurate scheduling became nearly impossible, even after rolling out a program in which the office called patients when their appointments neared. Human error, especially during peak hours, was impossible to avoid.
So the Ratners turned to mobile scheduling program QLess, which allows patients to check in with the office from home, work, or anywhere else, and receive notification through the program when the office is almost ready to see them.
"When we open the new clinics, patients will see the queues on the Internet and will be able to see which one they'll want to go to, based on the queue ahead of them. It's been good for our staff, our patients love it, and we love it," Ratner told InformationWeek. "For us, it lets us know what the day's going to look like. For the patient, it gives them the ability to get their life back."
As a result, patient satisfaction ratings improved by 20 percent, while patient volume expanded to 50 per day from 30 per day in September 2013.
Faster care to those who need it most
New technology can also help healthcare providers prioritize patients with urgent needs, while saving time and hassle for those who require a minor at-home remedy, InformationWeek explained.
At the University of California San Diego Medical Center, officials have deployed the Geneva Healthcare Suite – a tool that consolidates and manages information from cardiac devices across manufacturers. By monitoring patients' devices, like pacemakers, nurses and physicians can determine whether there is an imminent need or a simple adjustment.
Meanwhile, Ohiohealth's Stroke Network allows patients suffering a stroke to access a specialist from any of the 21 partnered health departments across the state – regardless of whether not a stroke specialist is physically present.
The technology offers two-way audio and video communication between patients and specialists located in other hospitals, and allows remote diagnosis and aid, saving patients' valuable time and avoiding prolonged discomfort or risk. It also benefits the hospitals, who can keep more of their own patients without clogging their large counterparts.
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