Pandemic-induced innovation: How new technologies have transformed healthcare forever

Spurred by COVID-19, humanity’s relationship with technology has evolved from one of convenience to one of necessity.

It’s been an adjustment, but healthcare’s rapid uptake of new technologies is resulting in greater efficiency, more accurate data and improved delivery of healthcare services.

As we turn to the future, one thing is clear: these technologies are here to stay.

So let’s explore three tech trends that are sweeping the healthcare sector – and will only continue to.

Trend 1: Contactless technologies

Donning face masks and PPE and sanitising surfaces quickly became essential practices when the pandemic hit. But it’s easy to forget to wipe down a door handle here and there. To sidestep human error and minimise the spread of illness, contactless access is the new gold standard.

Commonly referred to as ‘touchless entry’, contactless access is the ability for a person to access rooms, restricted areas and other areas in a facility without touching a thing.

This technology is not new. It existed long before the pandemic (you’ve probably been walking through automatic sliding doors in supermarkets for years without a second’s thought). But, since the onset of the pandemic, it’s become a lot more of a necessity – and therefore widespread – especially in medical facilities. For a key reason: hygiene.

A door that slides open using infrared technology or Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a more hygienic alternative to dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of hands touching the same door handle day in day out.

For example, IDEMIA’s MorphoWave™ gates allow access to authorised personnel and visitors with a swipe of their hand, as does Wilson Security’s access solution.

But access isn’t all that’s gone contactless.

Contactless thermometers to record the temperatures of visitors to healthcare facilities are now commonplace. Some, like Alpha First Aid’s thermometers, are handheld, infrared devices that measure temperatures from up to 5cm away.

Others, like Athena Security’s walkthrough thermal scanners, record visitors’ temperatures as they (you guessed it) walk through the device – not unlike security screeners in airports.

Trend 2: Remote monitoring

With the accelerated uptake of Internet of Medical Things technology (IoMT), we’re now seeing devices that allow doctors to monitor patients outside clinics or hospitals.

Remote monitoring devices include continuous glucose monitors, heart rate monitors, electrocardiography (ECG) devices and even the humble Fitbit.

These wearable devices allow doctors to monitor chronic diseases like diabetes, and even remind the user to take their insulin when they need to.

Or, in the case of an ECG device, detect the early signs of a cardiac arrest.

But they don’t only monitor conditions or send alerts. They also provide doctors with accurate, all-important data – in real time.

Doctors are increasingly time poor, so the ability to monitor patients outside of their offices and facilities is a significant advancement.

Trend 3: Secure key automation

Doctors aren’t the only healthcare professionals who are time poor. With patient capacity at an all-time high, nurses, security guards, reception staff and others in hospitals are now even more stretched than usual.

Technology has helped to streamline their workflow by removing clunky, time-consuming processes from their day-to-day activities.

Torus’s electronic key cabinets are just one example.

Manual key processes suck up a lot of time in every sector. But they’re particularly arduous in environments where the stakes – and stress levels – are so high.

Torus automates processes in hospitals and other medical facilities by allowing management to assign keys to authorized personnel and sending reminders to their smartphones when keys need to be returned.

Torus also minimises the risk of keys going missing by always keeping them on-site. Stored in designated cabinets at designated locations, keys are far safer in the hands of technology than they are in the hands of people.

When multiple copies of multiple keys are being passed between personnel or taken off-site each day, the risk of a security breach balloons. And when expensive, life-saving equipment and drugs are on premises that becomes a frightening prospect.

For these reasons, electronic key cabinets are a boon for security and efficiency. But critically, also for hygiene.

Using Torus, facility managers can assign keys to specific personnel, and alter those permissions according to who needs them. That means users don’t need to meet face to face to collect keys.

This creates far fewer opportunities for illness to travel between people. But Torus’s software also keeps a record of who has what keys, and who has used them in the past. These records are easily accessible – which also aids contract tracing.

Looking ahead: a cleaner, smoother future for healthcare

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