Technology’s contributions toward safety in healthcare

[ This article was originally published here ]

This blog was written by an independent guest blogger.

Technology in healthcare has the potential to make all the difference in terms of safety outcomes. Right now, modern tech is pushing the envelope of what is possible in the doctor’s office and the patient’s home, as telehealth and artificial intelligence transform the landscape of medical care.

But technology isn’t always safe. Experts predict that the healthcare industry will face two to three times more cyberattacks than other industries, making cybersecurity an essential aspect of modern medicine. As we watch ransomware and other malicious cyberattacks disrupt global trade, it’s easy to remember a world less vulnerable to digital threats.

However, technology ultimately is doing more good than bad in healthcare. Tech’s contributions toward safety have revolutionized care accessibility, reach, and potential. In turn, we can look forward to safer treatments and better patient outcomes.

These are some of the most promising contributions of tech in producing more excellent healthcare safety.

Connecting patients with accessible care

Telehealth has been a central aspect of modern care, bridging the needs of patients with safe solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth has proven to be immensely popular, with 65% of consumers now expecting to use it more even after the pandemic. This widespread utilization of telehealth would have been impossible without advancing technology.

Innovations from 5G networks to Internet of Things (IoT) devices are transforming how we connect and assemble data networks, in turn enabling new medical solutions. These innovations power information systems, a market expected to reach $39.7 billion in value by 2025. The value comes in through the power of these systems to collect, categorize, and assess information — all vital parts of any healthcare procedure.

Information systems and the experts that manage them both create and protect vast amounts of valuable healthcare data. With all this information stored and secured through cloud services, patients can be monitored and treated remotely.

For instance, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research is developing web-based sensors on the Internet of Things that can track and report patient movement data and measure severity. This will allow medical professionals to gain a better understanding of their patient’s condition and how to treat it.

By connecting people with care wherever they are, tech is contributing to a safer world. Telehealth means patients don’t have to risk exposure to COVID-19 as often. Information systems are connecting patients and providers with data. And connected devices are improving medical understanding.

The more data care providers have, the better equipped they are to give patients accessible solutions designed to meet their personal needs.

Enhancing diagnostic and treatment potential

When it comes to improving safety, few technological innovations have contributed more than artificial intelligence. This category of computing now allows for all kinds of incredible processes, from machine learning to predictive analytics. AI has enhanced the medical field, given surgeons a useful tool, and revolutionized diagnostic potential.

The power of AI comes in its ability to assist us in our most grueling tasks. For instance, AI has given surgeons robotic assistants like the Da Vinci Surgical System. This robot gives the surgeon magnified vision and built-in tremor filtration that makes any surgery a more risk-free process. With these features, Da Vinci has already enhanced the safety of more than seven million procedures.

AI also excels in diagnosing conditions. CureMetrix in San Diego, for example, has developed a system that assists radiologists in analyzing mammograms. Their tech uses machine learning algorithms paired with computer vision to compare imagery. From its database of examples, the system can then detect breast cancer up to six years earlier than a human professional with as much as a 70% reduction in false positives.

With such promising safety features built into the technological revolution, the health and well-being of humanity can only improve. This might make our bodies safer, but what about our data?

Fortunately, tech has answers for that, too.

Improving security standards

Technology has given the healthcare industry a plethora of safety improvements. The benefits are clear from more equitable, accessible care to electronic medical records like those that helped scientists track and combat the coronavirus. At the same time, however, connected databases of valuable medical data represent a big risk.

This is where AI comes in. Through machine learning functions, AI cybersecurity systems are capable of comparing calls on operating systems to search for anomalies. If a problematic instance is found, the system can classify and flag the call, allowing system administrators to lock out the offender.

Fortunately, the advancement of AI has only improved these functions. Machine learning means systems can analyze vast amounts of data sets, evaluate examples of malicious attacks, and adapt to fight them. In turn, the security of medical data is enhanced.

Additionally, blockchain technology is emerging as a powerful contender in the battle for cybersecurity. These decentralized data systems lock information behind linked cryptographic hash functions. This means that for a hacker to break in, they have to use serious computing power. For storing and recording medical data safely, blockchain just might be the future.

These are just a tiny fraction of the contributions technology has made in healthcare. In the future, cloud data systems, AI diagnostics, and blockchain will all play a larger role in promoting public safety. Accessibility and quality of care will improve as a result.

For now, the role of tech in healthcare cybersecurity is one to watch. Machine learning and blockchain will battle it out for the position of the biggest contributor to healthcare safety. Whichever wins, humanity is the better for it.

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