Most of us take for granted our ability to go to a hospital and receive whatever treatment we require to get better. We’re so used to the technologies in hospitals and other healthcare establishments that it’s hard to remember what life was like without them.
It wasn’t so long ago, however, that the hospital environment was a very different place. Technology has helped scientists and doctors to revolutionise the way patients are treated for illness, through faster diagnosis, improved medication and easier communication.
Here are seven of the key technologies hospitals couldn’t live without today:
1. Online medical records
Love it or hate it, everything we know will soon find its way online. There’s no need for doctors to rifle through years’ worth of a patient’s paper notes when they could simply search a keyword and bring up the information they need online, saving time and making diagnosis a much simpler process.
Whether they’re used for monitoring a patient’s vital signs, delivering oxygen or providing information during surgery, medical sensors are an essential piece of hospital equipment. Technological advancements are even now allowing us to take the sensor out of a hospital setting, and patients can wear portable devices for remote monitoring.
Working Wi-Fi is essential for almost every existing business in the world nowadays, and it’s all the more vital in a hospital setting. Wi-Fi can enable speedy communication both internally and externally, and can literally make the difference in a life or death situation. Instant messaging and other forms of communication have replaced older technologies like buzzers and beepers for more direct, personal interaction between doctors and nurses.
Automation can be used for a wide range of hospital tasks to make what would otherwise be slow, time-wasting processes much quicker and more efficient. Everything from admission processes and hospital transfers to documentation of patient records and medication can be automated for safer and faster processing, saving medical staff time and reducing the risk of slip-ups.
5. Artificial intelligence
Mention artificial intelligence and it conjures up the image of some otherworldly futuristic robot – but AI is already a relied-upon technology in the majority of hospitals. Artificial intelligence is used to assist in numerous healthcare practices, from diagnosis and treatment, to patient monitoring and care, drug development, and personalised medication.
6. Portable computers
Portability is key in a medical environment, where equipment and technologies need to be able to follow the patient around a hospital setting as required. The days of bulky static computers are well and truly in the past, and their replacements – portable laptops and tablets – offer a much more efficient and convenient means of patient treatment and communication.
When it comes down to it, some of the most relied-upon technology in hospitals is that which has been around since what feels like the beginning of time. There is no more appropriate setting for a defibrillator than a hospital, and many will have hundreds, if not thousands, within easy access, for if a medical emergency should arise.