Different types of technologies and how they improve workflow

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Nimra Ishfaq, a medical student from Pakistan. She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Merriam Webster dictionary defines Technology as “a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge.”(1) New Technologies in healthcare can help to fill the workforce gap by providing efficient means of accomplishing tasks. This in turn will improve the quality of healthcare and alleviate the social and economic burden on society.

Technologies that can improve workflow and make up for the workforce gap include:

Telesitting: is an example of how live video can be used to monitor several patients. The most common telesitting technology includes two-way audio and one-way visuals. Sitters can monitor remotely or from a central location within a health system. It is especially useful for senior care. It allows one nurse to manage several patients allowing their fellow coworkers to do various other tasks. They can talk to patients if needed, deploy automated responses in different languages and ring an alarm if a patient needs immediate help. An organization no longer needs to hire a sitter for each patient room. Organization of files, administrative tasks and management can all be done by Nurses without the threat of burnout allowing them to practice at the top of their license.(2)

Telehealth: is a way to provide healthcare remotely by means of telecommunications technology. This is helpful in areas which are further away from hospitals and clinics such as rural areas and villages. It connects rural providers and their patients to services at a distant site. These services can be provided by websites, applications, and tools that can be conveniently accessed via mobile phone, computer, or tablets. These applications can be used to forward questions, photographs, and test results to the physician. Direct telephone calls can be made as well as video conferences. Physicians can remotely monitor patients and prescribe or dispense medicine. The need for urgent care or minor procedures requiring surgical intervention can be assessed remotely. (3)
Block chain Credentialing: is a process by which the proper qualifications of healthcare providers can be ensured. It assesses health training, licensure, and ability to provide direct patient care. Organizations are contacted to authenticate the information and document verification is done. These include state license, board certification, previous education, on-going training as well as hospital affiliation. This technology stores data on many servers instead of one central server. It allows anyone on the network to see entries in real-time. In this way communication networks can be created that facilitate data sharing in healthcare (4)
Mobile Staffing Apps and Staff Augmentation This technique
Utilizes outside personnel to evaluate the proficiency and capability of the staff under employment. Hospitals or clinics can hire organizations that are responsible for the entire staffing procedure from recruiting to interviewing and even verifying credentials. Such a process can alleviate the burden faced by an already overworked hospital staff. Mobile staffing applications allow physicians to hire workforce readily and easily for clinics. Nurses, physician assistants and other healthcare workers can upload their credentials on mobile applications making it much easier to hire them (5)

Artificial Intelligence: AI is applied within healthcare to make sense of data by identifying trends that can lead to better treatment outcomes. Algorithms are used to assess risk of events such as incidence of tuberculosis on Chest X rays or falls associated with osteoporosis in the elderly.AI also aids physicians in complicated surgeries involving organs such as the heart. Nurses and doctors are educated to read these trends that allow them to administer adequate and timely treatment (6).

Demand for clinicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and even physician assistants is ever increasing. This is largely due to an increased population. COVID 19 cases have also put an additional strain on the healthcare system in the past one and a half years. According to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. could face an estimated shortage of between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians by 2034.The clinician shortage can put a strain on current clinicians and hospital systems but implementation of technology can lessen the pressure by improving workflows and improving patient care.


About the author

Nimra Ishfaq is a medical student from Pakistan. She has a love for research and pursues it passionately. During her free time she is often found reading her favorite books by famous author Jane Austen. Her mission is to make medical information and research readily accessible to medical students across the globe. Her hobbies include running and badminton. She is an advocate of sports and believes exercise should be encouraged as much as possible. She especially enjoys trekking and is frequently found searching for her next mountainous adventure in nature.

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