Several health technology advancements have been made over the centuries, but few have had the broad impact of digital technology. Networking and computer technology have improved, expanding therapy options, and changing how doctors work. Computers in medicine were debated in the 1960s. As technology improved and prices fell, policies and data standards were created to encourage healthcare institutions to use new technologies for medical equipment like diagnostic imaging machines and routine record keeping. Artificial intelligence algorithms analyze medical images to diagnose and treat patients. Image segmentation, object detection, and image registration align multiple images of the same patient taken at different times or modalities. AI imaging aids in cancer and heart disease diagnosis, surgical planning, and image-guided procedures.PET and Magnetic Resonance Imaging for medical X-rays, such as CT, are the most common methods. Imaging technologies are used even more in drug development and imaging research. Focusing on such approaches helps researchers use imaging methods in research projects. A CT scan uses an X-ray beam to create a two-dimensional (2D) "slice" of the body. Repeating this process yields many stacked slices that form a complete organ image. Micro-CT imaging can be used in drug development studies to show how a drug affects organ structure. Many applications and research use biomedical signals to identify physiological processes. Common image processing methods improve medical imaging and biological processing. The electrocardiogram (ECG) example shows how bio signals from the heart are collected to display various heart states. ECGs can help doctors start treatment.
Technology advances have had a profound impact on the healthcare business, resulting in better patient outcomes, higher efficiency, and lower prices. Digital medical records, telehealth, smart wearables, machine learning, and blockchain have transformed the delivery of healthcare. Telemedicine has enabled distant utilization of medical facilities, particularly in rural places where access to healthcare is limited (Senbekov et al., 2020). Wearable technology can track health parameters and remotely monitor patients, enabling early detection of potential health problems. AI has enhanced diagnosis accuracy and tailored possible treatments, while blockchain technology ensures secure and open record-keeping (Reddy et al., 2019). Technology advances have had a profound impact on the healthcare business, resulting in better patient outcomes, higher efficiency, and lower prices. Traditional paper records have been replaced with electronic health records, resulting in greater communication among healthcare practitioners and patient outcomes safety (Vassolo et al., 2021). Healthcare practitioners will keep embracing technology as it advances.
The purpose of this literature review is to provide an overview of the current state of technology in healthcare and its impact on patient care. It aims to identify the various technologies that have been implemented in healthcare and their benefits and limitations, as well as the challenges associated with the integration of technology. It also seeks to identify gaps in existing research and identify areas for further investigation. For example, the review may examine the effectiveness of telemedicine in improving access to healthcare in rural areas and identify areas where further research is needed. It may also explore the potential of artificial intelligence to improve diagnostic accuracy and personalized treatment options.
A literature review on the integration of technology in healthcare is broad, examining the implementation of electronic health records, telemedicine, wearable technology, artificial intelligence, and blockchain. It also explores the benefits and limitations of these technologies in areas such as patient care, healthcare provider communication, data privacy and security, and cost reduction. However, the review has limitations, such as limited availability and quality of the literature, biased toward studies published in English or specific geographic regions, and not capturing the most recent developments in technology in healthcare. Additionally, it may not address the cultural, social, and economic factors that impact the implementation of technology.
Health technology, according to the World Health Organization, is the application of scientific knowledge and skill to the development of medical tools, methods, systems, vaccines, and drugs that may improve people's quality of life and solve health issues.
Types of technology used in healthcare:
Artificial intelligence (AI), big data, telemedicine, blockchain, and smart devices, among other digital medical technologies, may help make healthcare more affordable, adaptable, and accessible for all, particularly in low-income nations. These technologies have the potential to improve therapeutic treatments, and diagnostics methods, and automate physically demanding occupations. Yet, in the fields of biomedical research and healthcare, AI cannot totally replace humans (Mitchell & Kan, 2019). Finally, there is hope that these technologies will aid in the resolution of crucial issues in healthcare and medical education.
Benefits of technology in healthcare:
Technology in healthcare has the potential to improve patient outcomes by enhancing diagnosis accuracy, reducing medical errors, and enabling better monitoring of chronic conditions. A study found that telehealth interventions led to improved outcomes in patients with heart failure, reduced hospital readmissions, and improved quality of life (Wake et al., 2020). Technology can also streamline workflows, reduce administrative burdens, and enable better resource allocation, leading to increased efficiency and productivity among healthcare providers. A study conducted in 2017 found that the implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) resulted in increased efficiency and productivity among healthcare providers (Adler-Milstein & Jha, 2017). Additionally, the integration of technology in healthcare has been shown to reduce costs and improve patient satisfaction.
Challenges of implementing technology in healthcare:
Numerous studies have noted difficulties in deploying technology in healthcare, such as the high cost of installing electronic health records (EHRs) and technical knowledge. Adler-Milstein et al. (2017) discovered, for example, that the high cost of deploying electronic health records (EHRs) was a substantial obstacle for many healthcare institutions (Adler-Milstein & Jha, 2017). According to a systematic study and meta-analysis, one of the most significant challenges connected with the introduction of telemedicine in healthcare is resistance to change. To boost patient acceptance, healthcare organizations must engage in solid security protocols for data and include patients in the creation and execution of mHealth technology (Wake et al., 2020). Furthermore, patients, particularly those who were unfamiliar with or had limited access to technology, were frequently apprehensive to employ mHealth devices.
Improved Quality of Healthcare:
By providing more efficient, precise, and individualized care, technology can greatly improve healthcare quality. EHRs and other digital health tools can let doctors share patient information in real-time, reducing errors and enhancing care coordination. O'Malley et al. (2017) discovered that the adoption of EHRs was associated with greater care quality, including better adherence to clinical standards and better outcomes for patients with chronic conditions. Another technology that can improve healthcare quality is telemedicine, which allows for more accessible and timely care, and personalized medicine, which allows for more precise and individualized treatment programs.
Enhanced Patient Experience
Technology has the potential to enhance the patient experience in healthcare by providing patients with more convenient and accessible care, improving communication and education, and increasing patient engagement and satisfaction. One way this can be done is using patient portals and mobile health (mHealth) applications, which enable patients to access their health information, communicate with providers, and manage their health from anywhere. A study by Gualtieri et al. (2018) found that the use of patient portals and mHealth applications was associated with improved patient engagement and satisfaction (Winter & Davidson, 2022). Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have the potential to provide immersive and interactive educational experiences, and AI can identify patterns and insights that enable providers to deliver more targeted and effective care. A study found that the use of VR and AR was associated with improved patient education and engagement, particularly in the context of surgical procedures and rehabilitation (Dhar et al., 2021).
Increased Efficiency of Healthcare Delivery
The use of technology in healthcare has the potential to increase the efficiency of healthcare delivery by streamlining processes, reducing administrative burden, and improving communication and collaboration between providers. Electronic health records (EHRs), telemedicine and AI are prime examples of technology that have been shown to improve efficiency in healthcare delivery.
A study by Adler-Milstein et al. found that the use of EHRs was associated with increased efficiency in ambulatory care settings (Adler-Milstein & Jha, 2017). A study found that the use of telemedicine was associated with reduced wait times and travel for patients, as well as increased efficiency in primary care practices (Ashwood et al., 2017). Chen et al found that an AI system was able to diagnose skin cancer with a level of accuracy comparable to dermatologists, suggesting the potential for AI to improve the efficiency and accuracy of diagnosis (Chen et al., 2020).
The use of technology in healthcare has the potential to generate cost savings by reducing administrative and operational costs, increasing efficiency, and improving patient outcomes. The use of EHRs, telemedicine, AI, and machine learning are examples of technologies that have been shown to generate cost savings and have the potential to transform the way healthcare is delivered.
Adler-Milstein et al. found that the use of EHRs was associated with lower Medicare spending, suggesting that the implementation of EHRs could lead to significant cost savings in healthcare delivery (Adler-Milstein & Jha, 2017). A study found that the use of telemedicine was associated with reduced healthcare spending and increased cost-effectiveness, particularly in rural and underserved areas (Jacob et al., 2020). Lu et al. (2019) found that the use of an AI system for chest radiograph interpretation resulted in significant cost savings by reducing the need for radiologist interpretation and follow-up tests (Lu et al., 2020).
Resistance to Change
Resistance to change is a significant challenge in the implementation of technology in healthcare due to a variety of reasons, such as fear of job loss, lack of training, and perceived disruption to workflow. A study found that healthcare providers may resist adopting new technologies due to a lack of awareness and training, perceived disruption, and concerns about job security (Houwink et al., 2020). EHRs are a prime example of technology implementation in healthcare that has faced resistance from healthcare providers and staff due to concerns over loss of productivity and workflow disruption, as well as a lack of training and support (Mitchell & Kan, 2019). To overcome this resistance, healthcare organizations must provide training and support, address job security, and ensure that new technologies are integrated smoothly into existing workflows.
Privacy and Security Concerns:
Privacy and security concerns are major challenges with implementing technology in healthcare, as healthcare organizations increasingly rely on digital technologies to store and exchange sensitive patient data. One area of concern is the use of electronic health records (EHRs) and mobile health (mHealth) technologies, which can pose privacy risks. A study found that healthcare providers expressed concerns about the security of EHRs and the potential for breaches of patient data (Sieck et al., 2018).
To address these concerns, healthcare organizations must implement appropriate safeguards to protect patient privacy and ensure that sensitive patient data remains secure, such as encryption and secure data storage protocols, as well as the implementation of strict access controls and authentication mechanisms to prevent unauthorized data access.
Ethical and Legal Considerations:
The implementation of technology in healthcare raises several ethical and legal considerations, which can present significant challenges for healthcare organizations. These considerations include issues related to data privacy, informed consent, and the appropriate use of patient data. A study found that healthcare providers and patients may have differing opinions on the use of patient data for research purposes, highlighting the need for clear guidelines and informed consent procedures (Houwink et al., 2020). Additionally, the use of AI and ML in healthcare may be hampered by concerns over data privacy and bias (Senbekov et al., 2020). Healthcare organizations must take appropriate steps to address these concerns, including the implementation of clear guidelines and informed consent procedures, as well as compliance with relevant regulatory frameworks.
Integration with Existing Healthcare Systems:
The integration of new technology into existing healthcare systems can present significant challenges for healthcare organizations. A study found that the successful implementation of new technology requires careful planning and coordination across different departments and stakeholders (Nambisan & Nambisan, 2017). Additionally, the need for interoperability between different systems is critical for providing high-quality, coordinated care. Finally, new technology must be aligned with the broader strategic goals of the healthcare organization. Healthcare organizations must take a holistic approach to technology implementation, considering the needs of all stakeholders and ensuring that the new technology is able to seamlessly integrate with existing systems (Johnson et al., 2021).
Artificial intelligence (AI) is an emerging trend in healthcare technology that has the potential to transform healthcare delivery. AI systems can be used for a wide range of applications, including medical imaging analysis, clinical decision-making, and personalized medicine. A study found that AI-based algorithms were able to accurately diagnose lung cancer from CT scans with a higher accuracy than human radiologists (Gore, 2020). Another area where AI has shown promise is clinical decision-making. A study found that an AI-based system was able to accurately predict patient mortality rates and length of hospital stay, providing clinicians with valuable insights for making treatment decisions (Reddy et al., 2019). By analyzing large amounts of patient data AI systems also have the potential to improve personalized medicine by enabling more targeted and precise treatment approaches. However, there are also challenges that must be addressed to ensure the safe and effective use of AI in healthcare. Continued investment in research and development, as well as robust regulatory frameworks, will be critical for realizing the full potential of AI.
Telemedicine and Remote Patient Monitoring:
Telemedicine and virtual care are being integrated into healthcare systems to increase efficiency and promote social distancing measures. These solutions can help manage prolonged waiting times and reduce the risk of disease progression, as well as minimize in-person visits and face-to-face contact to reduce the transmission of the virus and protect medical practitioners from infection (Bokolo Anthony Jnr, 2020). However, there are challenges to effective implementation, such as patient privacy, quality of images and video, and difficulty in performing some diagnoses. To implement telemedicine into outpatient practices, steps are recommended, such as using existing systems and platforms, identifying high-risk or urgent patients, deferring nonessential visits until a later time, establishing a pathway for contact and evaluation for urgent patients, and making sure patients are aware of a clear line of communication to minimize emergency department overuse for noncritical issues (Senbekov et al., 2020).
Wearable devices in healthcare are portable electronic devices that can be worn on the body to perceive, record, analyze, regulate, and intervene to maintain health and treat diseases. They integrate mechanical functions with microelectronics and computing power to achieve real-time, online, accurate, and intelligent detection and analysis of human physiological and pathological information. Wearable devices are characterized by wireless mobility, interactivity, sustainability, simple operation, and wearability (Pevnick et al., 2018). They follow the 4P medical model of preventive, predictive, personalized, and participatory medicine and can play a significant role in advancing precision medicine by enabling the measurement of clinically relevant parameters showing the health status of individuals. Wrist-worn heart rate monitors are commonly used by consumers and can measure heart rates with less than 10% error compared to reference standard devices (Chiang et al., 2021). However, automatic transmission of patient-initiated data to smartphones and remote servers may present challenges as massive volumes of data have not been shown to beneficially inform clinical care.
Blockchain and Healthcare Data Management:
Blockchain technology is an emerging trend in healthcare technology that has the potential to transform healthcare data management. It is a decentralized and secure ledger system that can be used to store and share healthcare data in a secure and transparent manner. One area where blockchain has shown promise is in healthcare data management, where it can securely store and share patient data with other healthcare providers. It can also ensure data privacy and security by enabling patients to control their own data and grant permission to healthcare providers to access it. A study found that blockchain-based systems could improve the accuracy and completeness of patient records while ensuring data privacy and security (He et al., 2019). Another area where blockchain has shown promise is in clinical trials. By using blockchain to record clinical trial data securely and transparently, researchers can ensure that trial data is accurate and complete, reducing the risk of errors and fraud (Maslove et al., 2018). Additionally, blockchain can help streamline the clinical trial process by enabling more efficient and transparent data sharing between researchers, sponsors, and regulatory bodies. A study found that blockchain-based systems could improve the efficiency and transparency of the clinical trial process while reducing the risk of errors and fraud (Mettler, 2016).
3D printing is an emerging technology that has the potential to transform the healthcare industry by enabling the creation of patient-specific implants, prosthetics, and other medical devices. It involves the layer-by-layer printing of materials such as plastic, metal, and even living cells to create complex structures with high precision. 3D printing has shown promise in creating customized implants and prosthetics that are tailored to the unique needs and anatomy of individual patients, leading to better patient outcomes (Chae et al., 2020). It has also shown promise in the creation of complex anatomical models for surgical planning and education, which can help improve surgical outcomes, reduce surgical time, and enhance patient safety. A study found that 3D-printed models could improve surgical outcomes by providing better visualization and understanding of complex anatomical structures (Chae et al., 2020).
Potential Impact on Healthcare Delivery:
The rapid pace of technological advancements in healthcare is paving the way for a future of healthcare delivery that is more efficient, effective, and patient-centered. There are several emerging technologies that have the potential to revolutionize healthcare delivery, such as telemedicine, wearables and sensors, and AI. Telemedicine can help improve access to healthcare, reduce healthcare costs, and enhance patient satisfaction (Senbekov et al., 2020). Wearables and sensors can track patient health data, and AI can help healthcare providers make more accurate diagnoses, develop personalized treatment plans, and improve care coordination. A study found that wearables and sensors could improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs by enabling early intervention and proactive care management (Winter & Davidson, 2022). A study found that AI could improve healthcare delivery by reducing diagnostic errors, enhancing efficiency, and improving patient outcomes (Hosny et al., 2018). However, there are also challenges that must be addressed, such as data privacy and security concerns, regulatory frameworks, and workforce training.
Challenges and Opportunities:
The future of healthcare technology presents both challenges and opportunities. To ensure that these emerging technologies are accessible and affordable for all patients, reimbursement policies, regulatory frameworks, and infrastructure development must be addressed. To reduce healthcare costs and improve efficiency, healthcare providers can use AI, telemedicine, and wearables to streamline processes, reduce administrative burdens, and improve care coordination (Cappon et al., 2019). A study found that the adoption of telemedicine could result in significant cost savings for healthcare organizations (Li et al., 2020). To improve patient engagement and empowerment, these technologies can help improve patient outcomes and satisfaction. To address these challenges and leverage these opportunities, continued investment in research and development, a collaboration between stakeholders, and a commitment to ensuring that these technologies are accessible, affordable, and secure for all patients.
As healthcare technology continues to evolve, policymakers will play a critical role in shaping its future. One key policy implication is the need to develop regulations and guidelines to ensure that these technologies are safe, effective, and accessible for all patients. A study highlights the need for a comprehensive regulatory framework that balances innovation with patient safety and data privacy (Vassolo et al., 2021). To address the digital divide, policymakers can promote initiatives to expand broadband access, improve digital literacy, and increase access to telemedicine and other remote monitoring technologies. Additionally, policymakers must address the ethical and legal implications of these emerging technologies, such as data privacy, informed consent, and liability. A study highlights the need for clear guidelines on the use of AI in healthcare, particularly with respect to issues such as bias, transparency, and accountability (Davenport & Kalakota, 2019).
Healthcare technology has come a long way in the past decade, with medical devices becoming more advanced and sophisticated, telemedicine enabling remote medical care, and electronic health records improving patient safety. However, there are still challenges to address, such as interoperability, data security and privacy, and the need to integrate technology seamlessly into clinical workflows. To address these challenges, a research agenda is proposed to develop standards for interoperability, ensure data security, develop reliable AI algorithms, and engage patients in their care. Interoperability is a top priority, as it enables different systems to exchange data seamlessly, resulting in better-coordinated care and improved patient outcomes. Data security and privacy is another critical area for future research, as healthcare technology must ensure that patient data is protected, and patient privacy is respected.
AI algorithms are essential for improving diagnostic accuracy and predicting patient outcomes. Telemedicine has the potential to reduce healthcare costs and improve access to care, and patient engagement is critical for improving patient outcomes. Future research should focus on developing technologies that can engage patients in care and improve their health literacy.
In conclusion, healthcare technology has come a long way in the past decade and has the potential to revolutionize the way healthcare is provided. Medical devices, telemedicine, electronic health records, health information exchange, and artificial intelligence have all contributed to improving patient outcomes and enhancing the quality of care provided. However, challenges remain, such as interoperability, data security and privacy, and integrating technology seamlessly into clinical workflows.
To address these challenges and advance the field further, a research agenda is proposed. This agenda includes developing standards for interoperability, ensuring data security and privacy, developing reliable AI algorithms, enhancing telemedicine, and engaging patients in their care. By focusing on these areas, healthcare technology can continue to improve patient outcomes and enhance the quality of care provided.
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