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In few industries is safety as high of a priority as it is in healthcare, where business practices can make the difference between life and death. And while safety improvements have transformed the medical field through accessibility, equipment, and electronic medical records (EMRs), there’s still a lot of work to be done.
In 2021, healthcare safety looks a lot different than it has in the past. But it still isn’t perfect. The latest trends in accessibility and cybersecurity are improving the reach and impact of care outcomes and data protection. By understanding these advances in safety, you can better understand how far we still have left to go.
Here’s what healthcare safety looks like in 2021.
Healthcare practices are increasingly adopting remote alternatives, meaning that patients can now access all kinds of healthcare services from the safety of their own homes. This comes in the form of telemedicine treatments — meetings with your care provider conducted entirely over video or audio conferencing tools — and the possibilities are endless.
Popularized by the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine allows patients to stay at home while they consult with their doctors. This means that patients don’t have to expose themselves to long travel or communicable disease by going to visit a physical office. Instead, they can call in and make use of virtual services for everything from mental health to dentistry. In fact, teledentistry is becoming a necessity for communities that otherwise lack access to specialty dental care.
By promoting social distancing and increasing accessibility, telemedicine enables safer solutions for all kinds of treatments.
Wearable devices and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and monitors are elevating the transparency of patient vitals and democratizing healthcare information. With smart fitness devices and mobile health apps gaining popularity, patients now have the tools to track their health data and share it with their physician should they so choose. The result is an environment of greater health awareness.
As wearable devices and the data, they collect become more commonplace, we see safety improvements both in the ability of patients to catch potential issues and in the information medical researchers have to determine better treatment plans.
The safety of medical data itself is another concern of the industry. Right now, cyber-attacks are one of the greatest threats in healthcare, costing hospitals millions each year and passing the damages onto patients. However, modern technology and thorough cybersecurity protocols are acting to mitigate the threat.
With information systems encrypted end-to-end and monitored by the latest developments in AI and machine learning, EMR databases are safer than ever before. Additionally, medical data storage is becoming more secure with the use of cloud networks and even decentralized blockchain systems. Paired with the proper healthcare protocol, these tools are keeping medical information exactly how it’s supposed to be: safe and private.
These new tools and information systems offer unprecedented security for medical information and patient accessibility. In turn, previously underserved regions in terms of healthcare are now experiencing faster and cheaper access to preventative medicine and life-saving treatments.
Care facilities are applying these tools in keeping their patients safe from COVID and other dangerous illnesses, but we have a long way to go before patients and their data are truly secure from all the challenges of a globalized world. Inequitable resources and a pandemic of cybercrime make for a complicated environment for medical care. Even the best AI encryption isn’t a guarantee against a costly data breach.
However, care providers are pushing the envelope with all the ways they are applying new and secure technologies in 2021. In the future, this will undoubtedly help shape a world of safer care.
But for now, consider how recent developments can empower safer and more efficient care in your own practice.