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Jennifer Barta Jennifer Barta, | Mar 4, 2021

Impact of the digital age in healthcare

It is widely understood at this point that the ever-increasing digitization of our world has begun to change the healthcare industry. There are countless ways already in which modern technology is changing how healthcare facilities operate, moving patient data to the cloud, and more. It’s likely we’re only in the early stages of these changes, and yet they’re already making forward-looking hospitals and medical facilities more efficient and more capable.

The digital age is changing patient care also though, and there are several ways in which it is beginning to transform wound care specifically.

How does a more digital healthcare industry make a difference in wound care?

  1. Telemedicine is bringing about remote diagnosis
  2. Maybe the most relevant change relating to digital health as of early 2021 is the widespread implementation of more telehealth. We’ve covered telehealth with regard to COVID-19 before, and in some cases it has been a revelation. To summarize quickly, modern telehealth technologies have helped medical professionals all around the world to assess and diagnose COVID cases through entirely digital means. Not to mention, telehealth has also enabled physicians and nurses to handle other patient issues without risking in-person appointments during a pandemic.

    In the long term though, telemedicine is likely to become a new normal in remote diagnostics for wound care as well. Simply put, now that patients and healthcare workers alike are more used to digital medicine, it has become more common for patients to display wounds via photo or video and receive diagnostic attention and treatment guidelines remotely. Naturally, more severe wounds will still require in-person attention, and we are not suggesting that digital methods will entirely replace ordinary care. But we do expect to see more telemedicine in wound care.

  3. Online education is filling the gaps in nursing
  4. Another major adjustment that’s been made as a result of COVID-19 is that education has become largely virtual, at least in many cases. There’s an ongoing debate about how effective digital-only education really is, as well as the extent to which it will remain in effect once the coronavirus is under control. But adjustments to university practices are being discussed, and there is significant potential that some of the better aspects of virtual learning may remain in place. Students could have greater access to more opportunities, and more flexibility to pursue subjects of interest.

    Shifts toward digital education in healthcare, however, may be more universally positive — most notably in that they may help to fill the gap in nursing. We simply don’t have enough nurses to support the needs of modern healthcare, or wound care specifically. Now though, numerous careers in the nursing field can be pursued through entirely online coursework. This can come either through specifically online educational entities or through internet-based programs for university nursing programs. In either case though, the chance to study online makes it easier for aspiring nurses to obtain the necessary education and degrees, and start working with patients. This has implications across the healthcare industry, but in wound care specifically having more professional nurses on hand will always be a good thing.

  5. Access to big data makes patient care more comprehensive
  6. One of the most widespread impacts of the digital age on patient health is the spread of remote patient monitoring. Remote patient monitoring uses devices to collect patient data (e.g. vital signs, blood pressure, blood sugar, blood oxygen levels, etc.), and transmit them to remote clinicians, who can assess and provide care recommendations. In some cases, monitoring programs allow older and disabled individuals to live in their homes longer. In other cases, the programs can reduce the number of hospitalizations, readmissions, and lengths of stay in hospitals.

    What all versions of patient monitoring have in common, however, is that they all provide the potential for healthcare providers to gather and access data. This can come into play for all sorts of reasons, including taking a more comprehensive approach to wound care. A patient with a significant wound — or a wound that poses a greater risk because of a given underlying condition — will be better served by healthcare providers who have a detailed overview of the patient’s health.

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