As the number of baby boomers entering the health care system begins to grow exponentially, finding enough physicians to provide the same level of care we enjoy today could present some challenges. While many states are increasing the number of medical students they admit, research is showing that fewer medical students are interested in becoming the general practitioners the system may need. There is also an anticipated lack of physical facilities for the 60 million Americans anticipated to enter the health care system over the next few years.
There are several trends that are anticipated to address these problems. Preventative screening technologies are the first line of defense and are anticipated to enable an automated form of triage that starts with the patient. Retail clinic disease monitoring technologies are anticipated to further reduce visits to the hospital by helping patients that already have a chronic disease manage it more effectively. Medical tourism coupled with post operative monitoring technologies are anticipated to offload many patients who can afford to travel abroad.
Preventative screening devices are designed to trigger communication with a physician when some biometric abnormality occurs. These wireless devices, such as heart, oximeter, and blood pressure monitors are typically worn periodically to determine whether biometrics are within normal ranges. When a normalized threshold is crossed, the device alerts the consumer of the abnormality. These devices may help reduce the number of “worried well” patients visiting a doctor or undergoing unwarranted clinical tests.
Retail clinics are increasingly found co-located with pharmacies. Because a general practitioner can sign off on prescriptions through a nurse and there are plenty of pharmacies with the required facilities, this trend is anticipated to address many chronic disease management needs. Wireless devices associated with chronic disease management are anticipated to make regular visits to retail clinics more time and cost efficient for both the patient and the clinician.
Many people are also anticipated to get an increasing number of special procedures in a foreign country, and many physicians advertising medical tourism also practice medicine in the US. Here again, wireless technologies are anticipated to play an important role for postoperative monitoring, where a procedure conducted in one country may have a local follow up in the US triggered by a wireless device.
In addition to these home-monitoring technologies, wireless technologies in non-life critical hospital settings are anticipated to improve care taker efficiency and make patients more comfortable. If you’ve ever had to stay in the hospital after a procedure and turned over to wake up to the sound of loud beeping alarms, you can understand how wireless technologies might make your stay better while also reducing the number of times the nurse has to visit your room.
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