Think Differently: Innovation in Healthcare during a Time for Change

Innovation in healthcare can come in all shapes and sizes. It can take the form of a new healthcare seating system, that allows patients and their families never-before-seen opportunities to relax, congregate, and educate themselves before, during, and after their healthcare experience. Or it can be in the form of a smartphone app that allows a patient to track their vitals and correspond with their doctor, allowing them to stay healthier during the time between their appointments. Whatever their form, creative solutions will be key for the future of healthcare.

Sometimes, innovation can take its cues from unexpected places. For example, look at this interesting, slightly unorthodox proposal from West Virginia University School of Medicine: as a way to limit the spread of infections between healthcare workers, when greeting each other, the administration has encouraged bumping fists instead of shaking hands. We’ve written before about hospitals’ attempts to get their workers to wash their hands, and how infections are one of the biggest problems healthcare facilities face. Well, this adoption of so-called ‘bro’ culture may be a way to limit the spread of those dangerous infections.

The smartphone app example mentioned above has already demonstrated its effectiveness. Mayo Clinic researchers found that patients who attended cardiac rehabilitation and used a smartphone-based app to record daily measurements, such as weight and blood pressure, had greater improvements in those cardiovascular risk factors and were less likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 90 days of discharge compared with patients who only attended cardiac rehabilitation. Only 20 percent of the patients who attended cardiac rehab and used the app were readmitted to the hospital or visited the emergency department within 90 days, compared with 60 percent of those in the control group, researchers discovered.

The author of the study, Mayo Clinic fellow Dr. R. Jay Widmer, was encouraged by the study’s results: “There are multiple versions of cardiac rehab, and this is just one more option in our technological age. We hope a tool like this will help us extend the reach of cardiac rehab to all heart patients, but, in particular, it could help patients in rural and underserved populations who might not be able to attend cardiac rehab sessions,” he said.

It’s easy to see why innovations involving smartphones and tablets are becoming more and more common in healthcare. From a post on HealthWorks Collective:

Why are tablets a better solution for home-based care? For home health care aides, tablets provide an opportunity for real-time interaction with the care team to a greater extent than ever before. In-home caregivers can record their observations and notes directly onto an electronic platform, which saves times, avoids mistakes, and helps prevent small problems that occur in the home from becoming big problems that send a patient to the hospital.

In this time of change in healthcare, innovation in workspaces and work practices will be plentiful in the coming years. Whether it’s in the exam room, or centered around the needs of clinicians and their privacy concerns, the future of healthcare is undoubtedly bright.

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