In recent decades, we have witnessed how technology is significantly impacting all aspects of our lives. Undoubtedly, one of the areas where it is having a revolutionary effect is the healthcare sector. The adoption and development of technological solutions in this field, known as e-health, are providing new possibilities and transforming the way healthcare services are delivered and accessed.
What is e-health?
E-health, also known as electronic health or digital health, refers to the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the field of health. It encompasses a wide range of applications and services, including the use of mobile devices, telemedicine, electronic health records, health tracking and monitoring apps, artificial intelligence, and data analysis, among others. In short, e-health utilizes technology to improve the efficiency, quality, and accessibility of healthcare services.
As the creation and development of various devices and technologies continue, the digital transformation in healthcare and medicine will further refine healthcare systems. This can manifest in the evolution from inappropriate services and procedures to more suitable ones. It also involves offering faster, more effective, and economical solutions for diseases such as HIV or cancer. Additionally, achieving parity in the relationship between healthcare professionals and patients is another aspect that can become a reality.
How is e-health revolutionizing the healthcare sector?
How is e-health revolutionizing the healthcare sector? Currently, e-health is revolutionizing the healthcare sector in multiple ways. Firstly, it has improved accessibility to medical care, especially for those living in remote areas or with limited access to healthcare services. Telemedicine, for example, enables patients to consult with doctors through video conferences, eliminating the need to travel long distances. Additionally, health tracking and monitoring apps allow patients to manage their medical conditions from the comfort of their homes, reducing the need for frequent hospital visits.
Furthermore, e-health is enhancing efficiency in delivering healthcare services. For instance, the digitization of medical records is largely replacing paper records. This evolution facilitates information exchange among healthcare providers, reducing medication and diagnostic errors.
Moreover, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data analysis help identify patterns and trends in extensive clinical datasets, assisting doctors in decision-making and the development of more precise and personalized treatments. It’s worth noting that AI algorithms, capable of analyzing medical histories, are used to design treatment plans and diagnose cancerous and non-cancerous tissue samples.
Similarly, the analysis of large volumes of patient data and online collaboration among researchers worldwide are accelerating the discovery of innovative treatments and therapies. Adding to this is the use of connected devices and smart sensors that streamline real-time data collection, allowing more comprehensive and accurate monitoring of patients’ health in clinical studies and trials.
Other notable advances in e-health:
Currently, Virtual Reality (VR) is being utilized in various situations, ranging from the training of future surgeons to the practice of surgeries by qualified medical professionals. Companies such as ImmersiveTouch and Osso VR are developing these tools. Results so far suggest broad prospects. Recent studies revealed that surgeons trained with the support of VR increased their overall performance by up to 230%, compared to their conventionally trained counterparts.
Patients also benefit from VR in pain treatment. Several studies demonstrate that using VR as a stimulus reduces pain intensity in patients with various diagnoses, particularly in cases of cardiac, neurological, gastrointestinal, and postsurgical pain.
Certainly, the development of robotics applied to healthcare cannot be overlooked among e-health advancements. Robotic rehabilitation therapies continue to prove their ability to enhance motor function in patients with various physical and neurological disabilities, including spinal cord injuries, strokes (ictus), cerebral palsy, and Parkinson’s disease.
Some of the most widely used robotic technologies in rehabilitation include:
- Robotic exoskeletons, externally placed on the patient’s body to provide support and assistance in movements.
- Robotic prosthetics, replacing amputated limbs.
- Limb rehabilitation systems, aiding patients in performing specific exercises to support the recovery of strength and coordination in affected limbs.
- Brain-computer interfaces, enabling direct communication between the brain and a robotic device through interfaces, to restore mobility and function in paralyzed patients.
- Therapeutic robots, typically humanoid and supported by Artificial Intelligence, interacting with patients to encourage them to perform exercises, such as Robic, developed by Inrobics.
What can we expect from e-health in the future?
As we have seen in this brief overview, e-health is demonstrating its potential to transform the healthcare sector today. However, its prospects for the future are even more exciting.
As technology continues to advance and integrate more deeply into our daily lives, we can expect e-health to play a central role in improving healthcare and promoting global health. Here are some examples:
Personalized and Preventive Medicine
E-health will enable a more personalized and preventive approach to medicine. With electronic health records and real-time data collection, doctors can gain a more comprehensive and detailed view of each individual’s health. This will allow the identification of risk factors and the adoption of preventive measures before diseases emerge. Treatments can be tailored to the specific characteristics and needs of each patient, enhancing effectiveness and minimizing side effects.
Artificial Intelligence and Diagnosis
Artificial intelligence (AI) will play a crucial role in medical diagnosis. Machine learning algorithms will analyze large amounts of clinical and medical data to identify patterns, predict diseases, and provide more accurate diagnoses. This will expedite the diagnostic process and enable timely and effective treatments.
Digital Health and Wearable Devices
Wearable devices and digital health applications will continue to evolve and improve. Advances in wearables, such as smartwatches and body sensors, will constantly monitor physical activity, heart rate, sleep, and other health parameters. These devices will be capable of detecting and alerting potential health issues, helping individuals maintain a healthy lifestyle and make informed decisions about their well-being.
3D printing applied to medicine is already creating organs for transplants, living skin, and even blood vessels. Soon, this technology will be able to produce bone prosthetics based on tissue formed with the patient’s genetic material.
Interoperability and Data Security
In the future, interoperability of information systems and data security will be crucial aspects of e-health. Efforts to standardize and securely share data among different healthcare institutions and professionals will enable more coordinated and collaborative care.
In this regard, safeguarding patient privacy and data security will be fundamental to ensure trust in the use of technology in the healthcare sector.
Inrobics is contributing to the evolution of e-health
Since our inception as a spin-off from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Inrobics has focused on enhancing rehabilitation therapies through robotics. Our proposals integrate Artificial Intelligence (AI) and social robots with the aim of improving the quality of life for patients with functional or neurological limitations. To achieve this, our application facilitates the control and configuration of sessions with the robot.
Furthermore, we provide a real-time information control panel to monitor the user’s progress. Our cloud platform allows the tool to be used in rehabilitation centers or at the patient’s home, following a personalized treatment controlled by the therapist. This is our contribution to the development of e-health. Request a free demonstration today!