In the last two years, our society has been through a real shock. Among the effects felt: a new vision of telecommuting, a growing labor shortage, a cut in supply (which is still struggling to recover) and much more.
But it wasn't all bad. The shock has also had the effect of accelerating certain initiatives, encouraging us to review our ways of doing things and to be increasingly creative.
In Quebec, one of the areas that has been most affected is healthcare. Highly visible throughout the pandemic, our healthcare system has seen several improvements over the past two years.
What are they? Here are some examples of new technologies in health care.
Sofware in healthcare
Not so long ago, the fax machine was the main tool of most clinics and hospitals in Quebec. Walk-in services and even appointment scheduling systems were archaic and frustrating.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the healthcare field has taken the opportunity to greatly accelerate its digital transformation process. The advent of Clic Santé has had a very beneficial effect on appointment scheduling and the reservation system was able to be tested thoroughly with the COVID-19 vaccination. And let's not forget the management of the vaccination passport, which Akinox developed at great speed in collaboration with Uzinakod.
Telemedicine has also taken off in Quebec. With the centralized file and Carnet santé Québec, the use of paper (and the famous fax) has greatly diminished, without disappearing entirely for the moment.
We must not forget to address the issue of health data security. Technological solutions require continuous monitoring and constant updates to counter potential attacks.
Robots and healthcare
Robots are becoming more and more important in this sector. The use of a manipulator arm for a handicapped person will allow him to increase his autonomy, for example. Some robots are controlled by surgeons to perform operations. These machines are much more consistent and allow for faster and less risky interventions, thanks to increased operating precision. This can also have a positive impact on patient remission time.
Another application of robotics has taken off with the pandemic. This is the subject of my doctoral thesis currently in progress. It is about assisting nurses in their work.
As in many fields at present, there is a shortage of manpower among the nursing staff. With the outbreak of the virus, the demand has increased and many employees have been infected. These two factors have only amplified the problem!
What if robots could do certain repetitive tasks? They could serve food or distribute medication, disinfect rooms or take patients' vital signs. This would free up nurses' time to focus on the human side of their work.
Other robots are sometimes used for reception. They direct people in the hospital, they can answer some questions and even make appointments!
In any case, some robots of this type already exist, but the cost of such technology is considerable.
AI in healthcare
Another technology that is becoming more and more important in health care is the use of artificial intelligence. It is now possible to assist doctors in the diagnosis of certain diseases, mainly through the analysis of X-ray images.
In some countries, the use of artificial intelligence agents has already been implemented in 911 emergency call centers. The voice generated by the system is very similar and the help given to callers can sometimes go even further than if a human was on the other end of the line!
The main reason is that the artificial intelligence solution uses all available data (audio, video if available as well as the history of all calls).
The model may therefore be able to detect things that a human being could not, such as the sibilance of a breath.
In addition to increasing the quality of care, it is again a solution to the lack of personnel in the sector.
IoT: Smart technologies in healthcare
I've been publishing on the subject for a few articles now (see article suggestions below). With IoT all around us, how can it be applied to healthcare?
Actually, there are many possibilities and some are already in place. First of all, the wearable (sorry for the Anglicism, the term is difficult to translate into French without losing its meaning) is one of the biggest vectors of IoT in health. Smartwatches, sensors on clothing (shoes, sweaters, etc.), all of this makes it possible to collect data on the person wearing them.
It is therefore possible to use this data for various aspects of health: sleep analysis, blood pressure, heart and so on. We can then prevent incidents by warning the patient if he shows signs of heart attack or other health problems.
With notifications and advice, it is also possible to delay or even inhibit a health problem and thus give the patient time to consult his doctor. One day, the doctor could even take the lead and call his patients to follow up on a notification issued by one of a patient's various smart devices.
Another use of IoT in a hospital is equipment tracking. Often times, healthcare personnel waste a lot of time searching for a specific piece of equipment. If that equipment had a location device, then it would be possible to find it quickly.
Bed management could also be greatly simplified. For example, if a patient leaves their room for an x-ray, it would allow time to clean up their space while they are away. At the risk of repeating myself, this housekeeping could be accomplished by a robot!
As you can see, new technologies in the health care field have their place. However, the design of these products is subject to strict rules.
A certification from the authorities (for example: Health Canada) is necessary to ensure the safety of the product for the health of the patients. Why is this? To avoid that the technology is the cause of additional problems!
The main challenge is the security of the data and the device against cyber attacks. Also, the ethical aspect of the use of robots and artificial intelligence algorithms raises great questions. The competent authorities are currently working on the use of AI in the health sector.
When proven safe and valid, the product can be used by the public and thus contribute to improving the quality of care. It can even have a positive impact on patient life expectancy.
At Uzinakod, technology projects in the health field are one of our specialties. Our experts are able to assist you in the development and certification of your solution. We implement effective security measures to ensure the protection of all sensitive and confidential data.