The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated technology development and implementation across every industry, but of course the healthcare industry, out of necessity, is at the forefront of digital transformation. Non-contact sensor tech has taken center stage as healthcare providers seek to deliver care safely, and they’ll continue to play a vital role in the war against COVID-19 and other diseases in the future. Let’s take a look at what a few of these advances in healthcare technology solutions look like and how they are being used to change patient care as we know it.
#1 - Diagnoses via audio analysis
Pneumonia kills nearly 2 million children annually. Diagnosing the disease early, along with the right care, can help prevent many of these casualties. This can be challenging in remote populations where modern imaging and labs aren’t available, to say nothing of qualified medical staff necessary to treat patients safely. New research has successfully tested a contactless method for accurately diagnosing pneumonia that could be a game changer for remote populations. It works by recording the coughs of patients suffering from an acute respiratory illness (e.g. asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia). Those audio files are then analyzed by a logistic regression classifier, which has been trained to identify pneumonia based on previous audio of confirmed cases. So far, the method can distinguish pneumonia from other illnesses at a sensitivity rate of 94%.
#2 - Cameras monitoring vitals
Knowing a patient’s heart rate, temperature and blood oxygenation couldn’t be more essential to providing adequate care, yet traditional monitoring methods are a mess of wires and beeps. Many times the devices themselves can be uncomfortable to wear, and there’s the most obvious issue of having to wear something. The good news is companies are beginning to bring to market optical systems that can accurately measure a patient’s: heartrate, breathing rate, blood oxygenation, blood pressure and temperature. That’s a lot of wires that were just eliminated. These systems work by installing a camera overhead inside a patient’s room, and then the video is analyzed in real time by machine learning software that interprets the data and transforms it into readable data.
#3 - Sensors aiding healthcare workers
Apart from patient monitoring, non-contact technology is working to make life easier and safer for healthcare workers. Automatic door opening is one key area, especially in highly restricted areas. New door sensor technology works together with mobile credential tech to detect a worker’s identity on their mobile device or fob and then promptly open and close a door. Video intercoms are now being installed in healthcare facilities that contain sensor technology that detects motion (like waving), so workers can initiate a video call. Security providers are also getting in on the action with touchless control panels that can be armed or disarmed by voice or other wireless credentials. Automated wellness kiosks are a great way to free up healthcare workers for more important tasks. These kiosks can take your temperature, display important information on large digital signage and dispense hand sanitizer.
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