A visit to the local hospital during a business trip or vacation abroad is not a welcome interruption. Many hospitals around the world provide equally good care but with language barriers and without access to the patient’s health records, treatment of the patient becomes difficult. Added to this is the fact that many remote locations don’t have the same access to the experts and specialized equipment of larger hospitals. I got to experience this first hand when a ski accident in the Alps made me the subject of a helicopter evacuation to the nearest hospital. The hospital was located in a small village with surroundings like a scene out of the movie, ‘Sound of Music’ complete with German speaking nuns caring for me. My school German didn’t get me far when faced with heavy accents and medical terms. I couldn’t have had better care givers but they weren’t specialists. It was a big relief when soon after arrival I was put in contact with SOS International which opened collaboration with specialists from the city near my home, my primary care physician, the local village doctor and me. This eye-opening experience didn’t just teach me to be more cautious in far away, remote locations, it was also a lesson of the tremendous amount of coordination required to ensure a patient get the best care possible.
With current systems there is a lot of room for errors. Wouldn’t it be convenient if all the information about your health was safely stored and could be accessed by the medical staff at hand, no matter where you are? If caregivers could share information safely and seamlessly, patients wouldn’t have to go through the same expensive diagnostic at different locations or by different practitioners.
Having results from previous health monitoring, treatment and diagnostic available with a few clicks would make treatment of the patient both safer and more efficient. Connected Healthcare is quickly becoming a reality with electronic health records being the norm, and an increasing number of medical devices will be connected offering rich sets of data. Real-time, critical data is made available at any given time through sensors attached to patients. The data is displayed on monitoring equipment on the patient bedside and when critical values are below a set threshold, caretakers are automatically updated. Automatic surveillance of patients’ health status provides better patient care, more personalized treatment and more efficient staffing.
Electronic Medical Records (EMR) has become normal practice at hospitals in the US and is used to gather all information about a patient at a specific location. To connect all EMRs and give the full patient history, Electronic Health Records (EHRs) contains information from all institutions involved in the care of the patient. It won’t be long until these electronic records can be made available regardless of the location of the patient. Access to electronic health records keeps caregivers on the same page and with the full background to patient history and diagnoses. Electronic records can be updated automatically and accessed from anywhere. Doctors can access lab results, images from MRIs or X-Rays as well as getting the latest status from sensors connected to the patient from any device at any time through secure mobile access to central data storage. Connected healthcare makes remote collaboration possible since large amounts of data can be transferred instantaneously between facilities. Remote locations get access to world renowned experts with access to real-time data and images from connected MRIs, ultrasound machines etc.
Advancements in modules and boards providing reduced power consumption and better graphics are at the heart of these connected medical systems. These advancements include remote test and troubleshooting, minimizing downtime of critical equipment.
One of the most desired things today is a long and healthy life. Improved, connected healthcare with safer and more efficient treatment of patients will take us one step closer to achieving this goal. Wouldn’t it be great to have expert advice available across the globe and improve international collaboration, thus paving the road for safer travels in the world of intercontinental traveling?