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By Fatima Khota, Category Head POS, Rectron

The future of healthcare is shaping up in front of our very eyes with advances in digital healthcare technologies, such as artificial intelligence, 3D-printing, robotics and inventory management. With the need for digital acceleration to support the healthcare landscape since the onset of the Covid-19 global pandemic, technology has played a critical role to improve the standards of patient healthcare and enable health-workers.

Other industries, such as the entertainment and retail sectors, have met the challenge of evolving consumer expectations through digital transformation. This has allowed them to provide a more seamless experience, while fundamentally changing the way their businesses operate. The new reality for healthcare requires the redesign of health and care systems and introduction of new models to address primary, secondary and acute care and care that extends to the community.

In healthcare, digital technology could help transform unsustainable healthcare systems by providing cheaper, faster and more effective solutions. Throughout this pandemic, technology has answered the call for a new form of health that illustrates opportunities for enhanced agility, scale, and responsiveness.

Inventory management

The World Health Organization says that essential medicines should be available at all times in an adequate health system. The unavailability of medicines has been found to be one of the important barriers to accessing essential medicines in South Africa

Medication shortages are a complex global challenge affecting all countries. This includes South Africa where ongoing medicine shortages are a crisis among public sector hospitals and clinics as it negatively affects the patient care process, can cause loss of disease control or even death.

The consequences of medicine unavailability poor inventory management are widespread and can have detrimental effects on individual and public health. Inventory management has long been a challenge that becomes easier to solve with the right labels, location management processes and barcode scanning devices.

A tool that has improved hospital and clinic efficiency is the Zebra’s GK420 Healthcare printer. These printers are easily integrated into existing local or networked systems, are able to print barcoded labels and can be attached to samples, medicine stock and patient files to boost productivity and reduce downtime.

If staff scan the packaging every time an item is used — whether a mask, blood vial, medical device, medicine or patient file — and input the quantity used, then inventory management system accuracy would automatically improve the utilisation of consumables within a ward, hospital or entire health system.

Identity systems ensure patient safety

Safeguarding patient health is of utmost importance in the healthcare industry, followed by adhering to compliance standards. Patient identification is the foundation of safe and efficient care, especially when healthcare facilities are at maximum capacity. Without it, patient safety is compromised. Zebra’s Healthcare Identity Systems have a 99% patient identification scan rate, safeguarding against misidentified patients and medications.

The DS2208 scanner is designed for continuous usage all day, which significantly reduces downtime and repair costs. These devices are essential to preventing medical errors, improving patient safety and increasing caregiver productivity. Designed specifically for hospitals and healthcare providers, they are made with disinfectant-ready housing and provide dependable and rapid capture of barcodes.

With just one scanner, you can capture the high-density bar codes common on small items.

Healthcare trackers and wearables

As the future of medicine and healthcare is closely connected to the empowerment of patients as well as individuals taking care of their own health through technologies, health trackers, wearables and sensors will have a significant impact in the future.

No matter whether you would like to manage your weight, your stress level, your cognitive capabilities better or you would like to reach an overall fit and energetic state, there is a device for all of these needs and more. With the ability to monitor one’s health at home and share the results remotely with their physician, these devices empower people to take control of their health and make more informed decisions.

Mobile technology enables better patient outcomes

Technology can help to make a patient’s data available to all levels of care, integrating departments holistically. Advances in mobile technology seamlessly connects providers with colleagues, data, resources, and more. Communication breakdowns compromise patient care which is why mobile solutions ensure reliable and clear communication between providers. This allows for more time spent where it matters most: with patients.

Best-in-class tech solutions provide the best care

Digital healthcare solutions ensure inter-departmental automation and improved accuracy from process beginning to end. Any type of event that impacts a large percent of the population could impact hospital capacity and strain resources. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the imperative for end-to-end solutions that are designed by the workers on the frontlines and that fit the unique needs of a healthcare facility.

Healthcare systems can alleviate some of their resource constraints and reduce transactional costs by investing in technology to help better co-ordinate care and move all functions of public health management into the service economy. To best assist the heroes of the frontlines, it is imperative healthcare facilities deliver more than the right care to the right patient at the right time – they must ultimately deliver peace of mind.