The integration of faster internet into the healthcare sector has been a game changer, significantly enhancing patient outcomes. This technological advancement has streamlined processes, facilitated real-time communication, and improved access to vital health resources.
This article explores five key ways in which faster internet has revolutionised the healthcare sector.
1) Improved Patient Outcomes Through Enhanced Communication
The cornerstone of effective healthcare is swift and accurate communication. Faster internet speeds enable real-time data transfer, which is crucial in critical care scenarios.
A study, published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, on telehealth (which is heavily reliant on internet connectivity), has shown positive outcomes in healthcare, particularly in the management of chronic conditions and in the field of behavioural health.
This study found that telehealth interventions are highly effective for remote patient monitoring and communication, especially for chronic conditions like cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
The improvements noted in these areas include reduced mortality rates, enhanced quality of life, and fewer hospital admissions.
2) Streamlined Processes and Reduced Errors
Faster internet also contributes to reducing medical errors, a leading cause of patient harm.
A report by Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests that more than 250,000 deaths per year in the U.S. are due to medical errors. Robust internet connectivity facilitates the effective use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs), ensuring accurate and timely patient data management. This integration reduces errors associated with manual data entry and delayed information access.
3) Enhanced Access to Healthcare Resources
Rural and remote areas often face significant challenges in accessing quality health are. Faster internet bridges this gap through telehealth services.
A study published in the journal Sensors International concluded that “the most extensive telemedicine application can get health coverage closer to people who live in rural areas where quality treatment is otherwise impossible to access”.
Additionally, telemedicine links clinicians with patients for long-term lifestyle changes and eases medical staff workload by reducing patient check-in duties.
Telemedicine enhances healthcare quality, expands access, and reduces the need for patient and doctor travel.
4) Facilitating Research and Innovation
The healthcare industry is continuously evolving, with research and innovation at its core. Fast internet speeds are essential for the seamless transfer of large data sets, often required in medical research. This capability accelerates the pace of research, leading to quicker discoveries and advancements in treatment options.
5) Cost Efficiency
Investing in faster internet also proves to be cost-effective in the long term.
According to research published on The American Medical Association website, telehealth services, which depend on high-speed internet, have the potential to save the U.S. healthcare system billions annually by reducing the need for in-person visits and hospitalisations.
Specially, the research asserts that:
- Around one-fifth of visits to emergency rooms could potentially be eliminated.
- Nearly a quarter of all healthcare office and outpatient services could be conducted via telemedicine, with an additional 9% being possible through a mix of virtual and near-virtual methods.
- Approximately one-third of the services usually provided by home health attendants could be carried out through virtual means.
- A small percentage (2%) of outpatient services could be transferred to patients’ homes, supported by technology-enabled medical administration.
These projections suggest a considerable shift towards telemedicine in various aspects of healthcare, emphasising its potential in enhancing efficiency and accessibility.
6) Improved Patient Engagement and Satisfaction
The convenience of telehealth services, enabled by fast internet, leads to greater patient engagement and satisfaction.
A survey by the National Business Group on Health reported that 96% of large employers in the U.S. planned to offer telehealth services by 2020, indicating its growing acceptance and positive reception among patients.
Challenges and Future Prospects
While the benefits are evident, the transition to a digitally enhanced healthcare system is not without its challenges. Issues such as data security, privacy, and the digital divide must be addressed to fully realise the potential of faster internet in healthcare.
However, the trajectory is promising, with continuous advancements in technology and infrastructure paving the way for a more efficient, accessible, and patient-centric healthcare system. And all this powered by fast internet.
But What is Fast Internet?
Fast internet speed refers to the rate at which data is transferred between your device and the internet.
While the specific definition of “fast” can vary based on individual needs and usage, generally, a speed of 200 Mbps (megabits per second) or higher is considered to be fast. A technology like enterprise ethernet is considered fast, with speeds ranging from 100 Mbps all the way up to 1,000 Mbps.
This speed is sufficient for most online activities, including streaming high-definition videos, online gaming, and efficient browsing. The type of activities you engage in and the number of devices connected to your network can influence the speed requirements.
The integration of faster internet into the healthcare industry holds immense potential for improving patient outcomes. Through enhanced communication, streamlined processes, expanded access to resources, and fostering research and innovation, this technological leap forward is set to revolutionise the way health care is delivered.