May 18, 2024

Acage

Outstanding health & fitness

How is Health Education Advancing with New Technology? 

Technology has always impacted the way we live and the way we learn. Look at the different apps and tools available to us today. Video conferencing, interactive tutorials, and more make it possible to gain qualifications from afar. In health education, technology is particularly useful – especially when it comes to teaching critical skills.

What’s more, given that medicine evolves alongside the technology we use, it’s no surprise that students have to adapt to new software, hardware, and processes almost constantly.

But that’s not a bad thing. In fact, technology used to support health education is helping to make learning more convenient, improve learning outcomes, and ensure students graduate feeling more confident in their abilities.

Let’s explore some ways that health education is advancing, thanks to the ongoing evolution of technology and how course delivery is changing for the better.

What are the benefits of using technology in healthcare education? 

Advancements in technology mean that healthcare education is broadly available to more people than ever before, making medicine more inclusive to people from various backgrounds.

Below, we explore some of the specific ways in which technology is supporting healthcare education – but first, consider that people can now learn how to become nurses, pharmacists, and clinicians from afar through online learning.

What’s more, healthcare students can get as close to hands-on experience in nursing and medicine as they can without having to treat real patients. For example – and again, we cover this in more detail below – simulations allow students to practice the new practical skills they learn far before joining the workforce.

Technology is helping to make healthcare education more efficient and effective and is ensuring students graduate with more confidence in their abilities.

But how is technology specifically ensuring that course materials are delivered efficiently, and what are the benefits of some of the most advanced technological breakthroughs in terms of training and progression?

Let’s explore a few key examples and apply them to healthcare students’ experiences, regardless of the roles they are studying for.

VR and AR are becoming commonplace 

One of the biggest advances in health education technology is the use of VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality). 

As strange as it might seem to use VR and AR for education, they have proven endlessly beneficial for healthcare students. For example, teaching surgeons and doctors can create lifelike surgical theaters to enable students to explore clinical rooms, familiarize themselves with tools and surroundings, and even plan and practice surgeries. 

In some cases, VR helps healthcare professionals better understand their patients. For instance, they can simulate certain conditions to allow the user to feel (to a certain degree) what the patient is going through. 

This can help professionals in various fields and specialisms understand their patient’s needs and empathize with them more deeply. Empathy is, of course, a crucial attribute in all walks of healthcare.

VR and AR help healthcare students experience completely-immersive experiences without being on the job itself. This can help to give them a broader understanding of the various situations they will encounter once they graduate as professionals.

It also means that they can practice their teachings in completely safe environments without risking patient lives – which is especially important if they’re not yet up to speed on using certain tools and procedures.

While AR and VR simulations certainly can’t compare to real-life emergencies, they can help students prepare in the event of a crisis so they understand the routes available to take.

Wearable tech is helping people monitor patient vitals and study from afar

Many of us wear tech such as smartwatches to monitor heart rates, blood oxygen, and more – and this tech is also being used in health education to support students learning what to look for in patient data.

During role play scenarios and mock cases, wearable tech can help students learn about what to look for when treating certain conditions and whether or not emergency support is needed. For example, some of the most advanced smartwatches might tell students when patients are experiencing low blood oxygen, meaning they can take action immediately.

While Google Glass, or smart spectacles, might not have taken off hugely in the public sphere, they’re immensely helpful in healthcare education. Google Glass helps students to see first-person viewpoints of various procedures, broadcast directly to them or to entire classrooms.

This type of cooperative education ensures students can receive in-seat tutorials for complex procedures without needing to be in the room with patients or actually attend the theater.

This is not only convenient for the student but is also much safer from a health and safety standpoint. It also ensures that course leaders can deliver real-life scenario training to people all over the world.

Students using Google Glass this way can enter the world of medicine more confidently, having seen procedures first-person, and are much more prepared to take on clinical work than they might be as total novices.

Robotics are reducing risks 

The use of robotics in healthcare has been controversial in some ways, but research and ongoing use have proven that this incredible field of technology is helping to reduce patient risks and deliver healthier outcomes. 

Robotics are highly useful in rehabilitation, sterilizing surgical rooms, and even supporting some complex surgery. Ultimately, robotic aids assist healthcare professionals in daily tasks and provide general patient care. They’re not yet at a point where they can “take jobs” wholesale.

Different types of robotics in healthcare at present include those that aid surgery, provide exoskeleton support, and deliver essential tools and materials. Crucially, medicinal robots come in handy where there is a need to reduce human oversight and error or simply to make processes more efficient.

But how does this all apply to healthcare education? Simple: healthcare students can start learning how to use said robots and slowly adapt to typical medical procedures, with technology acting as “training wheels.” Yet again, this helps students reduce potential risks and accidents in real-life clinics.

Beyond education, robotics help nurses and medical professionals make more confident decisions and reduce human error, so it’s highly recommended that they learn how to use these tools as early as possible!

AI and computer-assisted learning are helping people see patterns and learn easier 

We are all seeing the benefits of using AI (Artificial Intelligence) more in our daily lives, which goes for healthcare students, too. 

AI is commonly used in healthcare to help deliver confident patient diagnoses, handle healthcare documentation and administration, support patient engagement, and even create certain patient care plans. That said, at the time of writing, AI in healthcare is still very much in its infancy. Like robotics, we’re not yet at a point where we can delegate everything to robots.

Thanks to the quickly-advancing developments in AI (such as advanced machine learning, natural language processing or NLP, and basic task automation), healthcare professionals can now delegate specific tasks such as calendar management, patient scheduling, and even some customer service to lines of code.

Many professionals also use AI in healthcare to break down large amounts of patient data so they can easily analyze trends in their vitals and make more confident treatment and surgery decisions. This data management also helps drug researchers develop safer, more effective medicine, too.

For students, learning how to use AI in healthcare and medicine is also becoming more commonplace. When it comes to learning from afar, for example, students can use generative AI to build study plans, start researching certain topics, and get to grips with data analytics.

Course leaders can use AI in health education to support self-learning among their students, too.

Online education is breaking down boundaries 

Thanks to the boom in online learning and remote studies, healthcare education has never been more widely available. It’s now possible for people worldwide to dive deep into studies, regardless of whether or not they work certain hours or have families to care for.

As a result, many online universities and course leaders are flexible when it comes to supporting remote students. For example, PMHNP online programs available through Wilkes University are available to study at your own pace, with self-learning modules and directed study supplied to work around your own timetable.

Many people had to adapt to online learning during the global COVID-19 pandemic, meaning studying from home is now part of the “new normal.” In fact, many students expect it from the organizations they enroll with.

Remote learning also ensures people from disparate communities and rural areas have access to the same learning and career growth opportunities as those who might live and work closer to cities. Previously, people entering healthcare needed to head to physical colleges and universities – which wasn’t always possible for those based further afield.

Therefore, online learning technologies – such as course delivery, document collaboration tools, and video conferencing – are all helping healthcare bodies tap into a well of talent that might otherwise be overlooked.

Simulations are making roleplay more realistic 

Role playing certain scenarios is essential during healthcare education – it’s a great way to prepare students for what they are likely to experience or could face during their careers without risking patient lives or disrupting cases and routines in real-life clinics.

Learning to adapt to emergencies and think critically when lives might be at stake isn’t easy when you’re in the thick of it. Therefore, hospitals and clinics now produce mock simulations where students can explore different tools, use patient dummies, and get accustomed to typical clinic surroundings before they graduate.

Simulation technology has come a long way in a short space of time. As mentioned earlier, it’s now possible to deliver simulated scenarios to students through AR and VR. However, in many cases, even remote and distanced students get the opportunity to attend physical simulations before graduating.

Delivering course material this way also supports tutors and course leaders. By watching their students react to mock situations in physical environments, they can provide more detailed and supportive feedback. That means, essentially, students can graduate feeling more confident in their abilities.

They can head to their first day in healthcare or in certain emergency situations without feeling out of their depth. There will still be support from other staff and mentors during the early days of employment, but student graduates will hit the ground running faster with even a little bit of simulation knowledge behind them.

Health education and technology: a symbiotic relationship

Technological evolution continues to help healthcare professionals treat people with a variety of conditions and ailments. What’s more, learning how to treat said patients has never been more flexible or convenient, thanks to recent strides in study tech.

As you can see, evolving technologies such as AR, VR, and hospital simulations can help students easily adapt to fast-paced scenarios and emergency cases. Beyond this, online learning tools and conferencing software help people dive into modules and materials from wherever they might be in the world, and at any time.

Technology, as we’ve explored above, helps medical students gain confidence and adapt more quickly to typical scenarios in clinics and hospitals once they graduate. It’s always safe to say that medical professionals never stop learning – but by using some of the tech detailed above, budding nurses and clinicians can get a fantastic head start.

Beyond this, who’s to say where technology could take healthcare and medicinal study in the years to come? AI and automation are still hot technological properties right now, for example, meaning students will likely expect further support from robot delegation in the years ahead.

Currently, however, thanks to a world that’s adapted hugely to remote working and study on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic, students and course leaders are using distanced learning tools to their advantage. 

There are still benefits to heading into campus – for example, to practice physical skills – but by broadening the study net by keeping things remote, hospitals and clinics have a broader selection of candidates than ever before. In any case, it’s never been more exciting to get into healthcare study.