Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry has been pushed to reevaluate many of its common practices and develop new technologies to keep both patients and providers safe. The industry’s adaptation to the pandemic spurred the development of new medical technologies as well as the integration of technologies designed for other industries, from wearable medical technology to the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in medicine.
Despite the rapidly advancing technology, care providers are still plagued by the question: How do we make patients as comfortable as possible? While this is certainly a multi-faceted question with many potential solutions, there is a simple way to ensure happier, healthier patients that is often overlooked – wireless power.
Whether integrated in the operating room or embedded in medical devices, wireless power technology has the potential to enhance the patient experience from intake to discharge.
Implantable Medical Devices
The use of implantable medical devices such as pacemakers that assist in monitoring, diagnosing, and treating patients has grown alongside the rising incidence of chronic disorders and age-related diseases. These devices provide patients with the freedom to live their day-to-day lives outside of hospital rooms attached to machines. Yet, implantable devices typically require invasive procedures for routine maintenance and battery replacements. The next step in enabling patient freedom is to reduce the need for these procedures that are not only uncomfortable to patients, but often leave them with a hefty medical bill. With wireless power, it’s possible to charge the devices through the skin, simply by placing a receiver next to the body location of the implant.
Advancements in wireless technology also enable remote monitoring of implanted devices, so doctors and patients always have real-time access to bio data to ensure the best treatment outcomes. For example, a healthcare provider might recommend an implantable continuous glucose monitor, or CGM, for a diabetic patient so their glucose levels can be monitored constantly. CGMs use wireless technology to relay information to an external transmitter which then sends alerts to the patient via their mobile phone. Not only does this technology provide the patient with real time alerts to take better control of their eating and insulin injections, it also saves patients the trouble of manually testing their glucose levels – or worse, the consequences of forgetting a test.
In the Operating Room
When people think of the operating room, they often picture a cold, sterile environment with beeping monitors. It goes without saying that just the thought of an operating room can make people feel uncomfortable. A safe, sterile environment is one of the most important factors of a successful procedure. As connected technologies are increasingly introduced to operating rooms, it is essential to keep those factors in mind.
Today, many of these technologies have charging ports that can make sterilization of the technology and tools used in the operating room difficult, thus leading to additional expenses and time needed to properly sterilize equipment. Operating rooms equipped with wireless power technology can avoid these problems through the use of port-free equipment embedded with wireless charging capabilities, making them significantly easier to sterilize than their corded counterparts. The elimination of cords in the operating room also improves the mobility of surgeons and other care providers in the environment while eliminating the risk of anyone tripping over cords.
Oftentimes when a patient is admitted to a healthcare facility, a provider will have to enter the patient’s room every few hours to record information – including checks in the middle of the night. These check-ins are often disruptive to the patient and take valuable time out of the provider’s day. Wireless data transfer can address these issues. Monitors equipped with wireless data transmission share patient information with healthcare professionals in a separate room instantaneously without need to disturb the patient. In the case of an emergency, providers can provide faster care when mere seconds are a matter of life and death.
After surgical procedures, patients often wake up from their anesthesia in an unfamiliar environment connected to various monitors which are in turn connected to power outlets. These monitors can severely limit patient mobility and cause additional stress, especially in patients who are disoriented from anesthesia or other factors. Monitors equipped with wireless power allow patients to move about freely without fear of disconnecting their monitors and save providers the hassle of having to detach and reattach monitors to their patients after something as simple as a bathroom visit.
With applications spanning across the entirety of a patient’s journey, wireless power technology has immense potential to enhance patient experience and serve as a powerful tool to simplify common practices in the healthcare industry.