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Our Health Care Is Getting More Intelligent

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3d printed prosthetic
A 3D-printed prosthetic arm. (Photo: Trevor Williams/Getty Images)

When you think about the future of health care, what is it that comes to mind? Robots performing complex procedures? Holograms enabling a health-care professional to be in two places at once? Or maybe it's the integration of intelligent systems that can predict health issues early and help with prevention?

In an industry as important and as complex as health care, embracing innovation is the best way to improve patient care and safety. Integrating intelligent technology into the health-care system is essential to reduce costs and ensure a sustainable future.

So, how can we do this in a meaningful way that will serve patients better and provide health professionals with the tools to achieve the best results? That is a question that we'll be asking at HealthAchieve, the Ontario Hospital Association's annual conference and exhibition.

As a thought leader in intelligent health and the future of health care, Harry Pappas, founder and CEO of the Intelligent Health Association (IHA), a HealthAchieve partner, is a true advocate for the adoption and implementation of new technologies in the health eco-system.

"From wearables to 3D printing, advancements in intelligent health technology are already being implemented in hospitals across North America," says Pappas. "To move health care forward, we need to see new technology used to its fullest potential."

Health-care Apps and Wearables

Today, there are many health-focused apps and wearables on the market. All you need is a smartphone or tablet to be able to effectively monitor things like weight, blood pressure, heart rate, pulse and fitness level. There are even apps that prompt patients to take medication at certain intervals, track food intake and blood sugar. The key to getting the most of these tools is to ensure this data is used properly. When transferred to a primary caregiver, the data allows the physician to eavesdrop on the progress of their patient, creating a broader picture of the patient's day-to-day health.

According to Pappas, there is a direct link between wearable medical technology that can help both patients and clinicians monitor vital signs and symptoms, and improved health.
"It's making us all more aware of what we need to do to be healthier, to reduce cancer and heart disease risks, and to take better care of ourselves. Smart technology is putting us in control of our own health in a way never before possible," says Pappas.

3D Printing

When it comes to transformative technology, there's nothing quite as revolutionary as 3D printing. While currently in its infancy, tremendous strides have been made in the development of regenerative tissue and the printing of anatomical pieces. The applications of this incredible technology will be transformational, taking the guesswork out of surgeries like hip replacement, and providing medical teams with precise information and customized prosthetics and implants to help improve patient care.

In reality, the future of health care is already here, and some of Ontario's state of the art hospitals are leading the way. Check out what happening at Humber River Hospital or Makenzie Health. While it's not mainstream to see robots and holograms in the hospital yet, we have seen Canadians embracing health technology and making sure we use it to its fullest potential in our hospitals. At HealthAchieve, we hope to shed light on what is coming next.

Warren DiClemente, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President, Educational Services, Ontario Hospital Association (OHA). The OHA's signature conference and exhibition, HealthAchieve will run Nov. 7 to 9, 2016 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

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