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Reducing infections in young patients

March 20, 2018
From the March 2018 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Technology is also taking a role in reducing infections for pediatric patients. Moving the children out of pediatric waiting rooms is slowly occurring with the use of telehealth and virtual visits, when possible. The added development of connected devices like the CellScope to do a virtual ear exam and the Spirotel, a pocket-sized spirometer for respiratory analysis, can reduce the need for some doctor’s office visits, thus eliminating potential exposure to harmful bacteria and active viruses.

It won’t be long before medical advice from big data will be available even on home devices such as Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa. These intelligent/virtual personal assistants will soon combine with WebMD and other medical data databases to provide guidance on identifying symptoms and preliminary medical advice. Advanced next-generation software tied to medical data is more commonly used by young pediatricians looking for faster symptom analysis which can be beneficial to a large percentage of patients.

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Beyond a doctor’s acceptance of technology, some health systems are turning to big data such as IBM’s Jeopardy-winning supercomputer Watson. As health systems begin a data dump of patient information into computers with artificial intelligence (AI) capability, new treatment options are appearing. Watson, filled with cancer treatment plans provided by doctors at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, along with Watson’s abundant medical research data uncovered additional options beneficial to patients. No Ivy League med school graduate can match the enormous amount of medical research combined with AI in treating any patient.

Beyond new technologies, pediatric care in hospitals still means concern about the same organisms present in adult care facilities, including drug-resistant bacteria, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Consequently, antimicrobial stewardship plays an equally important role in preventing the emergence of resistance in bacterial infections in children's hospitals. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) continues to recommend mandatory immunizations for all staff. Some pediatric facilities also require all contractors and vendors to be immunized.

As medical delivery continues to evolve with the emergence of new technologies, pediatric care still requires holding on to basic concepts of medicine now overlaid on different platforms. Working to keep pediatric patients safe while in medical offices and in hospital care requires understanding the child’s developing immune system and routes of exposure. Hospitals and clinics that specialize in pediatric care have benefited from new technology, big data research and clinical studies that have provided lessons in safer practices that can increase quality outcomes for children.

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