Technology Is Dramatically Changing Our Healthcare
We all know technology is evolving at a rapid pace. It’s difficult to keep up. In fact, it’s almost impossible.
The number of electronic gadgets seems to increase daily. Nearly every transaction is done over the Internet these days.
And just try talking to a teenager or young adult and see if you understand everything they’re saying. It’s like a whole new language has developed around technological advancements.
Many of us might not need to be on top of things when it comes to the latest electronic game. But it would behoove us to understand how emerging technology affects our healthcare. Because that’s something we’ll need to increasingly deal with.
Is That Nurse a Robot?
Today I want to look at five ways technology is changing the way we experience healthcare. And how staying in touch with it can help us get the most out of it. One of the advances we’re seeing is in digital healthcare technologies.
I’m talking about artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. As well as personal trackers and nanotechnology. And augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). With AR, users control their real-world presence. With VR, the system controls the user.
I don’t know about you, but some of this stuff seems a little scary to me. Humans make a lot of bad decisions but I’m not sure I want AI controlling the world. And next time I’m in the hospital, I don’t want to look up from my bed and see a robotic nurse.
OK, those are still far-fetched examples. But the reality is that technological development is transforming healthcare. And it’s going to continue to do so.
It’s Inevitable – Let’s Embrace It
Instead of being frightened by it, we should learn as much about it as possible and embrace it. After all, digital technology has the potential to improve healthcare systems that are – let’s face it – not exactly perfect right now.
If new technologies can make healthcare services more effective at diagnosing and treating conditions, I’m all for it. Not to mention making it faster and less expensive.
First here’s a definition of healthcare technology. It’s any IT tools or software designed to boost hospital and administrative productivity. And give new insights into medicines and treatments. Or improve the overall quality of care provided.
Dr. Bertalan Mesko wrote a book titled The Guide to the Future of Medicine. Here are some of the ways he believes medical technology is reshaping healthcare.
Trackers, Wearables and Sensors
One of the fears many of us have is that there’s something wrong inside of us. But we don’t know what it is.
We can’t run to the doctor every time we think something might be wrong. And with trackers, wearables and sensors, there is no need to.
Do you want to mange your weight? Or maybe your stress level? What about your cognitive capabilities? There are devices for all these and more.
Some folks use Fitbit Ionic to monitor their sleep and track their workouts. Others use a Muse headband for meditation. And there are many others. The idea is to learn more about your physical and mental health in order to take control of it.
The author believes AI has the potential to completely redesign healthcare. He says AI algorithms can design treatment plans and create drugs more quickly than any medical professional could.
For example, Google’s DeepMind was able to identify breast cancer 11.5 percent better than human radiologists.
AI is already assisting in repetitive, tedious jobs that used to take up the time of nurses and doctors. This frees them up to focus on important matters.
Another way AI is speeding up the healthcare process is by mining medical records. By collecting, storing and analyzing these records, AI can help medical personnel make decisions quicker for the benefit of patients.
At Case Western Reserve University, students use the MicroSoft HoloLens to study anatomy.
In this way, they can study the human body – inside and out. Without needing actual human bodies.
Magic Leap is a company that is bringing its headset to the healthcare arena. They are partnering with a variety of companies to develop products.
They have connected with SyncThink for brain health. As well as XRHealth for a therapeutic program. And BrainLab for spatial computing technology.
Virtual reality is another way healthcare is being improved. It’s used to train future surgeons. And to allow today’s surgeons to practice operations.
The Harvard Business Review conducted a recent study. It showed a 230 percent performance boost for surgeons who trained with virtual reality.
Women going through labor have benefitted by wearing VR headsets. They watched and listened to soothing landscapes, which helped them better handle their pain.
The same has been true for patients suffering from gastrointestinal pain. As well as cardiac, neurological and post-surgical pain.
The Future Is Already Here
Of course, there are so many more ways technology is improving healthcare. Genome sequencing can tell us about our drug sensitivities. Plus our medical conditions and family medical histories.
Nanotechnology is on the verge of acting as a drug delivery system. Plus providing cancer treatment tools and even tiny surgeons.
Robotics has already produced exoskeleton-aided surgery. In Europe, a man incapable of moving his body controlled an exoskeleton with his brain.
Technology will continue to enhance healthcare for all of us. Fortunately, we don’t need to understand every detail of how it works to benefit from the advancements.