The healthcare industry seems only to be getting more technologically advanced as time passes. With developments in artificial intelligence, 3D printing, VR/AR, nanotechnology, and robotics, executives need to familiarize themselves with these developments to be successful. The future of healthcare lies in working alongside technology, and healthcare workers need to embrace these emerging advances.
Are you concerned about robotics replacing your position or that artificial intelligence will control the healthcare industry? While these may be half-truths, there’s a plethora of fake news and other imaginary dystopias. However, these all have something in common: an overarching fear about the future of technology. But no matter how scary it may be at this moment, technological advances are not stopping any time soon. That’s why it’s crucial to approach technology with an open mind and start preparing for the changing world by gaining as much knowledge as possible.
Humans and Tech Working Hand-In-Hand
Technology can help aid and improve our healthcare system if medical professionals learn how to remain two steps ahead. In medicine and healthcare, technology can help transform unsustainable systems into sustainable ones and equalize the relationship between patients and medical professionals. Not only that, but it can also streamline cheaper, faster, more effective solutions for diseases, simply leading to healthier individuals overall.
So, what does this all look like in practice? Throughout this article, we’ll explore the ten ways medical technology is reshaping the healthcare industry.
1. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to redesign the healthcare industry completely. Yes, we understand that’s quite a bold statement, but AI algorithms can design treatment plans, mine medical records, and rapidly create medicine. For example, Google’s DeepMind created an AI for breast cancer analysis. The algorithm completely outperformed human radiologists on pre-selected data sets to identify breast cancer, averaging at 11.5%. On that note, imagine the horizons that would open up for humanity if medical professionals started implementing this powerful technology.
2. Virtual Reality
We’re not sure about you, but the term virtual reality (VR) has been circulating for quite some time now. It’s been on the rise and is now exponentially changing the lives of physicians and patients alike. VR is now being used to train future surgeons for operations, significantly aiding in their overall end performance. The technology has also proven to be very effective in patient pain management. Women are being provided with VR headsets during labor to visualize soothing landscapes. Patients who suffer from gastrointestinal, neurological, cardiac, and post-surgical pain have shown a decline in pain levels while using VR to distract painful stimuli.
3. Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) differs from virtual reality in two respects: users don’t lose touch with reality, and it puts information into their eyesight extremely fast. These features enable AR to become a driving force in the future of healthcare, both on the providers’ and receivers’ sides. It can aid medical professionals in better preparing for real-life operations, along with enabling surgeons to enhance their skills.
4. Healthcare Trackers, Wearables, and Sensors
As the future of healthcare and medicine is closely connected to the empowerment of individuals taking care of their health, we can’t leave out health trackers, wearables, and sensors. These are quality devices that help us learn more about ourselves and take control of our lives.
Members of our team have experience using Fitbit products, although there are plenty of others out there equally as great. No matter whether you’d like to manage your stress, weight, cognitive capabilities, or reach an overall energetic state, there’s a device for pretty much all of your needs. The beauty behind these new tech-fueled devices is that they truly make patients the point of care. With an ability to monitor your health at home and share results remotely with a physician, they help empower people to control their health and make informed decisions.
5. Genome Sequencing
The US government has invested billions toward the Human Genome Project, which is an insanely huge price. Along with that, back in January of 2017, Illumina, a DNA sequencing giant, unveiled a new machine that’s expected to order up your entire genome for less than $100. The company’s CEO reiterated that they’re still working towards that particular benchmark. That would mean that we might have a cheaper genetic test than a general blood test, which is insane. Tests such as these have a mass amount of potential, being that you can learn valuable information regarding drug sensitivities, medical conditions, and family history. Moreover, there are several fields already leveraging genome sequencing, such as nutrigenomics.
We’re living at the dawn of a nanomedicine age, and we have reason to believe that nanodevices and nanoparticles will operate soon as cancer treatment tools, drug delivery systems, or tiny surgeons. Dating back to 2014, there were even researchers from the Max Planck Institute who designed scallop-like microbots that could swim through our bodily fluids. Currently, smart pills are already in use creating a noninvasive and patient-friendly way to perform colon exams. Nanotechnology is also progressing in the form of smart patches. For example, a France-based company, Grapheal, demonstrated a smart patch that allows continual monitoring of wounds, and its graphene core can even stimulate wound healing.
Robotics are one of the most exciting and fastest-growing fields in the healthcare industry. Developments range from surgical robots through robot companions to exoskeletons, pharmabotics, or disinfectant robots. In 2019 Europe saw its first exoskeleton-aided surgery and a tetraplegic man capable of using his brain to control an exoskeleton. Robot companions, in particular, have their place in the medical field to help alleviate loneliness, aid children with chronic illness, or even treat mental health issues. Some of these robots even have touch sensors, microphones, and cameras for owners to interact with them.
3D printing has the capacity to bring wonders to the healthcare industry. We’re now able to print artificial limbs, bio tissues, pills, blood vessels, and so much more. The pharmaceutical industry is especially benefiting from this technology. FDA-approved 3D-printed drugs were brought to fruition in 2015, and researchers have now started working on 3D-printing. “polypills”. These contain many layers of medications to help patients adhere to a therapeutic plan.
How to Leverage Tech in Your Medical Practice
As a medical professional, it’s your responsibility to stay up to date on the emerging technology trends in the healthcare industry. Everything is becoming more technologically advanced, which is why it’s crucial to have IT professionals in your corner who can offer guidance and insight.
You have a massive pool of IT professionals out there to choose from. But, finding people with the perfect blend of certifications, skills, integrity, and availability is far from easy. You may spend endless hours trying to weed through candidates, and trial-and-error can become quite an expensive hiring strategy. Not only that, it takes time and energy away from focusing on the things that matter most.
Old and unreliable technology is one of the biggest hindrances to most businesses’ productivity and growth. Managed IT services are a great option for most healthcare providers, but there’s only one way to find out if they’ll work for you. Scheduling an IT consultation will give you an informed approach to resolving your issues for good.