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Medicine and technology have always formed a natural and potent alliance. Today, however, the relationship between healthcare and tech is stronger and more important than ever before. The digital revolution has not only transformed the daily lives of ordinary citizens, but it has also elicited a sea change in the healthcare industry. This article examines some of the most significant innovations in healthcare tech today and discusses what these developments mean for the future of the medical industry.
The Rise of Telehealth
Perhaps the most obvious innovation in healthcare tech today is the proliferation of telehealth technologies. Though telehealth certainly did not emerge with the outbreak of COVID-19, urgent efforts to contain the spread of the virus set the stage for the power of telehealth to be unleashed and revealed and the results have been, on the whole, exceptional.
For example, wearable health technologies, such as home monitoring devices, are now enabling healthcare providers to accumulate a wealth of patient data that would have been unimaginable previously. Best of all, these data, such as the continuous monitoring of patients’ vital signs, are collected in the patient’s natural environment, their homes, and workplaces. This provides physicians with a far more accurate snapshot of the patient’s health status than data collected in the artificial, and highly stressful, the environment of the clinic or hospital.
Additionally, the ascendancy of telemedicine has also altered how patients and their healthcare teams interact. Through video conferencing, patients can access their care providers from the comfort of their own homes. This means that patients who might otherwise be unable or unwilling to travel to the office, such as the elderly, patients with disabilities, or those who live in rural areas, can access care more easily and more consistently than ever before.
For healthcare providers, this means more opportunities than ever before to support preventative care, cultivate long-lasting and highly-engaged relationships with patients, and to better serve previously marginalized and underserved patient populations.
The Impact of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)
In addition to the profound impact of telehealth on the industry, artificial intelligence systems (A.I.) are also transforming the practice of medicine today. A.I. systems, for example, are increasingly being used to expedite patient diagnosis and to increase the accuracy and efficacy of diagnosis and treatment planning. Through machine learning, for instance, A.I. can engage in cell counting and medical imaging analysis far more rapidly, and often with a far higher degree of accuracy, than humans are capable of.
Similarly, A.I. systems are also being used to enhance patient identification, medical record keeping, and medical record access and analysis. This relieves care providers of some of the burden of paperwork, providing them with instant access to the patient’s up-to-date records and recommendations for evidence-based treatment strategies based on the patient’s data. Equipped with such a wealth of data, physicians can spend less time on documentation and research and more time providing hands-on care.
Expanding the Field of Practice
With the emergence of these new healthcare technologies, the industry has also opened its doors to new opportunities for professional practice. For example, professionals with an interest in both medicine and technology have more options than ever before for marrying the two interests. From health information management to medical coding, healthcare tech has opened the medical field to an array of professionals at every level.
While there is much to celebrate in the power and potential of healthcare tech to transform the industry, there are nevertheless some significant potential risks. For example, the reliance on healthcare tech, the sensitivity of the data involved, and the very real risks to patient care that may arise when technology malfunctions make security a paramount concern. Cybercrime is, of course, a concern in every industry but, as has been seen, its potential repercussions for healthcare are immense. For this reason, practitioners, administrators, and regulators alike must prioritize system security, privacy, and stability at all costs.
In addition, healthcare providers deploying the new technologies must also learn to adapt to a new way of delivering patient care. This will require a pretty significant paradigm shift for many professionals. For example, practitioners must be willing and able not only to learn the new technologies but also to devise strategies for using them without losing empathy or otherwise compromising the doctor/patient relationship. For clinicians unaccustomed to engaging with patients on digital devices rather than face-to-face, for example, such engagement may feel stark, impersonal, and even cold, requiring the clinician to go that extra mile to make a connection with their patient, even from a distance.
Healthcare tech is revolutionizing the healthcare industry in powerful ways. Because of healthcare tech, the future of the industry is perhaps brighter and more exciting than ever before. Through these innovations, healthcare providers can look forward to new opportunities for engaging in the industry, delivering patient care, and optimizing patient outcomes.