Digital health has been revolutionizing the healthcare industry. Not to mention, COVID19 brought our attention to the dire need for virtual and smart technology being accessible worldwide – the ‘digital’ health narrative has never been pursued more passionately before.
With significant advances within healthcare technology, the present and future of healthcare look promising. Artificial Intelligence (AI), VR/AR, 3D-printing, robotics, or nanotechnology coupled with mobile and web applications, including ultra-tech medical equipment, are the way forward for healthcare and healthcare practitioners.
You know what they say, the tool can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you operate it. The many fears associated with futuristic technology take over our jobs. Ultimately, our minds can be placed to rest as, for now; the same technology is proving to be our saving grace.
So how does it work? Digital technology is slowly transforming the unsustainable and often outdated healthcare systems into a stable unit where medical professionals, patients, and the governing bodies can find and provide a cheaper, faster, and effective diagnosis.
Such technologies are the tools we require to battle deadly diseases and outbreaks like Ebola and now Coronavirus.
Moving on to the actual medical technologies that are serving to be the catalyst of change, they are the following:
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For me, AI has the potential to change the healthcare industry completely, so to speak. With AI algorithms, Machine Learning, and Big Data, the possibility of breakthroughs in treatment plans and high-level diagnosis through useful analysis is high. The discovery of new effective drugs and vaccines is also a current possibility.
Here’s proof: “Google Health and DeepMind” created an Artificial Intelligence tool for breast cancer analysis. The said algorithm outperformed all human radiologists at spotting breast cancer for mammograms. And this is just one of the several success stories. Let’s take another.
Virtual Reality is not only finding its stronghold within the healthcare industry but also in the entertainment industry. It is becoming a source of enjoyment and wonder. VR is playing its role in training future surgeons considering VR is becoming more realistic than ever with fast progression. There is proper software that is programmed for the very purpose of the healthcare department.
According to the Harvard Business Review study, the VR-trained surgeons had a whopping 230% boost in their performance, which is quite exceptional but understandable as the VR technology is fascinating in replicating real-life environments.
Other than that, this technology is providing relief to patients suffering from mental stress or any other pain like post-surgical pain and whatnot. VR plays a significant role in distraction and providing much-needed relief from mental anguish.
Augmented Reality is another technological advancement that has open new avenues for the healthcare industry. If you are not familiar with the difference between AR and the above-discussed VR, then virtual Reality blocks you from Reality and takes you into a whole different world. As for AR, it adds to the Reality being captured by the eye of the camera.
Like VR, AR can help medical professionals with prepping for actual operations with real-life operations. Take the example of Case Western Reserve University students, where they are making use of Microsoft HoloLens to study anatomy with the HoloAnatomy app’s help. No need for the actual body to study anatomy when you have a realistic depiction of human anatomy.
Often, news circulates regarding a chip that resides within the layer of skin and enables people to pay directly, making them wallet-less and paperless.
It is precise because technological advancement is rapidly progressing towards nanoparticles and nanodevices, assisting in drug delivery systems, critical operations, and cancer treatment tools.
Take PillCam for example. These are smart pills that are already in practice for colon exams, making them patient-friendly. Moreover, future PillCams will take biopsy samples for analysis, making the likelihood of nano-surgeons a reality.
Moreover, in 2018, MIT researchers already successfully developed a smartphone-controlled electronic pill that can provide diagnostic information or release drugs on a simple smartphone command. This is quite impressive and immediately enables you to imagine nanotechnology’s possibilities in healthcare and the long distance we still have to cover in terms of nano-surgeries.
Possibly the most thriving and visible fields of science and technology are Robotics. People of all ages and from all educational backgrounds have taken a keen interest in creating robots. Fair to say that medical technology didn’t pass on such tremendous opportunity and invested in developing surgical robots, disinfectant robots, and more.
Especially with the battle of COVID-19, doctors are at severe risk of contracting the disease when tending to COVID-positive patients. This is where health robots can significantly limit doctors’ contact with the patients and carry out minimal duties via robots.
Moreover, robots can also play a significant role in providing companionship to the patients that have to stay for longer hours and durations,especially children and mental health patients. Taking a step further, these allocated robots can allow 24/7 monitoring of their loved ones through a webcam, mic, and touch sensors, reliving patients from a sense of loneliness and sadness.
Healthcare Trackers and Wearables
Lastly, we cannot skip on the healthcare trackers and wearables that have enabled an everyday person to keep track of their health, including their heart rate, sleep cycles, and workouts. This technology area is definitely progressing fast as we have new claims coming forward that include oxygen level detection and more.
It is excellent to have commercial healthcare technology that provides us some power over our health. Today, in a digitized world, whether you want to keep track of your heart rate, your sleep cycle, your stress levels, or you aim to use specific analytics to improve your overall health, there is a device, possibly wearable, for that.
We are witnessing a rapid progression of technology where those futuristic sci-fi movies that portray an impeccable display of devices don’t seem too unrealistic to achieve. Mostly when we speak about healthcare, the digital health mission is truly remarkable, to say the least. Hopefully, such progressions will enable future prevention of outbreaks and diseases like Coronavirus!