The healthcare industry is one of the largest in the world. This is thanks in part to our ever-growing population and the revolutionary strides being made in the field of medicine. We often hear about new ways to fight illnesses and develop treatments to save precious lives around the world. Moreover, COVID-19 has truly changed the way that the world works. It has changed the way we approach treatment, prevention, isolation, and lifestyle choices. It has also unearthed some worrying misconceptions and also set the precedent for the future that is right around the corner.
As time goes on and innovations come forward, all walks of life will be changed. Thanks to the pandemic, the healthcare industry has accelerated its digitization. There is now more investment to incorporate different technologies into healthcare than ever before. Artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and extender reality are just a few of the many tools being used to push healthcare into the future.
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With technology at its most advanced, there are many different ways this will impact the healthcare industry. Let’s get into it!
The term remote working or remote learning is commonplace nowadays. However, the pandemic has turbocharged remote interactions across all walks of life with healthcare being no different. According to a report from Deloitte, remote interactions are the future because of convenience.
When it comes to remote healthcare, the good this can do has no bounds. For instance, a doctor in the US can now treat patients in rural parts of India. A doctor in Barcelona can regularly check on patients in Pakistan and so on. This makes it easier for people to get the treatment or diagnosis they need when it comes to their ailments.
Moreover, thanks to wearable technology becoming more advanced every day, it is now possible to measure blood pressure, oxygen levels, stress levels, heart rate rhythm, and other vital signs. These metrics can be uploaded and shared with a medical professional without needing to physically get up and go there. This phenomenon is termed virtual wards which is seemingly the future of healthcare as we know it.
To ensure that this process is as smooth as possible, it is important to have a strong and stable internet connection to work with. Whether it is in your home or in the hospital, AT&T has you covered. Click here if you want to learn more about the plans it has in store for you!
Extended Reality (XR)
The term extended reality encompasses augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR). These three involve using different forms of tech to add another layer of reality for different purposes.
Many of us know of the entertainment and gaming side of things but there is so much more to extended reality. Imagine the possibilities of virtual environments built identical to the real world. Training medical professionals using VR will allow them to be immersed in situations they would face in the real world. Their actions would have different outcomes based on what they do, all of which could be programmed into the system. The biggest benefit of this is the unlimited amount of tries you get. You can make a mistake as many times as you want and the simulation could be started from the beginning. This is a welcome departure from having to use cadavers which, once used, cannot be reused for complex situations. This removes the healthcare sector’s need for cadavers.
Virtual reality can also be used when it comes to treating patients. For example, VR can be used to train children with autism. They can be made to explore different situations virtually before experiencing them in the real world. It can help with anxiety, depression, and even schizophrenic treatments in non-threatening environments.
The first time AR rose to prominence was in 2016 when Pokémon Go took the world by storm. That game was a perfect real-world use of AR which, unlike VR, adds another layer to the existing reality instead of creating a new one. AccuVein is an example of this wherein a doctor can use heat signatures to detect blood flow when trying to find veins to administer an injection. The Microsoft HoloLens is used by surgeons in operation theaters to see real -time information about the patient in front of them, allowing them to make the right decisions based on real information.
This allows medical professionals to know exactly how to handle the situation in front of them. Using these technologies will help not only allow them to treat their patients better, but it will also give them the ability to learn and subsequently, teach more.
Big data is all the craze nowadays. There is an entire industry being formed around the acquisition, cleaning, and interpretation of big data. Using artificial intelligence, gargantuan amounts of raw, unstructured, and messy data are being cleaned, processed, and presented to help decision make better decisions. In healthcare, this data could be MRI scans, X-rays, blood pressure information, and other types of data that would allow healthcare professionals to gather a better understanding of diseases.
AI can interpret data which will allow it to gather information on communicable diseases, vaccine distribution, and surprisingly, handwritten doctors’ notes as well. All of this information can be used to improve the healthcare that people get which is the main goal in this situation.
Building on AR as mentioned earlier, AI can use sensors and software to accurately display different metrics in real-time. AI can be used in the form of a chatbot when patients want to ask medical professionals simple questions about different illnesses without actually speaking to the doctor in question. This could save time, money, and the trip to the doctor.
Perhaps the most promising benefit of AI in healthcare is preventive medicine. By studying different trends and interpreting medical data, healthcare professionals can find a problem right when it starts. For instance, you can easily tell a fever is coming when your body temperature begins to rise abnormally. Heart disease can be caught when your smartwatch notices irregularities in your heartbeat. Preventive medicine has short-term and long-term implications. In the short term, it can save a person by catching the problem early on. In the long term, it allows the healthcare industry to prevent outbreaks, create better lifestyle suggestions, and also make a case for themselves when it comes to suggesting different diets.
A combination of big data, AI, and remote healthcare translates into many different innovations in the healthcare industry. With access to patient data, the ability to interpret large datasets and isolate different behaviors, and then convey your findings with ease, patients have it incredibly easy. Using their findings, healthcare professionals can create personalized treatments for patients and discard the obsolete one-size-fits-all method.
Empa healthcare in Sweden has made use of AI to predict precise doses of painkillers to be administered to their patients. This will prove effective when it comes to patients suffering from chronic illnesses by giving them a treatment that fits what they need, not what is made for the masses. Novo Nordisk and Glooko have teamed up to create tools for diabetic patients to monitor their vitals. This translates to custom recommendations for exercise, diet, illness management, and lifestyle choices all thanks to blood sugar readings.
In the field of genomics, modern technology has been used to map out the individual genomes of a person. Genomes are the DNA structure of any living organism which, when studied, answer many questions about why our bodies work as they do and what makes things tick. With such precise information, it becomes infinitely easier for personalized medicine to be recommended. By knowing what a person’s genome looks like, you know exactly what goes on inside them. There is no better way to recommend a treatment than when you know what a person needs and how much of it they need it.
As long as there are humans on earth, healthcare will be a necessity. As time passes, technology gets more advanced and sooner rather than later, this technology will be incorporated into the field of medicine and treatment. It is important to know that a combination of big data, artificial intelligence, extended reality, and personalized treatments is a means to make the present and the future much better for all. With what we learn today, a better tomorrow can be achieved.