Gone are the days when medicine and healthcare was all about a visit to the doctor, who, with the help of supporting staff, would diagnose and treat the patient medically or surgically. Now is the era of sophisticated and highly-advanced technology in healthcare, which despite falling prices, is continuing to gain popularity in the field of medicine.
Decades back, no one could have thought about using a robot, artificial intelligence, gene manipulation or stem cell technology in healthcare. But these technologies have become a reality now, and there are thousands of researchers around the world who are using these emerging medical technologies, getting seasoned with their use and working around the clock for their improvement to achieve the ultimate objective.
Some of these latest trends in healthcare are thought to have made a big impact in 2017. While a few emerging medical technologies have already been employed at some of the best hospitals in the world and are providing more consumer-centric and useful information to the healthcare consumers, the others are still in the development phase.
The following are some of the latest healthcare trends that are currently making or will make a difference in the years to come:
1) Artificial Intelligence (AI)
IBM AI technology Watson Health has already been out there – helping doctors and nurses make intelligent decisions about diagnosis and treatment of patients. However, this AI technology in healthcare is expected to be further strengthened by a boom in the field of AI, especially in case of non-critical conditions.
There will be a day when patients with non-critical conditions will have to no longer visit a doctor or a hospital for treatment. They will simply be required to share a picture of their illness or a record of their symptoms virtually, and would be able to have a virtual consultation or a chat with a nurse who can guide them further.
Voice recognition system used in taking the doctor’s notes, scrutiny of diagnostic machines such as CT scan or MRI and administrative software for billing and scheduling are some of the major applications of AI that are expected to be ready by the end of this year.
2) Emergence of TeleHealth and Online Scheduling
Although the rate has been slow, an increasing number of people are now open to TeleHealth, that is, the practice of sharing all the useful information over a mobile health application. It also includes engaging in a virtual chat or a video conference with a physician, thus eliminating the need of visiting a doctor at his or her clinic or a hospital.
The process of collaborating technology with healthcare started vigorously a few years back with a sudden boom in mobile health applications. The process is expected to reach near completion by the end of this year, resulting in enhanced public health, support healthcare services and increase in patient awareness and education.
On the other hand, healthcare organizations are also expected to make a shift toward online scheduling, for letting patients book their appointment with the doctor available or a physician of their choice virtually. This is because of an increased demand from the consumers.
3) Medical Facilitators
There has been a sudden boom in the number of medical facilitators that have emerged in the medical travel industry in the recent years. These medical facilitators are a blessing for medical tourists, who are unsure about travelling to other countries for medical treatment despite the fact that the treatment is not available in their own country or priced unfairly.
Popular medical facilitators act as an interface between the patient and the doctor or a hospital directly. They book appointments, provide an estimate of the treatment, serve quotes from different hospitals and give you an option to compare and evaluate different options before making a treatment decision. Moreover, they also make your boarding and accommodation arrangements, while offering round the clock customer care services.
The medical travel industry is further expected to grow in 2017, with lots of players entering the field to make the process of seeking medical treatment abroad easy and smooth.
4) Software Platforms and Wearable
The launch of several other software platforms than the ones that already exist is expected to revolutionize the way how the field of healthcare would function in the coming years. The software platforms, mostly available in the form of mobile health apps and desktop health apps, can take away a majority of roles and responsibilities of a doctor.
For example, consumers can now track their calorie intake using health apps and see if they are obese or at a risk of obesity and related health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiac disorders. They can even chart their readings and see if the medications are effective or not. There are other apps as well – such as HealthKit, CareKit and ResearchKit launched by Apple – that aim to focus on clinical trials data and patient care.
In addition, millions of wearables such as Apple watch and FitBit are expected to be sold this year, thus, allowing patients to carefully monitor their health and plan the next steps accordingly.
5) Transparent Healthcare Cost Tools
The cost of medical treatment has always been a concern among patients, especially those who are yet to undergo a major surgery or a diagnostic procedure. Healthcare consumers are now more informed than before and tend to compare the cost of treatment or a diagnostic procedure before undergoing it at a facility.
Catering to the demand of the consumers, different transparent healthcare cost tools are expected to launch soon that allow patients to compare the cost of treatment and select the one that suits them the best. For example, the cost of MRI or a CT scan may vary from one centre to another. Saving even 20 percent of their money means a lot to the patients.
6) More of 3D Bioprinting and Skin Regeneration
Who would have thought that there would be a day when it would be actually possible to regenerate human tissues and organs with the help of one’s own cells? This is now a real possibility, all thanks to the advances made in the stem cell technology.
Even though the technology is in experimental stage, some part of it is expected to be approved for use in medical treatment soon. One such application is the use of stem cells to regenerate a layer of skin in severely burned patients.
Stem cell technology, when combined with AI and 3D bioprinting can help create the actural replicas of different organs. Once in use, these technologies are expected to provide inexpensive and personalized care to all patients.
In a Nutshell:
The above 6 technologies have become trend setters in the industry of Healthcare, thus helping out a lot of patients undergo advanced treatment without any hussle. Please drop your comments below if you agree or disagree.
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