The world we live in is changing rapidly, and the demands of medical patients are shifting right along with it. Millennials, for example, find the current process of going to see a medical practitioner inconvenient, making them far less likely to book preventative appointments than previous generations. But, as these new problems pop up, so too do new solutions.
This demand for convenience is working alongside emerging technologies to bring in a new age of medical practice. To learn more, we’ve taken a look at the biggest changes driving the future of healthcare.
Contactless Payment Technology
Contactless payments are a game changer for the medical industry, prioritizing both convenience and health for easier interactions.
These handy card readers enable both patients and healthcare workers to avoid physical contact while dealing with payments. Keeping a distance has become a healthcare priority since the COVID-19 pandemic, when the importance of avoiding unnecessary contact in medical settings was highlighted around the world. Card readers make that a little bit simpler.
A terminal like the SumUp Plus card reader gives patients multiple ways to pay, too, including Chip and Pin, contactless card payments, and digital wallets. This adds that all-important convenience to the experience, giving your patients freedom and flexibility in their interactions with your medical practice.
One of the most significant changes happening in the healthcare industry is the incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI). With the almost limitless potential to transform diagnoses and treatment, it’s already being put to use and is expected to shape the world of medicine for decades to come.
There are plenty of uses for AI, including:
- Diagnosing physical ailments using images
- Diagnosing internal ailments using symptoms
- Predicting future ailments based on current lifestyle
- Creating personalized treatment plans for patients
For patients, AI brings with it the opportunity to receive a quick diagnosis and remote treatment, all without the need to book an in-person appointment. This drastically reduces wait times for patients who need a face-to-face appointment and takes the strain from overworked medical practitioners.
It can also be used by medical professionals to improve their diagnoses and treatment. Working as a second opinion, they’ll be less likely to miss potential problems, reducing the chance of human error in healthcare.
Wearable tech has become commonplace in society, with smartwatches in particular being adopted by people of all ages. In the healthcare industry, it’s having a big impact, too.
Wearables have given medical practitioners a new way to monitor their patients. Rather than putting them through rigorous testing that can take hours at a time, the doctor can give the patient a piece of wearable technology that’ll monitor them while they get on with their life, making it a far more convenient process.
Wearable technology can monitor a number of different body activities, from heart rate to blood pressure, and provide medical professionals with valuable data to improve treatment plans. They can continue to be worn throughout treatment, too, for round-the-clock monitoring that doesn’t negatively impact the patient’s day-to-day life.
App Appointments and Video Calls
60% of Americans use online tools to book their appointments rather than calling up or scheduling in person. This is driven by the desire for convenience, giving the patient the freedom to book when they want, where they want, and without being put on hold.
Online scheduling goes hand-in-hand with an increase in smartphone use. The adoption of mobiles into everyday life means that patients can now easily schedule appointments using apps, leading to less interruption in their day.
Smartphones have also enabled both the ability and increasing demand for video calls, using apps like Zoom and Skype for digital appointments. Rather than coming in to see a medical practitioner, patients can have a quick call from the comfort of their home or even while they’re at work, showing the doctor exactly what’s wrong without making an unnecessary journey. The doctor can then diagnose them on the call and create a treatment plan, or ask them to come in for a follow-up face-to-face meeting.
In one survey, around 60% of respondents agreed that remote consultations are more convenient than in-person appointments, and 25% actively preferred them to other methods. This figure is only expected to increase as tech-savvy Gen Z comes of age.
Online Medical Services
Sticking with apps, convenience is also driving the popularity of online medical services. With a focus on making simple processes easier for the patient to kick-start without the need for a practitioner, it’s a great way to boost healthcare autonomy and provide a more flexible approach to treatments.
The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, for example, has created an app that lets patients:
- Check medical records
- Order repeat prescriptions
- Receive appointment reminders
- Manage appointments (booking, canceling, and changing)
UnitedHealthcare has a similar app for American patients with many of the same features. They also make it easier for users to manage their healthcare costs, staying on top of any bills and checking the costs of different services and procedures.
At-Home Medical Services
Thanks to technology and innovation, an increasing number of medical services can be done at home. In terms of convenience, it doesn’t get much easier than this.
Trained medical practitioners can now take portable devices that were once only found in hospitals directly to patients’ homes. From x-rays to ultrasounds, a lot of essential services aren’t confined to medical practices anymore, giving those in need a new way to seek treatment.
There are also an increasing number of at-home medical kits available. These can test for a whole number of medical conditions and ailments, including:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
These kits are delivered to the patient, who can then follow the instructions and send the kit back. Results are sent via text or email for a quick, convenient way to stay on top of common health problems.
Healthcare always has been – and always will be – shaped by the demands of patients. In the modern digital age, that means both convenience and technology are leading the way, driving a wide range of changes from contactless payments to virtual appointments.
If you’re a medical student, one of the best ways you can get to grips with modern healthcare is with real-world experience. Take a look at our Medical Internship Program to learn more and find your chance to get out in the field.