With huge waiting times, short doctor appointments and non-stop testing still very much apparent in today’s world of healthcare, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the industry has made limited strides in recent times. However, this is far from the truth.
In reality, a lot is changing – and much quicker than you might think.
Thanks to the continual rise in technological advancements over recent years, medical care is now implementing these associated changes into its various patient-led processes. This, in turn, is changing the way in which we will all receive medical care in the future, helping improve the patient experience overall.
But how exactly is technology helping things? And what does the future of patient experience look like?
In this article, we will be answering both these questions and more, highlighting some of the key ways technology is creating a new and improved future for both the healthcare industry on the whole, as well as the patients it incorporates.
The Rise of Artificial Intelligence
In today’s world, advances in artificial intelligence are heard about on almost a daily basis, largely due to the potential they have to revolutionise healthcare from the ground up.
Already capable of mining medical records, AI-based algorithms will soon also be able to perform all manner of healthcare-related duties – from designing treatment plans to developing drugs more quickly.
Not only that but AI could also be used in the future to separate cancerous tissue samples from non-cancerous ones almost instantaneously. This, in turn, will rapidly increase patient diagnosis time, helping get the right treatments to people a lot more quickly than via the traditional means.
What’s more, using AI systems in the future will also enable scientists to use government and healthcare-led data to predict and track the spread of infectious diseases. Because of this, more accurate diagnoses and treatment plans will then be able to be created, helping save money and lead to improved patient outcomes over the long run.
The Rise of Ease & Convenience
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the way in which patients interact with healthcare environments has forever been changed.
Hospitals and medical centres have obviously always needed to put the health and safety of patients at the front and centre of their priorities but, because of the pandemic, this need suddenly had to be exacerbated.
Through the implementation of social distancing and the need for face masks, healthcare practices had no choice but to adopt technologies that centred around ease and convenience – something that hasn’t changed as we move away from the days of the pandemic.
Whether it be avoiding cash by integrating contactless solutions like card payments or ensuring complete cleanliness by investing in commercial robotic vacuum cleaners, the healthcare industry already uses more technology in its practices than you might think, and this will only continue as we progress into the future.
The Rise of Virtual Reality
Another technological advancement often touted for its future potential is virtual reality – an immersive computer-generated environment comprised of scenes and objects that appear to be real.
This technology has come on leaps and bounds over recent years and is now being used in a variety of ways throughout the healthcare landscape.
One such example of this centres around the use of virtual reality in surgery, both allowing trainee surgeons to learn in a safe, virtual environment while also giving qualified surgeons the opportunity to practice complex operations.
Moreover, virtual reality has also been extensively used to assist patients, helping create scenarios to combat conditions like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, while also easing the pain felt when going into labour or following surgical procedures.
Over time, virtual reality is likely to be used in more and more ways by both physicians and patients alike. So watch this space.
The Rise of Wearables
Thanks to the recent rise in popularity of fitness trackers and wearables, we are all collectively more connected to the future of healthcare than we might think. This is because devices such as these enable us – and medical specialists – to understand more about our overall health and fitness, giving us more control over our own lives.
Because of technology, it is now easier than ever to monitor all manners of health-related criteria – whether it be tracking your calories, stress level, weight or cognitive abilities. Certain devices even now allow you to perform your own ECG, while also monitoring your heart rate and blood oxygen level at the same time.
As a result of this, patients now have the ability to track their health in greater detail, enabling them to share highly relevant, personal data with their doctor to make more informed decisions. This, in turn, can then result in improved patient outcomes – something which will only get better over time, as wearables technology continues to advance.
The Rise of 3D Printing
While some people may use 3D printers to produce small Star Wars models, within the healthcare industry, they can offer a huge number of uses.
Back in November 2019, for example, researchers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Insitute identified a method to potentially treat burn victims in the future. Using their technology, they were able to print living skin along with blood vessels to produce workable skin grafts.
Similarly, the pharmaceutical industry is currently in the process of adopting 3D printing technology, using it to create specific drugs known as ‘polypills’ – multi-layered medicines containing more than one active ingredient.
As a result of this, medicines will soon be able to be produced a lot more quickly and cost-effectively, improving treatment access for the patients who need it most.
The future of medical care not only relies on technology. It is technology.
Thanks to these continual advancements, the patient landscape should soon become a much nicer and more efficient place, not only improving outcomes over the long term but also giving patients more control over their own health.
While it may take time and a lot of research to get there, the future of medical care looks bright. And, if all goes well, maybe we won’t have to endure those long waiting times, short doctor appointments or non-stop tests for much longer after all.