Technological advancements are quickly changing the way we live. Your smart refrigerator might tell you you're out of milk while Alexa reads off the top news headlines.
Major technological advancements are also happening in the world of healthcare. Here are 5 ways the future of healthcare technology is looking bright!
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is sure to have a profound impact on healthcare. As the technology becomes more developed and widespread, it’s expected that AI could help diagnose strokes, eye disease, heart disease, skin cancer, and many other conditions. An AI computer program can now diagnose skin cancer more accurately than a board-certified dermatologist. Better yet, the program can do it faster and more efficiently, requiring a training data set rather than a decade of expensive and labor-intensive medical education.
Additionally, AI increases the ability for healthcare professionals to better understand the day-to-day patterns and needs of the people they care for, and with that, understanding they are able to provide better feedback, guidance and support for staying healthy.
Virtual healthcare, also known as telemedicine, allows patients and doctors to communicate remotely using technology such as video conferencing or mobile apps. Many patients are also becoming comfortable using wearable technology to monitor any changes in their health. In fact, studies show that 53% of people who use health monitors or fitness trackers, like Fitbit or Garmin, say they share their data with their doctors.
Convenience, ease of use, and travel times are main reasons why patients choose virtual care. On the other side of the coin, many are concerned about the quality of care, or fear a loss of a personal connection with a doctor.
The reality is, if all patients chose virtual healthcare over in office visits, it could save the U.S. health system $7 billion annually. The time savings would “free up” the equivalent of 37,000 doctors.
Nanomedicine is a rapidly evolving field which controls individual atoms and molecules at the extremely minute “nanoscale” of 1 to 100 nanometers. To put that into perspective, if a marble were one nanometer, one meter would be the size of the earth! Whoa!
Today, nanomedicine is mainly used to effectively diagnose, treat, and prevent various diseases. Compared to conventional medicines, it’s much better at precise targeting and delivery systems, forging the way towards combating complex conditions such as breast cancer.
Tiny, more precise delivery systems will allow doctors to deliver chemotherapy directly to targeted tumors instead of poisoning the entire body. This technology will also allow doctors to reduce the frequency of drug injections by slowing releasing medicine from a single nanoparticle.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Although it’s normally been associated with entertainment, virtual reality is making waves in healthcare as well. The multi-sensory, immersive experience that VR provides can benefit both physicians and patients in several different ways:
VR can be used to train surgeons in a realistic and low-risk simulated environment. In one study, 93% of radiologists who viewed arteries through 3D VR technology were more confident when diagnosing splenic artery aneurysms.
VR offers therapeutic potential and rehabilitation for acute pain and anxiety disorders. Immersion into virtual settings has been shown to lower levels of pain and anxiety and have relaxing effects.
3D printing has come a long way since its debut, especially in its uses in the healthcare industry. New printers can create medical tools using any buildable material, from plastic to stem cells. The technology offers faster prototypes, creating everything from personalized prosthetics to “poly-pills” at a fraction of the cost.
The customizable aspect of 3D printing is revolutionizing organ transplants and tissue repair, and it’s even able to produce realistic skin for burn victims.
Robot-Assisted technology allows doctors to perform delicate and complex procedures that might be otherwise impossible.
Typically, surgeons control a device with a camera and mechanical arms, giving them a high-def view of the surgical site. According to the Mayo Clinic, this method generally enhances precision, flexibility, and control, comes with fewer complications such as infections, and results in less obvious scarring as it is minimally invasive.