How technology is transforming healthcare
Over the last 10 years, technology has transformed every aspect of our lives. From how we travel to how we order a takeaway, the way we work and how we watch TV. Now mobile technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and new emerging technologies are set to transform healthcare.
During the last few months, the NHS and healthcare have been at the forefront of everyone’s minds. The NHS has had to adapt to a landscape that has changed daily and has never been more challenged than during the COVID-19 crisis.
Last year, health secretary Matt Hancock warned that the NHS must adapt and utilise new healthcare technology if it is to survive. So, what healthcare technology is available and how could it transform healthcare.
Mobile and Video Technology
We are already seeing an increase in video consultations with GP’s, surgeons and other healthcare professionals. Remote video consultations can be arranged between medical professionals and patients using either mobile devices or PCs.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 there has been an increase in remote consultations to help protect staff and patients from the virus. It is anticipated that video consultations will become more common place in the coming years.
Not only does this help stop the spread of infection it also helps healthcare professionals work more efficiently and potentially treat more patients. For patients, it means they can be seen without having to travel to a physical premise or have to wait in long queues.
AI is already used in healthcare through machine learning which enables medical professionals to gain a better understanding of some health conditions, such as cancer. Using AI and machine learning helps scientists explore the vast data that makes up the DNA in the blood of cancer patients.
This better understanding helps them identify specific mutations that may put the patient at higher risk and detect those that need further consultation.
AI’s pattern recognising capabilities has the potential to enable patients to be screened with more efficiency and accuracy and on a huge scale which will help doctors with overall disease management so they can improve healthcare plans for long term treatment.
Internet of Things (IoT)
At a consumer level, many of us already wear smart devices that use sensing technologies to track our heart rate, blood pressure and sleep patterns. In the coming years, we may begin to see sensors being placed within our bodies to track glucose levels, temperature and oxygen levels.
These results may then be remotely accessed by healthcare professionals to track changes in our bodies and health conditions so they can better manage healthcare management and treatment plans.
Augmented reality has the power to change the way healthcare professionals train and learn about the human body and may also be used to aid diagnosis practices.
At Case Western Reserve University in the US, medical students have detailed and accurate access to virtual depictions of the human anatomy using the Microsoft HoloLens to study anatomy via the HoloAnatomy app.
Allowing them to study the human body in great detail and accuracy without the need for real bodies. Another development we may see in the future is augmented reality glasses that allow surgeons to ‘see inside’ patients’ bodies using data from scans.