The pandemic and the woes that it brought with it have encouraged most industries to seek technological help in overcoming their difficulties and the healthcare sector too has gained significantly from innovation. With technology increasing in the healthcare sector, the first question that pops up is whether computers will eventually take over the role of a doctor? From my perspective, technology will complement the medical fraternity and assist a doctor in decision making, precision and error reduction. With technology playing an integral role in healthcare, the future would see healthcare professionals embracing new technologies to remain relevant.
Technology would make critical healthcare much more accessible to the common man as it would provide cheaper, more effective and quicker solutions for diseases. Technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), IoT and 3D Printing already have a huge impact on the healthcare sector. Health records management is one of the most widely deployed applications of AI and automation. Certain repetitive tasks involving X-Rays, Data Entry and CT Scans use AI. Through analytics and intelligence gathering, AI-based apps can be used to provide medical consultation based on personal medical history. AI can significantly reduce the cost of development of pharmaceuticals and has the ability to predict the health issues people could face based on their genetics.
IoT can be used to reduce direct patient-physician interaction as it can provide relevant health information remotely. Real time medical information will be stored in private or hybrid clouds, making analysis of data that much easier. IoT can play a major role in early detection of health problems as it can relay real time information to physicians irrespective of their location. The opportunities that 3D printing brings to healthcare are endless and are used for the development of new prosthetics, replicas of blood vessels, bones and organs. One of its biggest advantages is that 3D printing reduces costs and lead time.
One of the most significant roles that technology would play is in making quality healthcare available to rural areas through telemedicine or telehealth. Video conferencing would not only benefit patients but also health workers who need to be provided with necessary training. An online consultation could help save many a life as quite often people in rural areas, though diagnosed, do not seek medical intervention until it is too late. On the other hand, wearables are becoming more and more popular as it helps keep track of one’s fitness levels and also provides important information with regard to heart rates, blood pressure, oxygen levels which can red flag the need to visit a specialist.
Digital technology has played a vital role in transforming healthcare and will continue to be a crucial link in providing excellence in healthcare through world-class innovations. Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, blockchain, healthcare mobile apps, wearables and much other such advancement will change the future of healthcare.
The author is Director & Consultant Robotic Surgeon, Specialist Hospital.