Technology is the main driving factor in many fields these days, and advancements in sectors like artificial intelligence have resulted in rapid progress in various other areas. The link between technology and healthcare is nothing new under the sun, and anyone who has been following either of the two with an active interest is likely aware of the strong synergy between them. And yet, it seems like many people are only familiar with the most basic examples of how technology is boosting the healthcare sector. This is unfortunate, because this is something that can be quite interesting to dig into.
Let’s have a look at some examples of how modern tech has made things easier for healthcare providers and their patients alike.
Communication between patients and physicians has traditionally been a barrier to proper healthcare. This comes in many forms – elderly and/or disabled people with general communication difficulties, the busy schedules of physicians that don’t allow them to properly listen to everyone’s problems, and physical barriers like large distances that prevent some people from getting the kind of healthcare that they need in their situations. Modern tech has done a lot to eliminate many of those barriers. It’s not rare for doctors to offer remote check-ups these days, and the pandemic has accelerated this trend even more. There are also various forms of assisted communication, driven by modern technological solutions, which can help reduce the friction in many cases.
Physicians and medical researchers can now benefit from advanced systems, often based on AI, which can explore issues in much more detail than the average human can – and much faster. This has accelerated various analytical jobs in the field, and has enabled doctors to provide more accurate diagnoses in less time. What’s more, those doctors then find themselves with more time on their hands for more critical tasks that still can’t be automated or delegated to others. As a result, many advanced healthcare specialists now invest significant amounts of their effort into finding solutions for long-standing problems which just couldn’t get the amount of attention they deserved in the past.
Streamlining and Optimization
Healthcare relies heavily on proper optimization practices in order to provide its full benefits. Modern streamlining approaches have found their way into the sector in recent decades, including some that were not traditionally founded in technology, but are still assisted greatly by it. Lean is a good example of this, being a field concerned with the optimization of processes and the reduction of unnecessary work and resource utilization (referred to as “waste” in the field), and its integration into the healthcare sector has benefited greatly from the availability of modern technological solutions. Check out this article for some concrete examples. Entire companies have been founded on the principle of providing consulting services for the appropriate utilization of lean and other similar methodologies, not just in healthcare, but in many other sectors as well.
Pushing New Boundaries
Technology has done a lot to enable researchers to push the boundaries of medical science and explore new grounds that were previously seen as out of their reach. Vaccine research is a hot topic right now, and it’s a perfect example of this. Many AI-driven systems are working around the clock to analyze different possibilities and ensure that people get access to a working vaccine as quickly as possible. Many new sub-fields have emerged in the last decade in healthcare, and have seen a strong push from technological advancements.
Various things that used to be the subject of sci-fi books and movies are now either close to reality, or already deployed on the market, such as robotic prostheses. Surgeons are now able to train on complex procedures in virtual reality, without having to touch a live patient until they’re fully ready. And it looks like we’re barely scratching the surface of possibilities – the next decade is likely going to really show us what modern tech is capable of in terms of making our lives better.
The Benefits of Wearables
When wearable devices were first introduced, they were not directly aimed at the healthcare sector for the most part. Rather, people saw them as luxury gadgets that expanded their use of smart devices even more. But they quickly proved to be a viable way of helping people stay safe and promoting good health. Fitness bands are pretty ubiquitous these days, and many people use them to track their weight, sleep better, and minimize their use of their smartphones (which has proven health benefits on its own). And with things like smart glasses and other hardware on the horizon, society as a whole stands to benefit a lot in the next years.
Lowering the Entry Barrier
Healthcare was traditionally seen as a field with a very high barrier of entry. Becoming a physician is still a pretty demanding ordeal, requiring many years of education and practice before “truly” entering the workforce. But with the increased access of information that we are all enjoying lately, many people have gained the confidence to try entering the field themselves. It’s easier to find details on complex procedures and discuss them with specialists from across the globe, and this will only get better. At the same time, many new jobs have opened up that don’t involve being a physician, but still contribute to the healthcare sector significantly. Some of those jobs are based heavily in technology, and require a good understanding of the current state of affairs in that sector more than they rely on medical knowledge. The number of people willing to engage in all of this has been growing at a very fast rate.
It’s almost impossible to predict where healthcare is going to be a decade from now, given all of these developments. But given the rapid pace at which some areas of technology have been moving, it’s safe to assume that we’re on the way to becoming a healthier society as a whole, and solving many of the long-standing problems that have been troubling us for centuries.