Technology for health care, or medical technology, has improved greatly over the last several years. This trend will continue in the coming years. From improving patient safety to allowing patients more control over their health, there are many reasons to be excited about the future of technology in health care.
Here are just a few ways you can expect to see technology improve your health care experience over the next decade.
Technology is being used to prevent diseases.
Wearable technology is becoming more mainstream as each day passes. A company called AliveCor has created a device that uses your smartphone to take an electrocardiogram (ECG) with no wires. Recently, it was FDA-approved to be used in conjunction with an app to provide a remote diagnosis of patients suspected of having atrial fibrillation (AFib).
This is just one example of how we are using technology to prevent health problems before they happen. Other examples include apps like iCount, which asks women over 40 to do a 10-minute glucose test on their phones twice a day. If blood sugar levels rise above a certain threshold, users get an alert via text or email.
This can be lifesaving if someone forgets to check their blood sugar or doesn’t have time to stop what they’re doing and measure their levels. Technology can also help doctors monitor chronic conditions remotely so that people don’t have to make multiple trips back and forth from doctor’s offices.
For instance, the Apple Watch will soon be able to take heart rate readings every five minutes while you’re awake—information that could be sent directly to your doctor instead of requiring you to visit them in person every time you want results reviewed.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are transforming diagnosis.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning have brought about a quiet revolution in medicine, changing how physicians perform diagnostics, improve outcomes, and manage health care costs. Sensors are being embedded into medical devices exponentially; these sensors are designed to capture objective data (e.g., heart rates, brain waves) and subjective data (e.g., patient feedback).
That information is then analyzed by artificial intelligence programs with superhuman accuracy and speed, allowing doctors to deliver individualized diagnoses. That’s right, “superhuman” here refers to machines and AI systems’ near-infinite capacity for learning new things.
And, since these diagnostic tools can be accessed from anywhere via smartphones or computers, patients will be able to keep track of their health status without relying on clinicians. Many companies are working on technologies that would allow your doctor to diagnose you over video chat.
This could potentially allow patients to avoid unnecessary visits altogether while reducing overall healthcare costs significantly. What’s more, AI and machine learning will also help providers make better decisions regarding treatment options—for example. Using predictive analytics to determine which patients might benefit most from surgery or radiation therapy after a cancer diagnosis has been made.
In other words, technology will take over much of what clinicians do today so they can focus more time on treating patients as opposed to performing administrative tasks like paperwork and insurance billing.
“Smart Homes” make our lives easier.
Smart homes are also technology for health care, making life easier. Just as with any new technology, people have been a little slow to adapt to smart homes. But as more devices become available and businesses build them into their products, that is changing.
Thermostats can monitor our temperature and humidity and adjust accordingly, so we don’t even have to think about it; lights can turn on when we enter a room or just when they notice us walking through a dark hallway. And while some might see these devices as just another convenience, others see them as an aid in care.
Self-monitoring leads to better awareness of your habits.
Let’s say you have high blood pressure and your doctor wants to keep an eye on it. You could keep a written log to track your blood pressure, or even more effectively, a wearable device like those offered by Omron will collect information about your blood pressure every five minutes or so and store it in a cloud-based service.
This may sound like overkill, but in fact, there is some evidence that wearing one of these devices leads to better awareness of your habits and gives people with chronic conditions. (e.g., diabetes) a greater incentive to stay healthy. People who self-monitor their heart rate. Cholesterol levels and weight loss are more likely to stick with diet/exercise programs than people who do not engage in self-monitoring.
Personalized Diagnostics finds you faster.
Surgical instruments have come a long way from what was used during early operations. Today, surgeons use more precise, less invasive tools that promise safer results. Take these robotic surgical systems as an example. Though they’re not mainstream yet (you won’t find them in your local hospital). Robotic surgery is catching on quickly, and doctors are starting to adopt them across major surgical specialties.
Why? Not only do they require fewer incisions, but they allow doctors to perform procedures with greater precision. Meaning patients recover faster and suffer fewer complications post-surgery. By learning how new technology like robotic surgery is making health care safer. You can get ahead of others in your field who might be skeptical or slow to adopt similar technologies down the road.
Early detection makes the biggest difference.
More than half of all cancer deaths could be prevented through screening. But nearly 60 percent of women and 70 percent of men don’t receive regular screenings. Technology has made early detection easier and more accessible than ever, yet many people still skip their screenings. Cancer may be solved in our lifetime—but only if we take care to detect it early on.
So what does that future look like? In addition to FDA-approved tests, consider several other ways to screen for cancer as you age, such as colonoscopies, CT scans, breast MRIs, and ultrasounds. Here are some simple steps you can take today to protect your health tomorrow.
As a global community, we need to do better when it comes to fighting diseases like cancer. While technology will continue to make leaps forward with new treatments for cancer and earlier diagnosis techniques. There is also a role for individual responsibility to play in disease prevention.
That starts with taking charge of your health by getting screened regularly according to guidelines from a board-certified physician who knows your personal medical history. It also means practicing healthy habits each day to catch any potential issues sooner rather than later.
Surgical tools are getting smarter, less invasive, and safer.
Advances in technology often lead to a new wave of products and services that disrupt industries. Innovations are getting smarter, more affordable, and more accessible in health care. Advances in medical robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) will allow medical professionals to perform surgeries with greater precision, less invasive approaches, and safer outcomes. With surgical robots becoming increasingly sophisticated and smaller in size—and prices dropping—this technology is poised to reshape a multibillion-dollar industry.
Virtual reality makes hospitals more engaging for patients, families, and staff.
As virtual reality and augmented reality technologies continue to develop, they will significantly impact hospitals. Already, some hospitals are using these technologies to create immersive experiences that help patients visualize their medical conditions.
While virtual reality and augmented reality technology are still in their infancy, it’s already being used in a variety of health care settings as a learning tool, as well as in therapy to treat various disorders from phobias to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
As these emerging technologies mature, health care providers will be able to use them for a wider range of purposes; one day, doctors might even give patients virtual tours of their future bodies following surgery.
Innovative technologies make life easier.
In recent years, you may not think technology has improved your health care, but you’d be surprised. Technology has developed exponentially over the past decade, making things like prosthetics, joint replacements, and disease management much more effective.
You might not notice it! That is because several technologies we don’t see are responsible for tracking data and sharing information with doctors. However, technology can make a big difference in your quality of life-related to health care. One study showed that more than 80 percent of Americans had used some health-related app or device to track their condition or monitor medications.