Where Will Healthcare Technology Be In 5 Years?
Healthcare technology is always evolving. There is a seemingly never-ceasing quest to provide higher standards of patient care.
There are two primary reasons for this thirst for excellence, and both have to do with survival. The first reason is that the right technology can save patients’ lives and reverse or mitigate serious illness. The second reason is the intense competition in the industry for hospitals and medical suppliers.
In five years time, the medical profession is expected to change beyond recognition. The current high standards will quickly become obsolete.
So, here is what you can reasonably expect by the end of the decade:
1. Medical devices will talk to each other
What is currently hampering medical technology is the slow rate of data transference. Currently, it usually requires a medical profession to interpret medical data before making the right decision. In the future, it is expected that the data from a medical device, say an insulin pump, for example, will be sent straight to a computer network. Patients will get information in real time and be able to keep track of their own health.
In addition, the current enthusiasm among fitness enthusiasts for smart, wearable devices like watches to monitor vital signs will be part of the norm when it comes to patient’s keeping track of their own health.
2. Big data will become much more efficiently processed
In the field of technology as a whole, the quest is no longer on how to collect data, but what to do with all the data that has been collected. Earlier, the challenge for the human race was how to get enough information to make an informed decision.
With the evolution of technology, data collection became highly efficient. Now, the new challenge is how to systematize, classify, and organize all this information.
In the medical industry, data has to be compiled from multiple devices and interpreted for patients by medical providers. As coordination and interpretation of data improves, physicians will be able to make more accurate diagnosis and assign the best medical treatments. There will no longer be the need for a doctor to rely on intuition or past experience to figure out a reasonable diagnosis.
With diagnostics becoming more accurate, patients will get on the right treatment protocols faster.
3. Medical records will be easier to view by all parties.
Medical records are referred to as electronic health records, EHR. Currently, many healthcare providers are still using legacy infrastructures like servers and local networks to store this information. Others, like AdvancedMD EHR software, uses cloud based platforms. What this means is that the information can be accessed from desktops, laptops, tablets, and smart phones. Users simply log in to an online portal. In the future, this type of software will be ubiquitous rather than the exception.
4. The end of long waits for patients to see a doctor
Often one reason patients don’t go to a doctor when they should is because of the long wait times before they can even see anyone. These long wait times even extend to patients in the emergency care. The number of people who need immediate care is far larger than the number of doctors and nurses available to help them.
The solution to this problem will be telehealth, a way patients can speak to a primary care giver electronically. While the technology currently exists, it will be far more sophisticated and efficient in the future.
5. The tech wizardry of 3D printing
Finally, there is the idea that 3D printing will be the new way of manufacturing essential medical equipment and supplies. Besides things like low cost prosthetic devices, it may even be possible to print out organs themselves.
While all this may sound rather hyperbolic, even utopian, here is some startling news from a 3D printing information website.
Researchers at Harvard University are making great progress in bioprinting blood vessels, a crucial step towards printing tissues with a blood supply. The lab of Dr. Jennifer Lewis designed a custom-built 3D printer and a dissolving ink to create a swatch of tissue containing skin cells interwoven with structural material that can potentially function as blood vessels.
Following The Money Trail
These trends are not based on intellectual speculation but are an extrapolation of emerging trends based on observing the movement of venture capital investments in developing this new technology. Today, millions of dollars are going into researching the medical technology. In fact, more money is now being directed to the healthcare sector than in any other industry.