It has taken a while, but the healthcare industry has finally accepted technological advancements with open arms. Technology has played a major role in this industry, right from computer-aided surgeries to medical apps on our smartphones. Given the exponential growth of technology, robots performing surgeries using artificial intelligence in the future shouldn’t come as a surprise to us. Healthcare and technology are walking hand in hand towards a better future and this is just the start. Here are some emerging technological trends in the medical field that are exciting and can be promising for great results :
1. The Internet of Medical Things Will Dominate
The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is the collection of medical devices and applications that connect to healthcare IT systems through online computer networks. IoMT allows machine-to-machine communication of medical devices if they are connected to WiFi. This connection is useful for tracking vitals through different apps and devices and prevent chronic illness in a patient, reduce human errors, improve patient compliance, track patient medication orders and also cut down medical costs. Even your smartwatches, that track your heart rate are included in IoMT! Such smartwatches/monitoring devices are becoming increasingly popular these days with the advantage of being robust and affordable. The arrival of this digital innovation in healthcare has enhanced both customer experience and profitability. By 2020, the number of deployed IoMT devices is expected to be anywhere between 20 and 30 billion. Another research has reported that the market for IoT devices in healthcare will touch a whopping $136 billion by 2021!
2. Make Way For Artificial Intelligence
Movies have hyped up artificial intelligence (AI) so much that it already feels like an integral part of our lives. However, AI in healthcare is relatively new and on a steady rise. Along with powering predictive analysis, AI in healthcare is being applied in areas such as using data for personalized medications, automated treatment plans, wellness management, and patient monitoring, among others. An example of AI in healthcare would be Biosensors, which are devices of biological origin equipped with the knowledge to correctly diagnose a disease. Many pharmaceutical companies hold patents of biosensors and many others are investing heavily in the development of AI. During the recent Ebola virus outbreak, it was AI that came to the rescue. Through AI, we were able to scan existing medicines for the virus and reformulate more effective ones for the future. AI industry is expected to grow from $663.8 million (2014) to reach $6.6 billion by 2021!
3. Telemedicine Is The Next Big Thing
Telemedicine is literally what it says it is. It is the delivery of healthcare services, consultations, and prescriptions over the telecommunication pathway. When it comes to large countries like India or the United States where access to providers is limited, telemedicine plays a vital role. Especially in India, with the population growth in billions now, telemedicine has become a necessity. Telemedicine has the advantage of being accessible, affordable and easy to use. It is instrumental in bridging the gap between health care members and the people, especially in our rural areas. NITI Aayog states that the National Health Stack (NHS) is a virtual digital platform for healthcare in the country. NHS study aims to have digital health records for all citizens by 2022 to make telemedicine and e-Health easy. However, there is a need to dictate laws surrounding telemedicine to avoid its exploitation.
4. Chatbots Are The New Assistants
Have you ever visited a doctor or hospital website and watched an automated chatbox pop open on your screen? They send you a message like “Hello! How may I help you today?” or something along those lines. These pop-ups are called chatbots, and their popularity is on the rise. Chatbots assist individuals via text messages within websites, applications or instant messaging and enable businesses to attract, hold and satisfy clients. Hospitals, clinics, e-pharmacies, and many other healthcare-related websites are now turning to chatbots to enhance the experience of a patient. The mission of the chatbot is to actually guide people and assist them to reveal if they are seriously ill. After that, an individual could be transferred to a healthcare professional. This order of things essentially saves a doctor’s time. Advantages of chatbots are their availability, quick responses, tech support, scheduling and also being a reliable and trustworthy point of contact between a patient and their doctor.
5. Robotics in Healthcare? Yes Please!
Although robots have been part of the healthcare system for over three decades, ranging from small laboratory models to complex ones capable of either performing surgeries autonomously or assisting a human surgeon, the scope for their deployment in medicine has widened only recently. Robots are being used as caregivers for patients. They are also aiding people with any sort of impairment. Robots are also helping in surgeries, monitoring vitals of a patient, delivering specimens, etc. Using pattern recognition algorithms and artificial intelligence, it is possible to have robots driving an entire hospital while eliminating any human errors. The advantages are plenty, including early diagnosis, decision making, end of life care, advanced research, personalized treatment, and training. With the advent of robotics, nothing seems impossible anymore!
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