Few industries get as much attention from the tech sector or evolve as rapidly as healthcare. There are trillions of dollars to be made and innovation occurs at a staggering pace, but are you aware of what’s currently happening? There are some exciting new technologies on the horizon and they’re worth exploring in greater detail.
The Latest Developments in Healthcare Technology
Healthcare technology is always met with extreme levels of hope and excitement, followed by slow and calculated implementation. So there’s often a sizeable gap between the time a technology gets media attention and the time when it’s utilized in real medical settings. With that being said, here are some of the latest developments we’re currently seeing evolve before our eyes.
Are you familiar with the concept of telemedicine? As the name suggests, telemedicine allows individuals to contact board-certified physicians and nurse practitioners in their area who can provide medical advice over the phone and/or call in prescriptions remotely.
The beauty of telemedicine is that it’s fast and convenient. The last thing someone wants to do when they have the flu is get dressed, drive 15 minutes to the doctor, sit in a waiting room, fill out paperwork, get checked, and drive to the pharmacy. The whole process of being seen by a doctor often prevents people from going, which may have a detrimental impact on recovery. When a patient can access a doctor over the phone, they’re much more apt to get the care they need in a timely fashion.
It may take a while for the public to build up enough trust in telemedicine to allow it to truly grow, but this is the future of healthcare. According to a HIS Technology report, there will be at least 7 million US telemedicine patients by 2018 (up from 350,000 in 2013).
2. Virtual and Augmented Reality
There’s been a lot of talk about virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) over the past few years. Some of the applications for these technologies are merely entertainment based, but when it comes to healthcare, you can’t overlook the promising potential.
While we’re probably a couple of years away from seeing mainstream adoption in medical facilities around the world, there’s currently a ton of testing and training going on right now. VR and AR are being studied in relation to remote surgery, hands-on training in medical schools, virtual medical learning, and even the treatment of phantom limb pain.
'As virtual reality continues its rise to prominence in the tech world, more and more stunning applications in the healthcare field will appear,' Reality Technologies explains. 'We are at the very beginnings of a technological revolution, and as ever, medicine is one of the industries that will reap the most dramatic benefits.'
3. Wearable Devices
The marketplace is flooded with wearable devices. You can go down to your local Best Buy or Walmart and see dozen different products that can be purchased. These devices do everything from track your steps and movement to monitor your heart rate. But in the coming years, experts believe we’ll see much more sophisticated applications, particularly as it pertains to healthcare.
Currently, cost-effective wearable technology is being developed that will be able to monitor blood pressure, predict heart attacks and strokes, and accurately analyze sleep habits and trends.
4. In-Home Biometric Devices
As you can see, part of the technology trend in healthcare is to reduce the need for unnecessary visits to hospitals and doctor’s offices. This frees up space for more serious issues and allows healthcare facilities to run leaner businesses. One of the categories of technology that is allowing this to happen is in-home biometric devices.
'The use of vital biometrics in remote care applications serves both demands, freeing up care staff timetables as well as bed space normally taken up by chronic patients while still offering critical around the clock observation,' FindBiometrics notes. The expectation is that there will be significant innovation in this niche over the next three to five years.
The Future is Bright
Perhaps you recently heard that Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and his pediatrician wife, Priscilla Chan, made the bold statement that they’ll be contributing $3 billion over the next few decades to cure all diseases by the year 2100?
While they recently clarified that this doesn’t mean no one will ever get sick, it still seems like an extremely ambitious stance.
Make fun of Zuckerberg all you want, but he’s probably not that far away from reality. Technology is evolving at an astonishing pace in the healthcare industry and trillions of dollars are being poured into research and development.
The future is bright and the technologies mentioned in this article will certainly play a role in improving global health in the decades to come.