Healthcare has witnessed tremendous technological advancements in the last couple of decades. Engineering terms like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and the Internet of Things (IoT) have thoroughly permeated the healthcare industry. Added to these are Blockchain and Big Data that have completely transformed the industry and catalyzed a positive change in the human quality of life.
Trends like Telemedicine, Cloud Computing, Virtual Reality (VR), Nanotechnology, 3D Printing, Mobile Health, and Predictive Analytics have brought quality healthcare to our doorsteps, even in rural areas and resource-scarce settings. Technology advancements in healthcare have resulted in
- Costs reduction and increased affordability
- Bridging the distance divide between patient and point-of-care through wearables and portable medical devices
- Introduction of newer and improved techniques for higher efficiencies and ease of use
- Precision surgeries through robotics
- Catalyzing longevity and increasing quality of life
So, where exactly will technology herald in healthcare in the next couple of years? The key result areas would be:
Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a game-changer can analyze and decode data in far complex and distinct combinations than a human mind, providing exceptionally potent data for efficient and precise diagnostics. AI applications include Medical Imaging, image-guided therapy, closed-loop drug delivery, tailor-made data-driven preventive medicine, life-support systems, and robotic surgery. In addition, AI will tremendously aid in cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer's, various types of cancer, neurology screening, echocardiography, in-vitro fertilization, and genomics interpretation.
Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) and Machine Learning (ML) – By intelligently connecting devices, systems, and objects used by billions of people worldwide, IoT and ML have utilized and leveraged data to enable timely, specific, and contextualized decisions.
Wearables and Smart Devices – Embedded medical devices like pacemakers & cochlear implants and surface wearables like smartwatches, sensors, glasses, and even clothing constantly monitor a patient's vital parameters and provide real-time information to remote healthcare workers and in resource-scarce locations for effective ongoing monitoring.
Telehealth & Telemedicine – Especially during the corona pandemic, telehealth has bridged the gap between healthcare workers and rural communities while reducing contact between patients, healthcare workers, and other patients. This phenomenon will continue to register a steep growth in the years to come.
Robotic surgery is a highly effective technique for minimally invasive surgery where the surgeon uses a robotic device with attached instruments to perform surgical procedures. The robot requires no skin incision, which reduces blood loss and wound complications immensely.
Virtual Reality (VR) – is already impacting healthcare in many ways: from training doctors to helping individuals overcome phobias. Significant usage of VR in medicine is a tool for diagnostics, treatment, therapies, and an educational resource. VR has demonstrated significant benefits in catalyzing effective therapies, reducing patient-care costs, and supporting the development of new drugs.
In healthcare, technology has affected a complete transformation. From illness-focused patient care, we have moved to a more inclusive and unified preventive care mindset. These innovations have blurred the distinction between engineering and medicine.