Technology has been transforming medicine and healthcare in a big way for decades. Our very own Christiaan Barnard changed the medical field forever when he performed the first successful heart transplant on December 3, 1967.
Today, using big data and technology like smartwatches, mobile phones, live streaming, and better doctor-to-doctor communication has made technology the fastest growing area in health, according to the Global Observatory for eHealth Report by the United Nations. Start-ups are tackling numerous problems with quality care and healthcare access, by using technology to improve the industry. How do these industry disruptors affect your healthcare?
Data mining is the process where computers analyse massive data sets to find patterns and solve problems. It's a no-brainer, then, that the medical field would jump on this kind of technology to improve medical care.
Constant advancements in medical technology could make diagnosing patients a quicker and more accurate process. A research team at IBM developed a supercomputer that helps doctors give patients improved diagnoses and treatments. It does this through years of data mining and creating formulae for detecting and solving general medical examination issues such as prescribing the right medication or performing improved diagnoses.
Brian Eliason, healthcare expert at Health Catalyst, believes data mining holds amazing potential for the future of healthcare. 'Some believe the opportunities to improve care and reduce costs concurrently could apply to as much as 30% of the overall healthcare spending in the US alone,' said Eliason.
Advancing medical technology could mean the average cost of production of medical equipment, medicines and medical facilities in general could eventually decrease as the need for certain outdated equipment decreases.
Advanced translation programs have improved communication among doctors, as well as between them and their patients. Omnifluent Health is one such program. It reduces translation costs for doctors and hospitals, and improves efficiency because patients speaking a different language can be easily understood.
Patients have also benefitted from online medical programs such as Sherpaa, where doctors can consult with patients within minutes through an app, assisting with over 1,500 medical problems. They can also order blood tests, fill prescriptions, and recommend local specialists.
Remember when your watch only gave you the time, date, and maybe compass directions? Today, wearable tech enables people to monitor their every move. Smartwatches record steps, calories, heart rate, and sleep cycles. Depending on your personal preferences, a smartwatch can remind you to exercise, drink water, or to get up and walk around at specific intervals. Medical professionals can use this data to create more accurate medical evaluations of individuals. One day, your smartwatch might even be able to pick up on clues that you may be heading for a heart attack, and contact your nearest hospital for emergency assistance.
Technology is now so widely used in the medical field that you or someone you know has probably been helped by it in some way. So, the next time you visit your doctor, you might be amazed to think that a stranger in another country may have helped to make you feel better.
Prices quoted are correct at the time of publishing this article. The information in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal, or medical advice.
Sources: World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations/health, www.healthcatalyst.com