Technology has always been hard at work, making healthcare better. Medical technology is always evolving, from developing new surgical tools to creating better prosthetics.
Beyond the more direct medical technologies, we are seeing applications for artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and internet technology. Many of these technologies have the potential to dramatically improve outcomes for patients.
Along with better outcomes, many of these tools are spurring significant changes in healthcare practices. In this post, we will look at some of the ways technology is improving healthcare.
Access to Healthcare Information
It wasn’t always easy to access informational resources concerning health. For most people, the only solution was to talk to their doctor. You could go to the library or buy books, but it was time-consuming. Even if you did try reading books to learn, it would usually take a lot of time and reading to find the information you need.
Technology makes healthcare information more accessible than ever before. If you ever have a question about your health, you can easily find the answers using a search engine. Even beyond that, there are apps and websites dedicated to helping people with different issues. Various mental health resources are just a few taps away. None of this is a substitute for seeing a doctor, but information and resources can do a lot to help people between times when they see a doctor.
Technology is also making healthcare more accessible with telehealth services. Many areas are underserved as it concerns doctors and healthcare facilities, especially when it comes to specialists care. With telehealth, people in these underserved areas can get the care they need. Instead of traveling great distances to see a specialist, the patient could see a doctor through telemedicine video conferencing.
Wearable tech is a growing market. Many of us own devices like wearable fitness trackers or smartwatches. Smart rings are also growing in popularity. On the consumer end, these devices help people track fitness information, and they can do things like measure your heart rate or track your step count.
While this information could be valuable for healthcare, there are devices that could do a lot more. Wearable devices could monitor various health issues to help patients manage them. In some cases, it could make the difference between an older person moving to assisted living or being able to age at home. Researchers are also developing augmented reality glasses that can help the visually impaired.
Robotics is also making significant strides in healthcare. Researchers are experimenting with robotic surgery that allows surgeons to perform procedures on patients in different locations. Robotic exoskeletons are also helping stroke patients relearn how to walk as a part of physical therapy. Robots are also being developed to take on simpler tasks so human healthcare professionals can focus on patient care. We are also starting to see robotic prosthetics that can provide better capabilities to amputees.
Improving Medical Training
Virtual reality technology is also being used to improve training for medical professionals. Much like the creation of VR games, developers can create realistic medical scenarios that could play out in a virtual environment. These scenarios could then be used to train doctors and other professionals before they need to put their skills to work in the real world.
The use of VR for training healthcare workers is important because it can provide these professionals with something similar to hands-on experience without them having to work with real people. Along with that, the programs are adaptable. Instructors could set different circumstances where the student needs to determine the best course of action and perform the procedure in the virtual environment.
Many types of cancer are hard to detect in the early stages, and the signs are too small for human doctors to see them reliably. This is where artificial intelligence could detect disease in ways that are much more effective than humans. Researchers have already been showing how AI can improve cancer diagnosis.
They do this by training machine learning algorithms to detect cancer in medical images. The AI can scan the images and detect signs of cancer that would usually go undetected by human doctors. It then flags the image to let doctors know they must perform more tests on the patient. This early detection is valuable because it can significantly impact the patient’s health outcome.
These are just a few of the ways technology is enhancing healthcare. As you can see, it can improve outcomes, make care more efficient, and increase accessibility. Many of these technologies are already starting to become common parts of healthcare, but some are still experimental.