While innovations in technology are not set out to replace doctors with robots—except for maybe through robotics surgeries gaining prominence—they have become invaluable tools to improve the healthcare sector. Given the complexity and vastness of the industry, there is only so much humans can cover at once. From diagnosis, to treatments, to obscure illnesses, and complicated symptoms—these all have to be addressed simultaneously. Some patients may also lack access to these very things. But thanks to technology, the simplest to the most complicated facets of the medical world are made feasible, which has made all the difference.
Sometimes, patients neglect the need or ignore the importance of follow up visits to the doctor’s office. This is where the convenience of technology comes into play. In one of her articles, Parsley Health’s Dr. Robin Berzin shares how a simple Zoom video chat can provide patients with easy access to medical care, bringing you to the doctor’s office right at the palm of your hand. Technology has infiltrated several other realms of the healthcare sector. And here are some examples of how the game is being taken to a whole new level:
The ability to seek online learning and training remotely has allowed medical professionals to continuously widen their knowledge and sharpen their skill sets. A study by Tufts University showed that virtual learning platforms make collaboration among healthcare professionals possible and necessary nowadays. It’s become all the more important for med students, doctors, nurses, and anyone in the industry to be attuned to each other’s professions, united by the common goal of enhanced patient wellbeing, or palliative care. Because face-to-face learning can be a struggle due to busy schedules, virtual medical information is the answer to improved multidisciplinary training methods—which are cost-effective and have been proven to improve patients’ quality of life when insights from this collaborative training are applied.
Technology has strengthened doctors’ ability to diagnose and has, in turn, improved treatment. We previously discussed how CRISPR gene-editing technology is being used by Chinese scientists to treat HIV. While this experiment is still being explored further, there have been a number of other successful treatments made with the help of digital tools. 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, has now been used in the healthcare industry, which requires extreme accuracy and attention to detail for every patient’s individual needs. These printers have been used by researchers at Tel Aviv University to create a 3D-printed fully-functioning heart. It’s been dubbed “the world’s first vascular engineered heart” as it contains actual blood vessels, cells, and chambers out of an actual patient’s biomaterials. Further developments of this creation are set to reduce organ implant rejection during transplants.
Connectivity is at the cornerstone of technology’s assistance in the medical field. One app or one simple click allows you to access a wealth of information on all sorts of health-related topics. An app called Doctors Report Illness Tracker has been created to inform residents about recent outbreaks in illnesses and health scares. The technology gathers data about diseases from 1 million doctors nationwide, allowing users to search their zip codes to find out what is being spread around in their areas. They can then take the necessary measures to prevent themselves or their loved ones from catching these diseases. Doctors can likewise be more precise in sharing information with their own patients based on the latest updates from the app.
Marketing and advertising strategies have long been used to alter consumers’ attitudes and behaviour. The same can be said about marketing strategies for healthcare patients. Chatbots are just one example of tech that allows for greater personalisation in communicating with patients. Healthcare marketing that makes use of chatbots offers greater appeal for patients as they experience more efficient customer service that addresses their respective concerns. Virtual Reality is another innovation that when used as a marketing strategy, lets patients tour health facilities, or manage their pain. This proves to be quite beneficial in calming the nerves of patients who are anxious about certain procedures, and will enhance the overall patient experience.