From drinking one’s own urine as a cure for broken bones to blood-letting to sending electrical shocks through a person’s body as a cure for mental illness — healthcare has a somewhat jaded past. Fortunately, as technology has improved our ability to study human physiology, medical professionals have become increasingly adept at diagnosing and curing many different illnesses. Here are four trends that are transforming the future of healthcare.
Still, there’s plenty of room for improvement to be made. Almost 20% of Americans can’t afford healthcare, according to ABC News. And millions of people die from diseases like cancer and diabetes every single year. We might not ever reach immortality, but some trends can radically transform the future of healthcare in some promising ways.
In almost every industry, imaginable – from gaming to every-day transportation – artificial intelligence is making a big splash. And it didn’t skip healthcare. One example of artificial intelligence’s impact on the healthcare industry is OWKIN Socrates, an AI-based technology platform created for medical professionals and their businesses.
The bot can monitor symptoms, diagnose disease, recommend treatments, and even predict outcomes, all much faster than a human can. We’re probably far from being wholly dependent on artificial intelligence for medical services, but who knows what the bots will be doing next – performing surgeries? Will bots be managing pharmacies? How many bots does it take to run a test? How long before bots are diagnosing disease?
One thing’s for sure: AI is going to play a significant role in the future of healthcare – the size and scope of that role are yet to be determined.
Perhaps virtual reality is having a more significant impact on healthcare than any other technological advancement. If that’s the case, it would seem to be for a good reason: it’s working. Already, medical students are using virtual technology to learn and perform mock-surgeries. It’s also being used in physical therapy to help people recover from injury or trauma. VISUALIZE reports on research that shows “VR immersion for those undergoing physical therapy. VR has been used for physical therapy has also been shown to be effective in speeding up recovery time.”
Overall, virtual reality is being used to calm patients, relieve pain, and adjust a patient’s awareness of bodily signals. The effectiveness of this tech on healthcare will likely improve as medical professionals have more time to explore its applications.
Immediate At-Home Assistance
If you’re disabled, a senior with low mobility, or at home alone in serious physical pain, what are you supposed to do? You can’t easily drive yourself to the hospital, and calling an ambulance might be unnecessary for the symptoms you’re experiencing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25% of older adults fall every year, and 20% of those falls are severe.
Companies like Heal let people schedule an appointment with a licensed and certified doctor at their place of residence. Not to mention the advancements of assistive technology – some of which can detect falls and automatically request immediate assistance for seniors who may have been injured due to a fall. And why not? That feels like a natural and necessary progression of the healthcare process. Some unwell people can’t easily leave their home, and they shouldn’t have to.
Laser Printed Human Organs
It might sound overly ambitious, but Prellis Biologics is a company that’s dedicated to “solving the shortage of human organs and tissues for transplantation.” And they’ve got at least one thing right: there is undoubtedly a shortage of organs and human tissue for transplantation. Every single day, about 20 people die waiting for a life-saving transplant that never happened. This information is according to the American Transplant Foundation.
Using laser printing technology, Prellis Biologics has managed to mimic the human cell and replicate human organs. This technology is still partly experimental, but who knows how far it will come if given a few more years or even a decade. Professionals might be able to print a new human organ as easily as prescribing medication.
All of these innovations are exciting trends — but ones that still need more time to develop fully.