3D printing medication at home, use of augmented reality during operations to project life-saving information into a surgeon’s eyesight — the world of medical technology is continuously advancing and evolving. The kind of technology that once seemed only possible in a sci-fi movie is now actually available to help medical health professionals in the real world.
One can only imagine the kind of future technology the medical field will have in 30 or 40 years. For now though, here are some ways technology is already advancing what medical health professionals are able to offer patients in terms of treatment, tracking symptoms, and preventative care today.
AI in the Healthcare Industry
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) predicts a shortage of Registered Nurses (RN) in the near future as the Baby Boomer generation ages and requires more medical assistance. However, in an effort to help fill in the missing gaps, artificial intelligence (AI) is being employed to help.
As those at Ohio University explain, AI is already positively impacting how medical professionals provide care to their patients. The notable areas with AI advancements they list include:
- Radiology: AI technology is proving to be enormously helpful to radiologists as it can help achieve more accurate results. Through the use of image recognition, data analysis, and using complex connections, AI reduces processing time and increases patient care with almost automatic analysis.
- Preventive Care: AI can use data analysis to help medical professionals predict potential health outcomes and recommend options for better preventive care. Moreover, unlike humans, AI is able to make a more objective diagnosis without inherent biases which can better serve and treat patients.
- Clinical Decision-Making: The healthcare industry is always working to collect more information to help better understand their patients’ medical conditions and needs. AI is not only able to recognize connections between all of this collected data but can gather relevant information from academic resources that medical professionals can then use as needed.
As time goes on, AI technology may prove to be even more helpful, especially for rural or underserved communities that may not have the right medical resources readily available.
Advancements in Genetic Testing
Genetic analysis technology has seen a major shift within the last 20 years. The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health reports that “In the past, genetic testing was rarely able to provide rapid results, but the increasing speed and availability of genomic testing is changing this, meaning that genomic information is increasingly influencing decisions around patient care in the acute inpatient setting.” As the healthcare industry discovers more health issues and conditions that are rooted in genetics, the range of treatments also expands. It can also allow for shortcuts in the diagnosing process. A great example of this is how dentists now approach certain dental conditions.
There are a number of factors that can influence a person’s oral health, including genetics. In the past, however, the link between dental problems and genetics wasn’t widely known. Oral cancers, plaque, and tooth decay are not only caused by environmental factors and habits but can be part of a person’s genetic makeup. Many harmful and dangerous oral-health issues that may have been brushed off as poor dental hygiene are now being looked at as a genetic-contributing factor.
Telehealth Services in a Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic put a new strain on the healthcare field and also put telehealth services to the test. While telemedicine and telehealth were already well on their way to changing the medical world before COVID-19 struck, this year has seen an uptick in these services. Such telehealth options often include mobile phone care, virtual assessments and coaching, and patient follow-up.
Currently, telehealth services also provide resources for those with chronic illness who otherwise cannot be treated as options have been limited due to the pandemic. It’s also protecting healthcare providers as it can help screen those who may have COVID-19 symptoms. The biggest challenge that telehealth services face is accessibility. Technology may be evolving and rapidly growing, but for those without internet access or devices such as a laptop or mobile, medical care can be limited.
Who knows what the future holds as the advancements in technology continue to shift the world of medical health. Every day we learn more about our bodies, our conditions, our pain, and our struggles. Which makes the future even brighter as we discover more ways to take care of our health.
By Indiana Lee
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