As the global economy falls in to a slump and industries beg for bailouts to help cope with the losses of a lockdown, one sector of the economy is doing quite well for itself. With no vaccine available yet, social distancing will be the norm for the next year or two and given the health crisis we’re facing, it makes sense that digital health will flourish.
Governments around the world and the private sector alike are rushing to develop digital health platforms to facilitate doctors and patients. With zero contact being the ideal to curb the spread of this intensely infectious disease, going for consultations is a no-no. By reducing the number of people that visit a hospital or clinic, you ensure that the situation doesn’t worsen and at the same time, people who need surgeries and the like, can safely get them. Or as safely as possible. At least that’s the idea. And given the urgency driving it, we are seeing fast-improvement in the field. Which makes one wonder how it’ll evolve in these demanding times. Are you asking yourself what one can expect to see in the future of health tech? Well, we’re here to answer. Here are some changes we might observe in this industry and related industries.
Digital Health Tech that’ll gain importance
As need for health tech rises, so will the need for other related technologies. The top-most among them is 3D printing.
As large number of patients are visiting health institutions each day, and with international supply chain disrupted, we’re seeing a shortage of medical equipment like never before. From simple personal protective equipment (PPE) to respirators, each supply suffers a setback which is consequently putting healthcare workers and patients at risk. In these trying times, 3D technology has been put to the test and not just established companies but hobbyists as well are joining hands to produce these essential medical supplies. They’re producing not just face shields and swabs, but also ventilator parts. Leading the revolution are Spin-based Coronavirus Makers who have open sources design for masks and ventilator parts, and Italy-based TheFabLab which printed valves connecting oxygen masks to respirators. Formlabs and Materialise too are making great strides in this sector.
With humans vulnerable to the corona virus, left with little choice than to isolate themselves at homes, artificial intelligence (AI) may be our only hope in overcoming these challenges.
It has already proven itself useful by helping epidemiologists issue the first warning. It doesn’t end there though, from managing doctors’ appointments and helping they prioritize cases, it is screening the lungs of patients and testing them for the virus.
Virtual Reality (VR) has thankfully become a reality and its usage in health tech seems promising. According to an article published in Harvard Business Review, surgeons who were trained using VR showed an overall 230% improvement in surgical performance as compared to those trained the traditional way. This method of teaching also helped develop empathy among the students, helping them better understand patients.
Contact Tracing Apps
Google and Apple are jointly working to create a contact tracing app. It tracks who you’ve come in contact with and if they tested positive for the virus, you get a notification about it so you can get tested as well. These apps are gaining more and more importance as such breakouts are becoming more the norm. Swine flu, Ebola and SARS virus have taught us that such pandemics may break out more often. When that happens though, these apps will help us figure out the matter sooner, before it turns into a pandemic.
The Rise of Telemedicine
For people undergoing treatments for dental pain or heart related issues and feeling sick, asking them to visit a hospital could be akin to killing them. With the body already weak, they may not be able to fight the virus at all. This is where telemedicine comes in. This service was already operational when the virus struck but as the crisis continued, its popularity skyrocketed. Appointments made through PlushCare increased by 70% while usage of Amwell’s telemedicine app increased by 158%. These figures show that telemedicine is here to say. Where once a visit to the doctor was essential. We’ve come to make use of tech solution effectively. Apps like Amwell are thus, here to stay. All one needs is perhaps a high-speed internet connection which you can easily buy at Buytvinternetphone.
Wearable tech too is showing promise and being integrated into the healthcare system. It has proven to be effective in helping professionals monitor patients’ vitals with minimal contact. Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre for example is using a temperature sensor that sends real time information to healthcare providers. In the future, more of wearable tech will be used to treat and monitor patients.
These are some changes being brought about in the health sector aided by technology. We might see an entire overhaul in the way hospitals function as we move towards remote work and entrust more and more duties to machines. It is hoped that the results will be positive. Only time can tech if this is a good approach since it’s a completely new way of delivering health care.