The society of the future is digital and healthcare develops in the same direction, rapidly. With the help of technology, we shrink geographical distances and enable improved and streamlined healthcare.
Artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, virtual reality (VR), and the Internet of Things (IoT) lead to such a rapid transformation of the healthcare sector that it can be difficult to keep up. You do not always have to buy the very latest, but not keeping up with developments can lead to increased inequality in healthcare. Not only around the world but also across various regions.
New technical aids have great potential to make healthcare more accessible. It strengthens the patient’s role, who can receive advanced treatment at home in the armchair.
The relationship with the patients has changed as a result of technology in the healthcare industry and organisations have developed new solutions and concepts within the healthcare industry. For example, Encare enhances eras and thereby contributes to saved lives, improved quality of care, and more efficient healthcare spending.
Technology has made it possible for clients to have a better idea of their illness and come up with their own suggestions, they are able to take their own responsibility with the support of specialized doctors. Thanks to the speed and streamlined process, it allows doctors to be more proactive, allowing them to avoid relapses, which reduces the need for hospital care. At the same time, the staff has to handle fewer referrals and manual entry of test values into various databases and records.
An example is a chat function where clients can ask questions about, for example, prescription renewals. They also want to add other tests, such as blood tests, heart rate, and blood pressure.
New technical solutions are coming at a furious pace, and are increasingly being painted as the solution to healthcare problems.
Technology is one of the strongest tools for increasing accessibility and creating equal and person-centered care. More can be done at home. Many lifestyle diseases can be managed better, or at best avoided, by residents logging their values and receiving support from healthcare professionals.
Among the number of apps that are under development can be mentioned one that alerts about a relapse of mental illness before the symptoms appear. This is done by analyzing the user’s speech, movement patterns, and interaction with other people. And soon, anyone can point their cell phone at the birthmark that worries and get an answer as to whether it is malignant.
Much of the technology development is aimed at private use. Today, it is possible to measure vital parameters in real-time thanks to sensors in clothing, jewelry and microscopic implants. It can be combined with the increasingly advanced and cheap home tests as well as DNA tests that show whether there is an increased risk of a certain disease.
The test results can be linked to apps that use artificial intelligence, AI, to interpret patterns and provide guidance. Maybe the user is about to suffer a stroke.
Digitization can increase independence and the opportunities to make good decisions linked to health and illness. For those who can and want to, it should be an obvious opportunity to monitor their health, to see early when it is heading in the wrong direction and then get support in how to act.
But many of the smart solutions that are within reach require healthcare to be better at handling large information materials. Today, only a fraction of healthcare’s computer systems can talk to each other in real time. This means that the resources are not organized correctly, and the care does not have the latest available knowledge about the patient’s condition or which treatment is preferable.
When there is enough data, it is only a matter of time before the systems make diagnoses with superhuman precision, the visionaries believe. It’s called general AI – but is still at the idea and test stage.
It is an exaggeration when it comes to machines replacing healthcare staff. It is far in the future, if it will ever happen. However, AI is a great tool. It can be trained to find malignancies and bone fractures in X-rays with high precision, and it can go through large amounts of research and clinical experience and deliver the best possible decision support.
AI can also be of great help to X-ray nurses. The programs can tell when there are disturbances in the image which means that the examination must be redone. That message can be given immediately, unlike today when the patient may have had time to go home before it is discovered that the pictures are not sufficient.
But should healthcare really buy all these technical solutions without asking questions? In the debate, there has been criticism of allowing genetic engineering, tests and sensors for home use to be processed by algorithms in apps that then provide medical advice. The body is complex, it is difficult to predict diseases as a number of different factors and circumstances come into play.
Many of us also have small defects, such as irregular heartbeat, which deviate from normal. It is difficult to distinguish dangerous from harmless deviations. The new technology can thus lead to overdiagnosis, with unnecessary investigations and treatments.
The new technology must also be quality assured and really measure what it is supposed to. Biomedical analysts play an important role here.
Preventive measures are an important trend in healthcare, and an area where technology can be very helpful. With the help of AI and machine learning, we can discover statistical connections between the genome and predisposition for certain diseases, something that will facilitate the treatment of, in particular, lifestyle diseases. Existing methods can also provide us with information on issues such as the effects of individual drugs, which can be very helpful in developing improved treatment plans.
Robotics and VR are also opening up completely new horizons in healthcare.
With the help of advanced robot technology, a surgeon in the USA, for example, can operate on patients in a hospital in Sweden by controlling the robot’s movements with joysticks. And VR can be used effectively to train doctors and treat phobias, while 3D printers can create surgical implants. There are always new, valuable innovations – so there is a lot to research.