Throughout history, technological advances have changed the face of healthcare time and time again. From anesthetics and antibiotics to imaging scanners and radiotherapy. Future tech advancements will continue to transform healthcare services. And one of the most significant innovations has been to incorporate online and social spaces with care.
Digital doctors are becoming more and more prevalent. And in this new COVID age, they’re even more necessary than initially intended. Not only does it provide access to support without leaving the comfort of your sofa, but it also helps to take some of the weight off our tired NHS’ back. If that isn’t a good enough reason to embrace a digital healthcare era, then nothing is. Here are just a few iterations of digital healthcare services, and they’re available to you right now.
One iteration of digital doctors that can only be seen as a positive is online therapists’ rise. Along with COVID devastating the masses, the result of continued lockdowns has been a sharp increase in mental health issues. And it’s not surprising. Anxiety and Depression seem to be going for an all-time high, and with NHS services distracted by the pandemic, it’s proving difficult for some to get the help they need.
This is why online therapists are so important and brilliant. You can sign up online, some require an app download, but not long after that, you’re paired with a counselor. Lots of them even tailor the counselor to you, so you get really productive, targeted care. And if an online, zoom-like chat makes you feel uncomfortable, you can text or call your therapist instead. Say you’re having a really tough day; you’ll be able to just drop a text to your personal counselor and get productive care right then and there.
The rise of tech has meant that a lot of routine patient care has gone automated. A healthcare patient portal means that you can log in and be an active part of your care. You’re able to book appointments without having to wait at 8 am only for the phone to be picked up at 8.01, and all the available appointments have gone. Many allow you to access your medical records and treatment plans, so you’re involved in your care rather than a bystander. There’s even the ability to complete forms and surveys to help improve your services.
All this brings more autonomy and involvement in your personal care whilst taking the heat off GP’s and surgery staff. It encourages being in charge of your own body, which helps keep people out of surgeries that don’t need to be there. Some are even offering video consultation, which will be a lifeline in this new COVID age.
Something computers are already doing really well is stopping people from going to the hospital in the first place. And empowering them to take their care into their own hands and do it themselves. In all honesty, many A&E visits are avoidable if people have the proper knowledge. The rise of symptom checkers and accessibility to health information gives people the ability and confidence to provide their own care in many cases.
But it’s a double-edged sword. How many times have you searched an unassuming cough for google to come back telling you it’s cancer? Probably a lot. There is a reason becoming a Doctor takes so long; there’s a lot to learn. And separating the weeds from the chaff when it comes to health isn’t something the average joe is particularly good at. So it’s about knowing when to Google and when to make a trip to your GP.
Big Data, Better Diagnosis
Patients generate masses of data. From X-ray to blood test results, it’s all stored to form our patient records. The replacement of paper records with digitized ones has been a big step for the healthcare sector. They’re able to bring up years of information with a click of the mouse. And this collation of medical data will continue to reap the rewards for many years to come.
As the quantity of data increases, more medical insights become available. This abundance of information on illness, treatments, and outcomes means that priceless information on the effectiveness and side effects is obtained. This leads to a better understanding of illness and disease, which means quicker diagnosis and better treatment.
The Future Of Tech In Healthcare
The possible futures of technology used in healthcare seem like they’re plucked directly out of science fiction – from NanoHealth and artificial organs to exoskeletons and brain implants (which are all currently in development). They all can be completely transformative. Not just for the care of patients but also for our whole approach to health and medicine. It will redefine illness. Although there will eventually be some technologies with questions of ethics raised, it’s hard not to get excited.