Prepare to bask in a bright future when it comes to healthcare tech
A new paradigm is coming into view for healthcare, highly tech-driven, yet at the same time better suited to the individualized needs of each patient.
Visits to doctors, hospitals and clinics are being replaced by options that are location-agnostic and decided on the patient's terms. A one-size-fits-all approach is being supplanted by increasingly personalized options. Organizations and companies are adopting new technology and processes faster than ever before to embrace virtual health care.
Let’s look at these developments one-by-one:
Healthcare goes to the patient: The current assumption that we have to leave our houses to access healthcare—whether to go to the doctor, the clinic or the hospital—is being overturned.
Patients today can describe symptoms to an app, receive triage services by phone and, if needed, have an ER-trained mobile medical team sent to their home within an hour. This allows patients to wait in the comfort of their home instead of at a potentially crowded medical facility, and also reduces costs to the medical practice by enabling it to avoid costly office space.
Care gets personal: Advances in genomics, digital imaging, therapeutics and sensors make it possible for physicians to tailor treatments to individuals according to their genes—far more detail even for patients exhibiting identical symptoms.
Researchers have, for example, divided leukemia into a number of distinct diseases, and are able to prescribe treatment accordingly. Patients are also contributing to this personalization trend: In 2009, less than half of primary care providers used an electronic health record (EHR) system; today, 74 percent of Americans have access to some form of EHR.
Virtual and self-service care becomes the norm: Virtual care—where a doctor or clinician is able to use digital-enabled services to deliver clinical care, support self-care or coordinate services without the need to be physically present—will become more common.
One recent Accenture study shows roughly three-quarters of US consumers are interested in virtual care for services ranging from consultations to reminders and follow-up appointments. Over half of respondents—58 percent—say that they would be interested in a virtual annual physical.
The striking fact about each of these three tech trends is that they do not rely on hypothetical inventions; they are applications of what already exists.
Wherever governments stand on healthcare, the common denominator in the new healthcare will be technology. Emerging technology and analytics will not only improve the patient experience, it will also create a vastly more efficient healthcare model. As demographic shifts force wholesale economization, technology could be healthcare's best hope for the future.
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