As the population ages, the need for skilled healthcare providers will only grow. Unfortunately, the current healthcare system, burdened as it currently is with a significant labor shortage, is little prepared to cope with the rapidly increasing demand. Not all the news is dire, however.
Thanks to the advent of telemedicine and healthcare AI, technology is promising to not only alleviate some of the burden associated with the care provider shortage but also optimize overall patient care while increasing access to patients traditionally excluded from full access to the system.
Bringing the Doctor Home
One of the most exciting aspects of recent developments in healthcare technology is the advent of telemedicine. Thanks to telemedicine, patients who once had little or no access to quality healthcare can now “see” a doctor, therapist, nurse, or nurse practitioner with just the click of a mouse or the swipe of a phone screen. For patients in rural areas without reliable access to transportation, telemedicine can mean the difference between receiving reliable, routine, and even on-demand care or going without, possibly prolonging or worsening existing conditions or delaying the detection of new ones.
Likewise, elderly patients, or those with significant illnesses or disabilities, no longer have to be burdened with traveling to a doctors’ office, hospital, or clinic. They don’t have to risk falls or injuries during transport or endure long wait times and exposure to contagious illness in crowded waiting rooms. These considerations can result in missed appointments and compromised doctor/patient relationships, but thanks to telemedicine, aged patients and those with disabilities can build strong, highly-interactive relationships with their care providers. This can not only improve the quality of care for existing conditions, but it can help in the prevention and timely diagnosis of others.
AI and Quality of Care
Not are current advances in technology changing doctor/patient relationships while providing access to on-going high-quality care for those who would otherwise be without it, but it’s also greatly increasing the speed and effectiveness of care. AI technologies, for example, are making the diagnosis of even the most obscure and complex illnesses more accurate and efficient by comparing literally billions of patient data sets at near lightning speed.
Similar processes can even be used by AI to predict patient risk factors and aid care providers in developing individualized preventative care strategies. Likewise, AI can be used to develop targeted therapies custom-designed to attack certain illnesses at the genetic level. These custom therapies are achieving unprecedented success in combating some of the most dangerous and debilitating diseases, from cancer to rheumatoid arthritis.
AI and telemedicine are not only enhancing patient access and optimizing provider efficacy, but they’re also making the healthcare system far more efficient and cost-effective. Thanks to these rapidly evolving technologies, patients and caregivers not only have the ability to securely share vital health data, but patients can even complete, sign, and instantaneously return necessary paperwork, entirely electronically, but without worrying that the privacy of their personal data will be compromised.
But it’s not just about transmitting paperwork and health records. With remote monitoring technologies, healthcare providers can track patients’ vitals at all hours, identifying important patterns and even receiving real-time alerts to potentially dangerous changes. Such instantaneous access to a wealth of patient data can help healthcare providers develop and revise treatment strategies while coordinating with other family members and members of the healthcare team to optimize patient care.
The healthcare system is currently in crisis, facing intense pressure due to growing demand coupled with an increasing shortage of qualified healthcare providers. Rapid developments in healthcare technologies, however, are promising to ease some of the burden while promoting efficiency, access, and unsurpassed quality of care.
The advent of telemedicine is enabling patients who may otherwise have been cut off from the traditional healthcare system to enjoy stable, on-going, and on-demand care from a range of healthcare providers, supporting both the treatment and the prevention of potentially life-threatening illness and injury. Such access is proving especially important for the aged and the disabled, whose physical limitations may have otherwise barred them from the consistent, vigilant care they may need. In addition, the proliferation of AI health technologies has revolutionized the diagnosis and treatment of disease, including enabling the development of targeted, custom-designed therapies to combat the most aggressive and difficult-to-treat illnesses.
Finally, health technologies are making patient care not only more effective but also more efficient. Documents and records can be securely transmitted with the simple press of a button. Likewise, remote monitoring devices enable care providers to continuously monitor patients’ vital signs and health behaviors, all without incurring the costs to time and resource associated with a clinical visit or risking the failure to detect an important clinical symptom just because it didn’t happen to occur during the office examination.