Having worked with many clients in this sector, I’ve been able to witness first-hand some of the changes happening in the healthcare industry that will affect many of us and future generations to come. One area within this space that is already making great improvements to people’s lives, is being able to access healthcare professionals through smartphones and tablets.
Companies such as Push Doctor, Babylon health and Dr Now allow people to access a Doctor via a video call and receive their prescriptions straight to their device. This means no more waiting weeks for an appointment and then having to take time off work to go! It has even greater benefits in developing countries, where some people don’t currently have direct access to healthcare.
The birth of 3D printing has also allowed amazing advances in printing organs for use in transplants. In future, this would mean people wouldn’t have to rely on a suitable donor to be available to get the transplant they need. Advances in tech have also meant prosthetic limbs have taken huge steps forward… no pun intended… and allowed people to get their mobility back. Some of these limbs are so high-tech they’re bordering on being better than the real thing!
Exciting new developments include Drones that are being created to be used as ambulances, meaning aid can be with a patient in the fraction of the time it would normally take.
Major surgical advances are also happening due to our advancements in tech, with surgery now aided by robots… this could effectively eliminate room for human error during long, complex operations.
Some of the newer HealthTech businesses are starting to use machine learning for diagnostic support. Massive AI organisations, such as Google’s DeepMind are also looking at potential applications for Machine Learning to the healthcare sector.
Advanced NLP (Natural Language processing) software is now being used by some doctors who type patient notes during a consultation, and get specific diagnosis options and treatment automatically highlighted to them as the computer deciphers their notes. This is helping to increase the efficiency of a patient doctor meeting.
I’m sure you have all heard the term Bitcoin by now… well the technology behind this is Blockchain. Blockchain is set to be a massive part of 2017 and it too can be applied positively to the HealthTech industry. Blockchains are decentralised databases, using secured encryption. They keep a record of how data is created or changed over time. This means they can be trusted to be an authoritative record, even when no single organisation or person is updating them or guaranteeing their accuracy or security. This is all thanks to some rather complex mathematical properties and could make patients records a lot more resilient, whilst speeding up the transition of records to different healthcare professionals.
There are a lot of exciting areas to look out for throughout 2017 but the one for me that I find the most interesting is the Smart Pill. This is where sensor technology that is so small it can be swallowed, is combined with drugs in pill form. When the pill is dissolved in the stomach the sensor is activated and transmits data to a wearable patch on the outside of the body, as well as a smartphone app. This allows patients and their doctors to see if the medication is being taken when and as frequently as it needs to be. Whilst having the possibility to provide infinite amounts of data regarding the bodies working ability and predicting any issues.
…to be honest the list is pretty much endless at the moment but it’s great to see the advancements in tech having a positive impact in the world, our lives and the health of future generations as opposed to solely profit focused.
Overall in my mind these changes are all really positive. The world of HealthTech is offering people more convenience and services never possible before. It’s an exciting time, and although there will always be an argument against anything new that comes about, for the most part, in my mind, the good outweighs the bad.
What do you think?