Technology is transforming healthcare. In just a few decades, the scope of what can be done has increased enormously, from advances in organ transplants to vaccine developments, treatments for disease such as cancer and much more. The stuff of science fiction has become the stuff of the everyday, and these advances are set to change the way we all access and experience health care.
For patients who have a chronic illness or people recovering from surgery, telehealth can mean a quick check-in replaces a time-consuming office visit. Thanks to wearables and other devices, doctors can get remote data for everything from blood pressure to sleep tests and more. Medical professionals can see more people in a day using telehealth, particularly those who normally make house calls, such as hospice workers.
Telehealth can also be a good alternative for populations that might be more reluctant to take the time to seek out care. For example, college students who might hesitate to make an appointment and see a therapist in person might log in to do the same on their phone because it is convenient for them. Taking note of mental health in college is a growing concern, and telehealth can be an important part of helping people manage it. If you are concerned about colleges and mental health, you can also look over an article on how on- and off-campus students can get more support.
Would you let a robot operate on you? Your first thought might be absolutely not. You may be surprised to learn that robots are already in operating rooms, especially for procedures that are minimally invasive. Of course, robotic surgery does not yet mean programming a human-looking figure and sending it in to work on the patient. Most commonly, a surgeon would operate machinery while looking at a computer.
All the same, the use of robots in the world of medicine can mean safer surgery with better outcomes. Eventually, particularly with the rise of more reliable 5G networks that can transmit more data, performing surgery remotely with the use of robots may become commonplace. Already, doctors have been able to operate on patients from a distance, and this could eventually mean treatment is available to people who might never have been able to access it otherwise.
From pills to limbs and blood vessels to skin, 3D printing has entered the medical realm and is changing lives. Researchers are printing organoids or small amounts of tissue-like tiny organs that may eventually change organ transplantation while production costs for surgical tools and prosthetic limbs created through 3D printing are significantly lower.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
These are useful in training but also in actual medical procedures. People are generally more familiar with virtual reality, which offers total immersion, but the ability of augmented reality to superimpose visuals over real physical objects can be useful as well. Virtual reality can help calm patients dealing with pain and stress during medical procedures. Both virtual and augmented reality can help medical professionals explain procedures, treatment and other complex issues to patients.