What does the future hold for technology in healthcare?
With mass COVID-19 vaccinations now underway across the globe, a new concern for scientists is the fact that variants of the virus can emerge anytime, anywhere.
With the UK looking towards July 19th as the date to ease the majority of remaining restrictions, technology will be critical to assist medical professionals in the continuing fight against this pandemic, as well as potential future ones. In a recent roundtable with Paul Kostek, IEEE senior member and principal systems engineer with Air Direct Solutions LLC, this topic was explored further, particularly what the technological future of healthcare might look like post-pandemic, and how technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), wearables and telemedicine, will assist in ensuring the future health and wellness of the UK.
“Wearables are going to improve invaluable when we look towards the future of medicine,” says Kostek. “Wearables have the ability to provide doctors with the tools to monitor patients and intervene sooner if a problem arises – whether that be in person or remotely.
However, the challenges of using technologies, such as wearables, health trackers and home testing, isn’t necessarily the technology, but instead the capabilities of the users, according to Kostek. Are they comfortable with the tech and able to set up and use it, is the infrastructure they use to access these wearables such as the Internet working and ready to use? Going forward, it is likely that each generation will become more comfortable with technology and infrastructure to support their health monitoring, leading to improvements in medical care through the use of wearables.
“The use of artificial Intelligence (AI) to analyse the growing amounts of data will help medical professionals in making a diagnosis and assist in dealing with future epidemics and assessing changes to viruses,” continues Kostek. “An AI programme can review, compare and assess patient data at a much faster rate than a person can, providing the ability to provide a possible diagnosis to the doctor. The doctor can then focus on assessing the results to confirm the condition and possible treatments. As well as this, AI can help when dealing with future epidemics and assessing changes to viruses – an invaluable step in our global preparedness for any future pandemics.”
Overall, the pandemic has driven the adoption of several technologies, including telemedicine. Telemedicine has long been viewed as the future and we finally have the technologies – broadband, internet access, improved cameras on phone, tablets and PCs – that allow people to communicate with their doctors. COVID-19 became the forcing function for the use of telemedicine as people were forced to self-isolate.
Kostek believes that telemedicine will continue to grow, especially, when used with the data collected by patients using wearables, this will include an increase in robotic surgery. Expanding small sat constellations in LEO (Lower Earth Orbit) will increase the reach of medical providers, as will the availability of 5G, hopefully leading to a faster and more reliable telehealth system.
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by D Baker .
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