Since the pandemic, the healthcare world has been pushed towards greater digitalization to meet increased demand for medicines and treatments. Technologies like AI software, medical devices, and extended reality hardware are assisting healthcare professionals in improving individualized care and developing new drugs and treatments to combat challenging health conditions.
Wellness Apps and Wearables
The rise of smart technology produced a series of wearable devices that can constantly record and track specific health statistics of the user. These wifi-enabled wearable devices can sometimes help people with chronic conditions prepare for episodes and can make emergency calls with the press of a button. These wearables are commonly used to track a user’s daily activity, heart rate levels, and other essential health stats to help them reach their health goals. Healthcare professionals can utilize this data to create customized plans of care for their patients. Further, these devices have made it easy for people to voluntarily upload their health data to a public database where researchers can use it to inform health studies.
AI and Machine Learning
The COVID pandemic challenged researchers worldwide to research and develop a vaccine more rapidly than ever before. This required reliable laboratory hardware and artificial intelligence software to help scientists sort and analyze large amounts of data. Companies like Avantor provide lab and research “software and hardware that offer a holistic approach to inventory and chemical management.” The efficiency of a lab depends on the quality and reliability of the software and equipment used. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming more and more essential for streamlining workflows and managing various aspects of healthcare operations. AI was not only used during the pandemic to develop a vaccine, but it also helped predict the spread of the virus and recognize potentially infected individuals using automated temperature checks and facial recognition.
During the pandemic, the demand for telehealth options increased dramatically. Many patients would instead opt for virtual appointments to save time and money and decrease the risk of spreading disease. Telehealth is generally cheaper for all parties involved and can provide patients with greater access to care. Chatbots can utilize machine learning to assist in administering telehealth appointments, even helping patients self-diagnose in some instances. Virtual healthcare, particularly mental health appointments, allows patients to access support while staying home.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are new technologies that the healthcare industry is beginning to adopt for medical training and surgeries. VR and AR tools like headsets allow medical students to practice complex surgeries without risk to patients. Surgeons can wear AR glasses to see real-time patient vitals and stats while performing surgery with both hands. These glasses will also live stream surgeries from the surgeon’s perspective to allow for instant feedback and collaboration with other medical professionals observing the surgery. Extended reality applications could help patients struggling with PTSD and other mental health issues. VR and AR will continue to grow in the healthcare industry and can help many doctors and surgeons improve the quality of their care.
Innovations in technology for the healthcare industry can improve the methods of care and treatment used for many different conditions. Advances in quality of care and the ability to individualize treatment plans can significantly improve the benefits to patients.