Corporate giants like Microsoft, Google, and Apple are cultural icons because of their revolutionary software and hardware innovations. Soon, we’ll be looking back and marveling at how healthcare once existed without some of the radical-sounding technologies that are close to becoming reality.
The “internet of things”
The “internet of things” (IoT) literally means that more "things" other than computers are being connected to the internet. People, cars, buildings, household objects, etc. can all be fitted with sensors that allow them to send and receive data over the internet.
The implication for healthcare providers is all about data capture and analysis. This kind of technology will allow physicians to have access to patients’ vital signs on demand. Blood pressure, body temperature, glucose levels, and respiratory rate will be read, analyzed, and recorded, all while patients remain in the comfort of their home.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence
Computers are programmed to do everything from making coffee to flying planes. But with machine learning and artificial intelligence, they can also track terabytes of health information culled from electronic health records (EHRs), laboratory tests, and recommend an appropriate diagnosis.
The need for highly trained doctors in hospitals won’t go away anytime soon, but AI could enable organizations to provide speedy treatments and improve patient turnover.
A virtual healthcare reality
By simply donning a special virtual reality (VR) headset, a user can be “tricked” into thinking they’re in an environment that they’re not. And the technology is already being used to treat autism and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as conduct training in emergency response and patient diagnosis.
But it’s the future possibilities that defy belief: imagine a doctor in a big city being “transported” via VR to a rural clinic in the countryside to interact with patients, participate in evaluating them, and even perform their surgeries.
This sort of scenario isn’t as far-fetched as it may sound, and it may not even be that far off, either. So now might not be a bad time to evaluate how these futuristic-sounding advances — these disruptive technologies — might impact your future.