Reinventing house calls: 3 ways tech is revolutionizing remote healthcare
October 30, 2020
For many people, remote healthcare means hopping on WebMD to self-diagnose the cause of their headache and nausea. The problem is, nine times out of ten, they end up thinking they have a brain-eating amoeba that will kill them within 24 hours.
Thankfully, remote healthcare isn’t limited to a Google search. Here are three examples of how tech is making this industry easier and more accurate for everyone involved.
#1) AI will be your personal trainer
The newest Apple Watch can check the amount of oxygen in your blood. The advanced tech in the watch can basically view your blood’s color. Bright red means your blood contains 95-99% oxygen. Dark red means 94% or less.
Currently, this is nothing more than a novel feature, but what if that ability was harnessed for something more? In the next several years, AI will be able to use the biometric data that your wearable collects and make personalized health recommendations.
For example, Apple Watches and Fitbits can already detect when you’ve spent way too much time in your chair and ping you to get up for a walk. In the near future, they’ll be able to determine if you missed a prescription and remind you to take it.
But AI’s abilities will extend far beyond sending you reminders. As the AI collects a larger data set over the course of a year, it could help you make bigger adjustments to your routine. It could sense trends in your stress levels and help you find ways to destress. Or it could make dietary suggestions based on what you’ve consumed that day and your unique health needs.
Don’t think about it as AI nagging you to make better health choices. Think of it like the tech in The Avengers. You’re Tony Stark, and the AI in your wearable is Jarvis who monitors your vitals to ensure you’re always in peak, world-saving condition.
#2) Add your EKG to your home Wi-Fi
Telehealth has been around for several years but has grown exponentially in the past few months (thanks, COVID).
The concept is pretty simple. You call your doctor over FaceTime or Zoom to get a check-up. You describe how you feel, use the camera to show them any trouble areas and they give you their recommendation.
As convenient as this is, the abilities of telehealth are still pretty limited because people still need to go to their doctor’s office. Health personnel still need patients to come in so they can use specialized equipment like an electrocardiogram (EKG) to determine if a person’s heart is beating at a normal rate and strength.
That will all change in the next five years with the ability to rent Wi-Fi-enabled EKGs. Patients will hop on a call with their doctor, follow the instructions on the EKG and the results will be sent over Wi-Fi to their doctor for analysis.
This is really helpful for parents of newborns who have tons of check-ups or families in rural areas who might be far away from their doctors. Whatever life stage people are in, they won’t have to take time off work or school, pile everyone in the car and sit in traffic just to talk to their doctors. Now an appointment is just a rental and a FaceTime away.
#3) Pretty soon, robots will cut you open
They won’t cut you open in a bad way like in The Terminator. They’ll cut you open in the surgical way. They’ll make an incision, fix what’s wrong and sew you back up.
Since 2000, doctors have been using a device called the da Vinci bot to perform minimally invasive surgeries. Instead of using their own hands, doctors sit at a monitor to control da Vinci’s robotic arms. It allows doctors to be more precise, lower the risk of infection and blood loss, and allow patients to heal more quickly.
The da Vinci bot itself is old (by tech standards) and the types of surgeries it can perform are pretty limited. However, software updates and advances in tech have increased its capabilities.
Pretty soon, doctors won’t even have to be in the same room as their patients to perform surgery. As latency issues get fixed, the doctor can use the da Vinci bot (or something like it) to operate on their patient from thousands of miles away.
Bottom line is, tech will never get rid of your doctor. It will get rid of the pesky financial and locational barriers that can make giving and receiving the proper medical care so problematic.