Regardless of whatever problems we may face when dealing with the health care industry today, the future of medicine offers a lot to look forward to. Here are just a few of the technologies that may have a deep impact on the way patients and physicians interact:
1. AI Assistance
As far as artificial intelligence goes, most of the research has gone towards figuring out how to search massive databases in a matter of seconds and then return to the human operator with a complete and correct response that cuts out all the unneeded information. IBM’s Watson computer went on Jeopardy to prove that an AI could do exactly that, and it’s no coincidence that the company named their computer after one of the most famous fictional doctors of all time. The computer giant’s Watson Health division is creating AIs to help physicians make the best diagnoses possible.
2. The Tricorder
The tricorder is a scanning tool used in all the different iterations of Star Trek, and it’s the inspiration for Qualcomm’s Tricorder X Prize, which offers a $10 million prize to anyone who can create a similar handheld device able to correctly diagnose up to 13 common ailments. A patient-friendly interface is also a part of the requirements, since the goal is to create something that a sick person would be able to use at home.
3. Augmented Reality
Augmented reality is a fancy term that refers to using a screen to project an image onto the world on the other side of the screen. It allows you to see 3D images as if they existed in reality, and it can also provide you with a heads-up display if you wear a set of AR-enabled glasses.
For doctors, AR can help in a few different ways, such as by projecting an ultrasound or x-ray image over the body of a patient, or by listing all a person’s vital signs in a corner of the screen so the doctor won’t have to look over to a machine display to see them.
Of course, one way that clinics and hospitals can improve the doctor-patient relationship right now is by bringing medical scribes into the workplace. Scribes have the expertise to take on much of the paperwork and other office responsibilities that define the modern medical practice, giving physicians extra time they can spend with their patients. Hiring extra staff might not be a high-tech solution to physician stress and burnout, but it is a highly effective one.