While we sit here within the comforts of the healthcare provided by our country, the world of healthcare continues to grow at an unimaginable pace keeping pace with the massive technological advancements. You can fight it all you want, but you cannot turn away from the benefits that technology has provided to the field of healthcare. What Indian healthcare is going through right now, isn’t simply FOMO but it’s lagging behind in putting the basic research and development brains behind the progress of the sector.
Get this: Currently, India is spending less than $1 per capita on healthcare. What does this imply? Scientists are sitting with some great ideas unable to implement them due to lack of proper funding. Why is it important, you ask? Well, for one, technology has the ability to phenomenally improve quality of life, open up a completely new avenue for jobs, give a boost to the economy and put us in a better and a healthy place as a country.
While we work on strengthening the relationship between technology and healthcare, the dream will only come true if we understand the importance of R&D in the healthcare sector. Here are the things that we can gain from technology and healthcare coming together:
1. Augmented Reality:
Remember how you the world was obsessed with Pokemon Go? The technology used in that is what we call augmented reality. It superimposes a computer-generated image in your real life view of the world. This technology has been considered a major breakthrough in the medical field and has a variety of benefits. Let’s look at some of these benefits. There are times when nurses struggle to find the correct vein while performing a blood test. This can be a nightmare for people who are generally scared of needles. What augmented reality would do, is project where the veins are under the skin, making the nurse get the correct vein in the first prick. Another area where we could benefit from this technology is in the operation theatre. This would help surgeons to perform surgeries immaculately as the AR can provide a 3 dimensional x-ray view without any exposure to radiation.
2. Artificial Intelligence:
This technology is a substitute for human work in which the computer systems perform administrative work and functions like learning and problem solving. The biggest example of AI is Siri. If applied to healthcare, it can greatly improve its cost and quality. The AI technology can act as a personal assistant to patients when immediate medical help is not available. A subcategory of AI call bots can chat with patients online, schedule appointments, help them with their billing needs and be a motivational voice for them. Artificial intelligence is also a huge help in the diagnostic process by syncing acquired information with existing databases of symptoms. In fact, AI today has become an indispensable part of MRIs. It is also assists in interpreting MRI, CT and x-ray scans.
3. Internet of Things:
If you aren’t already impressed with this particular technological and medical integration, you are probably uninitiated into the world of IoT. Simply put, the Internet of things is a concept which talks about every single thing you own to the Internet. This includes washing machines, headphones, lamps, microwaves, and everything that could possibly be connected to the internet. Here’s how it can work wonders in the healthcare sector. Say for example you are an asthma patient and the inhaler is an important part of your life and let’s also say that you keep forgetting to take the inhaler. Now, if your inhaler is connected to the internet, it can remind you to use the inhaler regularly and also help your doctor to keep track of your inhaler usage. This is a small example compared to the long list of benefits the IoT provides. This includes tracking glucose levels of diabetes patients through contact lenses, detecting your hand hygiene, measuring vitals in the emergency rooms and ICUs, among others.
Robotics in the healthcare sector is not a sci-fi joke. It’s real and it’s already happening. Robots perform the role of health workers by assisting in monotonous human jobs that do not require dynamic human skills. There are robots called Tugs in The San Francisco Bay Area who perform tasks like delivering food and picking up laundry. The fact that they can work round the clock reduces the burden on night shift workers. They use maps to travel from one place to another and also have an inbuilt biometric system that ensures safety of the material they are carrying. Another example is a robot called HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) that helps people with disabilities, restricted muscle movement or paralyzed limbs to move around.
These marvellous technology medical hybrids are not just theories. They’re already happening and they’re happening now as you read this. However, this would only be possible if we are able to dedicate an adequate amount of funds to our healthcare research and development and empower our scientists. It will be a long road to achieve these medical marvels, but it would be totally worth it.