Heart disease, stroke, cancer, and obesity are among the most deadly healthcare concerns affecting the world today.
While politicians try to solve the problem of affordable healthcare, computing experts are working on developing technology that looks to revolutionize and streamline healthcare services.
Known as digital healthcare, these innovations work on a two-prong approach. Firstly, they aim to boost the diagnosis and cure of chronic and short-term illnesses and secondly, by encouraging good health and catching problems early which could in turn lead to the exorbitant cost of healthcare dropping significantly.
The goal is to make healthcare more proactive than reactive. Here are five things you should know about the digital healthcare revolution.
Digital Tools Will Offer a Healthier Lifestyle
People can adopt a healthier lifestyle by eating better, exercising, avoiding cigarettes, and limiting alcohol. However, getting started might not be easy as it seems, especially if one lacks motivation and self-control. Healthcare technology can address this by providing the information, motivation, and encouragement to do that, enabling people to maximize their quality of life.
The majority of health apps available are for fitness and weight loss. However, with the advances made in healthcare technology, there are now apps designed to track your emotions, symptoms, and sleep patterns. Others are able to maintain your prescriptions, health records or sharpen your cognitive skills via puzzles and games.
Smartphone Apps Can Enable Better Digital Health
Chances are that you have at least one health or fitness app on your mobile phone. The popularity of these apps cannot be underestimated as people use them to monitor their calorie/nutrient intake and track their physical activity. On a broader scale, the creators of these apps see them as an invaluable opportunity to integrate health monitoring and disease prevention into a holistic health navigation system.
Besides promoting good health, these can better assess chronic conditions like diabetes and epilepsy. These digital tools will allow patients and doctors to continuously monitor vital signs like blood pressure, making treatment more accurate and timely. These can also be timely in case of emergencies as the apps can be set up to send an alert should the patient experience a sudden change in their condition such as sudden spikes in blood sugar levels.
Mobile Devices, Wearables To Transform Healthcare
Advanced technologies such as health informatics, wearables, mobile/ubiquitous computing, artificial intelligence feature prominently in digital health as they work to achieve radical improvements in measuring health, diagnosing disease, monitoring and managing long-term conditions and, ultimately, transforming the care-delivery system itself.
One key instance where Telehealth is evident is through virtual doctor visits which can be offered remotely using sensors and monitoring services. Also, mobile health (mhealth) apps and wearable health devices can help users maintain their general well-being through simple acts of tracking steps taken or sleep patterns. The information gleaned from these apps can also enable researchers to study large-scale health data by which they can monitor population health statistics or contain disease outbreaks.
AI Will Give You Better Health But Integration Remains a Challenge
Without a doubt, health analytics tools backed by artificial intelligence are ideal for massive data sets like medical images and pathology test samples. They are also able to provide a more accurate diagnosis and understanding of individual health or that of large populations.
Additionally, digital health standards have been utilized to create a single-identity electronic health record system, even though such integration will take time and effort.
One challenge that mHealth and wearables have to grapple with is that of inter-operability. As each product or service is generally contained within its own silo, limiting compatibility or connection to broader networks, there is limited or no integration and the user usually requires a separate app or device for each product. Although digital health developers have a long way to go in building greater integration, the technology itself is flourishing.
Expect Unprecedented Innovations in Digital Healthcare
Although some innovations are new to the game, digital healthcare promises some truly inspiring and promising advances.
For instance, 3D-printed teeth and prosthetics are already commonly used in the health industry to assist patients. Currently manufacturers are looking to utilise 3D-printing for pharma products where medicines can be uniquely tailored to a specific patient’s needs.
Digital healthcare has no shortage of developers and researchers creating groundbreaking technology that looks set to change healthcare in a big way. If these innovations can be fully realized and integrated, there are immense possibilities for the current healthcare problems that can be minimized or eradicated altogether.