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Technological advancement in the medical field

By Mamta Purbey

Today, technology has not only intersected but also revolutionised every industry, bringing about substantial improvements. Key sectors such as Banking and Finance, Retail, Education, Entertainment, and more have undergone remarkable transformations right before our eyes. Among these, the healthcare and medical sector has also experienced a profound shift. From the convenience of ordering medications online to the efficiency of automated patient post-care, the innovation of tele-radiology to the organisation of Electronic Health Records (EHRs), the precision of AI-driven robotic surgeries, and the accessibility of online consultations, it is difficult to find any facet of healthcare that has not benefited significantly from technological advancements.

For instance, post-operative care delivered through telemedicine and mobile apps has emerged as one of the greatest boons for patients. In the past, the standard protocol often necessitated patients to remain in the hospital, typically in the ICU or a hospital room, incurring substantial expenses, particularly if their insurance coverage was not comprehensive. However, in the contemporary landscape, a significant portion of post-operative care can now be administered in the comfort of the patient’s own home through telemedicine. This represents a straightforward yet compelling instance where patients reap direct benefits from the advancements in technology.

Another area where technology disrupted the sector is through online consultations. According to various reports, there has been a remarkable tenfold surge in online consultations between 2020 and 2023. This surge not only attests to the significant influence of technology on doctor-patient interactions but also reflects the widespread acceptance of this novel approach to consulting. Certain specialised fields such as psychiatry, gynaecology, paediatrics, among others, have shown remarkable and rapid adoption of tele-consultations as a part of their practice.

When discussing the influence of technology and digitisation in healthcare, it’s crucial to address Electronic Health Records (EHRs), a domain that primarily falls within the scope of the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing. EHRs serve a fundamental purpose: providing healthcare providers and institutions with precise, up-to-date insights into a patient’s health parameters. This invaluable resource significantly enhances the quality of treatment and diagnostics, particularly in emergency situations, even in remote locations.

In a geographically diverse nation like India, the implementation of centralised, language-adaptable EHR systems holds immense promise for the medical community. Both patients and healthcare professionals have already witnessed the advantages of such systems. However, there remains a substantial journey ahead to ensure that every citizen has access to the right EHR solution tailored to their needs.

Beyond transforming healthcare delivery, technology is also revolutionizing medical education. There have been tremendous advancements in simulations that give the most realistic patient handling experience to medical students during their classroom and lab sessions even before they start their clinical exposure. And with growing regulations, these simulations form a critical part of their learning experience.

We have witnessed remarkable instances of technological integration in healthcare, including robotic surgeries, AI-based drug prescriptions, and data analytical tools capable of predicting health risks for both individuals and communities. These advancements collectively underscore the medical community’s and relevant stakeholders’ open embrace of technology, as they continually adapt to harness its benefits effectively.

Nevertheless, certain organisations and experts have issued cautionary notes regarding the undeniable challenges accompanying technological advancements in healthcare. These encompass concerns such as data security, the need for comprehensive and impactful training for staff and doctors at various levels, the cost associated with technology installation and maintenance, especially in rural areas, as well as the potential for an inequitable distribution of technology across different strata of healthcare institutions, which could lead to sustainability issues.

Despite these obstacles, technology has unquestionably disrupted the healthcare sector. Taking a balanced and optimistic approach, coupled with a far-reaching vision, can prove to be an invaluable asset for the medical community as they navigate the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare technology.

The author is associate vice president, Student Acquisition – International, American University of Antigua. Views expressed are personal.

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