Monday October 18, 2021

Future of healthcare

The healthcare industry is an important sector that should be invested in continuously. It has grown and helped to create a balance in the population.

Healthcare history can be drawn back to when services were offered in hospitals, clinics, or dispensaries only. Nowadays, there are mobile hospitals, healthcare apps, doctor-patient consultation apps, therapy apps, and drones that transport medicines even to the unreachable areas. Despite this, the healthcare industry is still facing massive disruption. Various innovations have helped provide better healthcare insights.

Let's take the example of AI and Machine Learning interpretations which have helped in the classification of certain diseases, infections and even interpreted how things will turn up in the coming years. Predictive insights are important to the healthcare industry and health insurance practitioners. These insights will help us globally to not be caught off guard with disease outbreaks like the recent Covid-19 pandemic.

The healthcare industry is an important aspect and with people seeking it out more than often, they feel the need to have tools or platforms that help them find value as they search for the best healthcare services. Hence, people would readily opt to order drugs or some healthcare items through online shops that offer great prices, rather than going to search for them in physical shops.

Another amazing trend is the Value-Based Care Model which is tied to paying according to the quality of healthcare you have been given. So healthcare practitioners are rewarded when there is lower spending on patients that provides a better outcome. In the long run, this will help boost the kind of healthcare services provided. This comes with a population health management system. For this, instead of healthcare insurance companies that offer insurance when one is admitted to the hospital or is seeking some help, they offer food support, exercise plans, and health-related education. This will help create a healthier society and prevent people from falling sick easily. People will be more empowered and this will reduce mortality rates.

The healthcare system is gradually and eventually transforming digitally. As of now, most of the hospitals have digitalized patient records which is essential to track someone’s progress. At some point, there will even be a database of the patient’s history. In this system, when a patient visits a hospital, each ailment should be recorded in a certain database according to region, and whenever the same patient visits another hospital, the doctor will be able to understand the patient well by just browsing through their history and inputting the current details for future reference. Even though it may need a powerful system for that to work, it will greatly assist in diagnosing the patients in an effective manner, and will eventually reduce paperwork.

The healthcare industry has evolved and is growing with each passing day. Since there are very few certified doctors and nurses globally, digitalization is the key element for the healthcare sector. This is essential for patients who live far from healthcare facilities. Moreover, in the case of counseling, it is easy to get in touch with the therapist through a video conference, call, or app guidance. Emergency helplines are also essential when one seeks immediate help and also to reduce suicide rates. Consequently, drones are being used in the transportation of medicine.

The introduction of the electronic medical record will bring a great revolution to the healthcare system. Technology will analyze the type of visit and procedure to be undertaken. The software should ultimately allow a patient to choose a billing plan for more flexibility. This will help reduce cases of patients not being able to pay their bills fully, since billing will be directly related to the medical record.

Virtual Reality is making a great impact in the healthcare industry. In the near future, it will even be possible to watch operations being undertaken from a far-off distance. This is important for training future surgeons to practice operations. For example, VR headsets can help women in labor to visualize calmer environments to help them get through labor pain. The VR distraction will be a major player in helping people undergoing surgery from feeling too much pain. This will be a great innovation for pain management.

The global healthcare system is gradually growing and this will help provide better assistance to the sick. Globally, each government is trying its best to ensure that everyone gets access to healthy food that will help reduce people easily getting sick because of bad diets or unhealthy lifestyles. Embracing technologies will play a big role in balancing the human population. This can be seen in Pakistan, which over the years has continually looked for strategies in improving the healthcare system for the vast population.

This is through the regionalization of healthcare services and providing need-based assistance to help solve various problems. Fostering a public-private partnership will help share costs in primary healthcare so that more people can benefit. Appropriate training should be undertaken to ensure there is appropriate gender sensitivity.

Specifically, in Pakistan, telehealth is greatly being embraced to ensure people's needs are met without necessarily seeking medical help in a hospital. The recent Covid 19 pandemic has brought many changes in the healthcare industry. Hence many developments have been made to prevent interactions to reduce the chances of people contracting the viruses. So, if a person is not severely sick, it may be easier to get consultations over a phone or app to ensure they get better soon and to reduce unnecessary interactions if no tests are to be made. However, with digitalization, nowadays people can use self-kits to test for certain infections and viruses.

The evolution of the healthcare sector will greatly help Pakistan. The data collected from telehealth will help health practitioners know what most people are affected with and get the best strategies to curb it. In addition, there will be more relevant information for the public to take care of themselves.

The healthcare system is crucial for the growth of the population. People need to be guided on the best nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation methods to ensure they take care of themselves. Most infections and diseases are caused by people’s lifestyles. So, providing proper guidance will help make a healthier society. However, even with the evolution of healthcare, physical consultation is still important and should outdo automation. We should not not only depend on the use of AI, machine learning, and robotics to help solve our health issues. It depends from case to case, but the right steps at the right time can be key to bring innovation and sustain the digitalized healthcare system.

The writer is CTO & director, Centre of Information Technology at IoBM.

He tweets @imranbatada.


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