With technological advancements like gene manipulation, artificial intelligence and stem cell in the medical industry, healthcare is no longer just about cure and care. New stakeholders are now actively participating in the bid to create, provide and sustain the best of medical technology in the most economical prices.
As the global medical tourism market is expected to garner $143.8 billion by 2022, clinical research dedicated to the industry is creating miracles everyday to increase the prospects of treatment. Some of the latest scientific trends are thought to have a great impact in the industry in the years to come :
1) Artificial Intelligence (AI)
IBM AI technology Watson Health has already been out there – helping doctors and nurses make intelligent decisions about diagnosis and treatment of patients. However, this AI technology in healthcare is expected to be further strengthened by a boom in the field of AI, especially in case of non-critical conditions.
There will be a day when patients with non-critical conditions will have to no longer visit a doctor or a hospital for treatment. They will simply be required to share a picture of their illness or a record of their symptoms virtually, and would be able to have a virtual consultation or a chat with a nurse who can guide them further.
Although the rate has been slow, an increasing number of people are now open to TeleHealth, that is, the practice of sharing all the useful information over a mobile health application. It also includes engaging in a virtual chat or a video conference with a physician, thus eliminating the need of visiting a doctor at his or her clinic or a hospital.
The process of collaborating technology with healthcare started vigorously a few years back with a sudden boom in mobile health applications. The process is expected to reach near completion by the end of this year, resulting in enhanced public health, support healthcare services and increase in patient awareness and education.
On the other hand, healthcare organizations are also expected to make a shift toward online scheduling, for letting patients book their appointment with the doctor available or a physician of their choice virtually. This is because of an increased demand from the consumers.
3) Medical Facilitators
There has been a sudden boom in the number of medical facilitators that have emerged in the medical travel industry in the recent years. These medical facilitators are a blessing for medical tourists, who are unsure about traveling to other countries for medical treatment despite the fact that the treatment is not available in their own country or priced unfairly.
Popular medical facilitators act as an interface between the patient and the doctor or a hospital directly. They book appointments, provide an estimate of the treatment, serve quotes from different hospitals and give you an option to compare and evaluate different options before making a treatment decision. Moreover, they also make your boarding and accommodation arrangements, while offering round the clock customer care services.
The medical travel industry is further expected to grow in 2017, with lots of players entering the field to make the process of seeking medical treatment abroad easy and smooth.
4) Software Platforms and Wearable
The launch of several other software platforms than the ones that already exist is expected to revolutionize the way how the field of healthcare would function in the coming years. The software platforms, mostly available in the form of mobile health apps and desktop health apps, can take away a majority of roles and responsibilities of a doctor.
For example, consumers can now track their calorie intake using health apps and see if they are obese or at a risk of obesity and related health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiac disorders. They can even chart their readings and see if the medications are effective or not. There are other apps as well – such as HealthKit, CareKit and ResearchKit launched by Apple – that aim to focus on clinical trials data and patient care.
In addition, millions of wearables such as Apple watch and FitBit are expected to be sold this year, thus, allowing patients to carefully monitor their health and plan the next steps accordingly.
5) Transparent Healthcare Cost Tools
The cost of medical treatment has always been a concern among patients, especially those who are yet to undergo a major surgery or a diagnostic procedure. Healthcare consumers are now more informed than before and tend to compare the cost of treatment or a diagnostic procedure before undergoing it at a facility.
Catering to the demand of the consumers, different transparent healthcare cost tools are expected to launch soon that allow patients to compare the cost of treatment and select the one that suits them the best. For example, the cost of MRI or a CT scan may vary from one centre to another. Saving even 20 percent of their money means a lot to the patients.
6) More of 3D Bioprinting and Skin Regeneration
Who would have thought that there would be a day when it would be actually possible to regenerate human tissues and organs with the help of one’s own cells? This is now a real possibility, all thanks to the advances made in the stem cell technology.
Even though the technology is in experimental stage, some part of it is expected to be approved for use in medical treatment soon. One such application is the use of stem cells to regenerate a layer of skin in severely burned patients.
Stem cell technology, when combined with AI and 3D bioprinting can help create the actural replicas of different organs. Once in use, these technologies are expected to provide inexpensive and personalized care to all patients.
(The following article was published in https://www.tourmyindia.com/medical-tourism/blog/latest-trends-in-healthcare/)