The field of medicine has changed dramatically over the past several decades. Instead of slowing down, though, changes appear to be happening more rapidly as technology progresses. While it is hard to predict precisely where healthcare trends will lead, some seem poised to make a huge difference in access to and quality of care. No matter what your interest in medicine is, these five emerging healthcare trends are worth watching.
1. Electronic Health Records
Paper charts are becoming a thing of the past as more and more medical facilities transition to electronic health records. Additionally, the move to EHRs makes room for a whole new set of career options as professionals are needed to input and analyze data and maintain network security. An EHR can drastically improve the care a patient receives. They integrate information from multiple providers into a central location, so each doctor can access notes and test results regardless of where they originated. They also provide access to complete histories, so patients aren’t constantly rehashing information and possibly leaving out an important detail.
2. Mobile Healthcare
Mobile healthcare uses, as its name implies, mobile technology to monitor patients. Apps gather health data on phones, smartwatches, or any other devices capable of collecting it. Some of the useful information collected includes heart rate, blood pressure, sleep patterns, and physical activity levels. This can be shared directly to patient portals and accessed by healthcare providers.
When you think of jobs where robots might be able to replace people, medicine is not usually the first one to come to mind. However, doctors are increasingly using remote devices and robots to assist with procedures. There are even some cases where roles are reversed, and robots perform complicated surgeries with assistance from doctors. Instead of taking the place of doctors, however, robotic devices expand the capabilities of what medical professionals can do.
Telehealth appointments allow increased access to medical professionals like doctors and nurses. This is particularly helpful for patients who are in remote areas or who are unable to take time away from their obligations to attend an in-office appointment. Where technology allows, telehealth visits can be conducted over chat or video platforms. For patients without access to the internet, phone consultations may be used to address basic concerns or for routine preventative care. Read more about how social justice issues can impact access to healthcare to see how this can truly transform lives.
5. Concierge Care
Concierge healthcare refers to practices that accept a limited number of patients in exchange for a membership fee. That fee generally grants patients access to a doctor or nurse regardless of the day or time, as well as a more personalized care experience. Proponents argue that it increases outcomes. However, concierge medicine does have detractors who argue it increases economic healthcare disparities. There is no denying the considerable difference between being a concierge provider and a public health career, so it’s best to decide where your interests are if you are considering this type of work.
Healthcare is a field that is continuously in flux. New developments in technology and care processes can not only improve the quality of care, but they can also help break down barriers many people face to accessing it. A few areas to watch include mobile apps, telehealth visits, and the use of robotics to provide care.