GUEST POST: How technology will change healthcare

Our latest guest post has been written by Matthew Blake, a technology enthusiast who has worked in the technology industry for the past six years. 

The healthcare industry is worth billions of pounds and is constantly changing and adapting. Having to keep up with the growing and aging population in the UK means that quicker more efficient processes and diagnosis are vital. Medical technology is one of the key elements improving healthcare and patients’ well-being. So what technologies are doing well and what changes can we expect for the future of healthcare?

Mobile technology

Mobile technology is constantly being reviewed and tested within the healthcare sector. Some mobile applications have been instrumental in speeding up the diagnosis of patients. People that suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes may soon have access to personal health monitoring systems thanks to a sensor and a mobile phone application. The app is currently being trialled and in future could save the NHS vast amounts of money in addition to giving patients a cheap way to monitor their blood sugar levels.

Video calling

With the increase in patients missing their GP appointments, video calling may be a solution for the future. The NHS are working out ways to save £20bn in order to fill their funding gap, and patients Skype-calling GPs from the comfort of their own home could hopefully save the NHS a significant sum of money. Certainly, video calling consultations will be more effective when examining patients compared to a phone call consultation; however some doctors feel that it cannot replace face to face consultation. Doctors would have to use their best judgement as to when a video consultation is appropriate in order to give a comprehensive examination.

3D Printing

In the future it may be possible to 3D print human organs due to the research and studies conducted at present. Recently, a group of researchers have successfully managed to print a human sized ear using tissue from a sheep. This new development in tissue engineering could eventually lead to 3D printed strips of tissue that is advanced enough to test new drugs. This could dramatically improve healthcare and open new doors for pharmaceutical trials.

4G network

The demand for faster internet speed has become much more apparent due to more and more of us working online using a mobile device.  The new fourth generation mobile communications network is set to boost mobile internet speeds to 24-30Mbps. This new technology is already being trialled to benefit the healthcare industry in countries like Germany. They are using a 4G-enabled ambulance to improve survival rates of stroke victims. This could potentially be implemented across the UK, depending on the costs, as 98% of the UK will have 4G by 2017.

The new technologies in use and in development will make huge strides in healthcare in the years to come. Studies and research are already showing the enormous benefits and potential that these technologies can have on patient health and well-being.  There is an important point to remember though, with all technology there are limitations and issues. It is essential to identify the possible problems early on in order to receive the most gain from technology within healthcare.

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