Healthcare has always been big business. Though its primary goal is ostensibly helping the public maintain their health, everybody knows that medicine is worth a lot of money to a lot of people. In recent years the world has experienced many revolutions in some key industries; traditional shops are embattled against digital retailers, traditional television has given way to Netflix, and the physical CD album has become something of a relic. The healthcare industry has also undergone some significant change, though not as noticeably as the aforementioned sectors.
There are many apps available specifically tailored towards health and medicine, and it is far easier to contact a doctor in 2018 thanks to digital technology. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the digital tech giants, led by the likes of Apple, Google and Amazon. The healthcare tech industry is projected to be a fast grower; by 2020, in two short years, it’s expected to rise over 13% annually. This has evidently and expectedly caught the attention of the aforementioned companies, who are now looking to healthcare to make the next big splash.
‘Telemedicine’ is the name given to connecting patients remotely with doctors, and it stands as one of the major benefits of conjoining tech and healthcare. The model isn’t exactly new; telemedicine was invented in the 1960’s and used to connect patients who lived far away from a hospital with their doctors. Back then, it was only utilized via a telephone, hence the name. In 2018 however, there are many ways to connect patients (or even potential patients) with their doctors, not just via a phone. Through video messaging applications like Skype or FaceTime, all a patient needs is a digital device with an internet connection and they can dial up their doctors any time they like, from the comfort of their own home.
This isn’t just the case for clinical visits; every facet of the healthcare system can now be connected remotely, meaning that patients with a referral can seek out the specialist they want, not just the one who happens to be nearest to them. This is a particularly important point when it comes to serious diseases, as people often like to feel they have control over their immediate medical futures. Technology can give them that much sought-after control. Not only that, but patients can connect with anyone related to the medical industry via digital technology; it could be an injury attorney in Houston or a homeopathic specialist in Toronto. Whatever care or professional they want, patients are no longer limited by time or distance. This is all thanks to the tech industry.
The question remains, is the healthcare industry ready to meet and accept the challenge head on? The industry is too nuanced for technology to totally overtake traditional medicine, so it will need to be a joining of two worlds in order to fully succeed. We are already seeing it can work in isolation; with the right people leading the way, and the unifying and imaginative power of the current tech giants, healthcare could very well prove to the the next big tech revolution.