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What does the future of healthcare look like?

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Though it might not always feel like it, there are plenty of reasons why you should feel optimistic about the future. People are better educated, there are fewer people living in poverty, and, despite what you might see on the television and in the newspapers, society is generally more tolerant and open than in the past. Healthcare, too, has reached new levels in recent times, and is much better — and more accessible — than what it used to be in the past. In the coming decade, we’re going to see the world of healthcare shift even further, partly in response to changing demands, partly due to technological and other advancements. Below, we take a look at a number of ways that healthcare will change in the not too distant future.

A Changing Demographic

The world is about to change in a way that has never been seen before. Soon, there are going to more elderly people than there are young people. The baby boomers had a lot of children, and younger people, due to lack of jobs and reduced wages, are having fewer kids. Hence, a big shift. This will put a strain on healthcare services, but also opens up a lot of opportunities. Aside from merely offering cures and treatments to obvious health issues, hospitals will increasingly provide care treatment. This will be a less obvious form of healthcare, and will instead be more general lifestyle care.

Better Data

There’s a whole bunch of data in the world. Indeed, there always was — it’s just that in the past, it was all written down, and linking more than two pieces of information together could result in a headache. Now that everything’s digital, we can expect to see new initiatives introduced that make handling these large amounts of data easier. Instead of one health professional having one piece of information about your health, and a different health professional having another, the two will be able to share that information. That’ll allow each to have a more in-depth, overall view of your health. The more you know, the better the treatment will be.

More Specific Care

No two bodies are the same, and when it comes to certain medical aspects, it just doesn’t become feasible to have a blanket approach that’ll encompass everyone who walks through the door. That can be true of physical issues, but it becomes even more problematic when it comes to things like mental health issues. Historically, certain demographics, such as the Latino community, have been pushed to the fringes when it comes to accessing mental health care. This is beginning to change, however, thanks to the work of people like Cynthia Telles. In the future, we’ll see illnesses — both mental and physical — treated with greater specificity to that person’s background, genetic makeup, and so on.

Individual Control

In the olden days, you’d visit the doctor, they’d tell you whatever they thought, and that was it. There wasn’t much by way of conversation or anything like that. What the doctor says, goes! That’s beginning to change now. Because there’s more available information (for doctors and patients), and there’s rarely just one course of treatment available, patients are increasingly being given the option about what type of treatment they’d like. It’s also becoming increasingly popular for patients to receive treatment in their own homes, if they don’t want to stay in the hospital. All in all, the shift is about improving the user experience — even things like the food in hospitals have been improved beyond measure in recent years. This is due to various reasons, including greater competition between hospitals, and an understanding that people get better when they’re in comfortable surroundings.  

AI Integration

People think that the AI revolution is on the horizon, but it’s already with us, albeit in limited ways. In healthcare, AI will transform the diagnosis process, because it’ll be able to figure out the most logical problem based on the information that it’s given. Furthermore, AI won’t just be used to figure out the diagnosis as and when symptoms appear. It’ll be able to predict health problems in advance, which means people will be able to modify their behavior in order to prevent a potential illness from materializing. As well as AI, we’ll robots performing routine surgical processes, which will help to reduce the number of hospital mistakes — humans may try their best, but they’re much more prone to committing errors than they realize. A robot won’t make those same mistakes. The final tech part of the healthcare revolution will involve gene editing, which will allow doctors to edit a person’s genetic makeup in order to prevent an illness from developing.

Better Training

But of course, for the most part, healthcare will remain in the hands of human professionals. Now and in the future, people during their training will be able to learn in a safer, better environment. This will be especially possible thanks to VR, which will allow students to practice the skills they need, but without the need for a patient.

Preventative Measures

We’re all carrying around with us pretty powerful machines. And our smartphones can be used for more than just scrolling through our social media channels! They’re also leading us towards a healthier life. They can tell us how many steps we’ve walked, what our heart rate is, how we’re sleeping, when we need to drink water, and so on. While these aspects can be a bit distracting (who needs to know their heart rate at all hours of the day?), the broader implications are important — the technology is putting people back in control of their health.

Conclusion

There are aspects of the future — like climate change, rising inequality, and so on –that we need to work on improving, but it’s important that we don’t get too focused on the doom and gloom narrative about the future. With scientists and health professionals around the world doing excellent work, the future of healthcare looks bright — and that’s good news for everyone.

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