Quick advances in technology have changed our lives massively. We carry phones - and sometimes even wearables - with us everywhere, and we’re always connected. Who even remembers the days we would say AFK (away from keyboard) in an era of constant typing?
Although some may have criticism of this new collective state of mind, it’s hard to deny that on balance, it’s improved our lives.
But our lives aren’t the only thing that can be improved by technology: medicine and healthcare have been using tech more and more to save money and energy, increase efficiency, and make sure that 21st century medicine is well-suited to our everyday modern lifestyles.
1. All about data
Carrying our phones and wearables with us everywhere also means we constantly have machines that can track, collect and analyse data. Most of us have this data collected automatically, so all the medical industry needs to do is just use it.
The latest government Green Paper, “Prevention in the 2020’s”, shows that the government are already thinking about how to connect personal data into medical records, to help GP personalise treatment and get notified about relevant risks.
This also means that instead of relying on the knowledge available to GPs, healthcare systems can now collect data from an almost unlimited pool, which can create analyses on a level that has never been seen before. In turn, this can help doctors identify conditions faster, and even make sure treatments are tailored for patients.
2. Virtual reality
Most of us know VR in the context of gaming, so it might surprise you to hear that it’s been a highly sought after technology in medical sciences. VR has been used to treat patients as well as train doctors, and that’s just in the early stages of VR development!
For example, VR headsets have been successfully used as phobia treatment, specifically for arachnophobia (fear of spiders) and fear of heights. They’ve also been used to rehabilitate patients, with good results in improving balance and gait. Doctors in the UK can now practise emergency care through VR, as well as operating.
3. Healthy apps
Due to the ubiquity of mobile phones, apps that enhance people’s health and promote healthier lifestyles are helping people better their lives, and doctors are recommending some to their patients.
The NHS, for example, has its Couch to 5k app, that supports beginners to start running, regardless of level of activity. Other apps encourage people to record their emotions and use journaling methods to alleviate mental health symptoms, and in some cases, they actually offer help in-app.
The rise of workout and meditation apps, such as Calm, is another notable development in this field. Instead of spending money on a gym subscription, many choose to subscribe to a workout app that suits them and built their workouts based on their preferences.
4. Tracking, monitoring and treating
Advanced technology can also help with patient monitoring and treatment. Hospital beds can be Bluetooth-activated, allowing family to track where their relatives are and when they’re out of surgery, saving time and money for the NHS. Doctors can also access medical information such as X-rays through these beds!
But it isn’t just hospitals that can use this technology. For instance, patients can now have chips implanted in them to monitor glucose levels through an app, as well as devices that can actually treat unusual glucose levels.
5. Easy prescriptions and appointments
We’re all so busy, with work-life imbalance making it more difficult to squeeze everything you need to do into 24 hours a day. Technology has been helping with that too!
Some apps, such as Echo, Now Patient and Well Pharmacy, are now offering delivery services for repeat prescriptions. Instead of going to the doctor or to a pharmacy, patients can order their prescription through the app and receive it to their front door in a few days’ time.
But it’s not only prescriptions that are made simpler by apps. More and more people choose to use online services for their GP and mental health appointments, including long-term therapy through Skype!
These video appointments are a huge relief for working people, who sometimes can’t take a morning off to go to the doctor’s or don’t have time to fit therapy into their long days. With the service, they can get everything done 24/7, including getting their diagnosis and prescription, as well as a referral to a specialist if necessary. In fact, studies have found that patients who used virtual check ups spent a third less time in hospital on average, and that deaths from septic shock fell by 60%.
yulife is a leading disruptor in the field of lifestyle medicine, with an app that promotes wellbeing by rewarding members for walking and meditating. The app comes as part of our group life insurance products, which also come with digital Doctor on Demand and our employee assistance programme (EAP) that gives our members free digital counselling and so much more!
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