What can we expect from the hospital of the future?
Over the next 30 years, innovations such as telemedicine and virtual reality will dramatically improve patient healthcare.
Imagine a surgeon standing in front of a telecommunications console in New York while his patient is lying on an 3,870 operating table at a hospital in Strasbourg, France. From the console, the doctor remotely directs the movement of a three-piece surgical robot called Zeus to remove the diseased gallbladder of an 68-year-old patient. The surgery takes less than an hour, and the patient recovers as expected, returning home 2 days later.
Sounds like science fiction? But it is not!
The transatlantic procedure actually took place in 2001. Known as Operation Lindbergh, named after the American aviator Charles Lindbergh, the event was the first complete and successful telesurgery procedure in the world. It lays the groundwork for the role that this technology could play in breaking the boundaries of traditional healthcare and building the medicine of the future.
All the achievements in the field of innovation and healthcare today - advances in surgical robotics, virtual reality (VR) and diagnostic tools - are just the beginning of the hospital in 2050. The halls will look like a movie scene, artificial intelligence will takes the place of practitioners. Realistically, however, changes in the healthcare sector are much slower, according to innovation experts in the field, although this could change in the long run.
The virtual doctor / telemedicine is one of the rapidly gaining innovations that many healthcare providers believe will be an important factor in the future of patient care. Based on Operation Lindbergh, the basic idea is for doctors to be able to provide virtual care to patients - anytime, anywhere.
Telemedicine can be a tool for virtual care delivery in underserved areas and places where there are few specialists. It can also be used to monitor patients with chronic illnesses and even save lives. For example, the chances of recovery for stroke patients depend heavily on rapid diagnosis and treatment. Ambulances equipped with CT scanners and telemedicine devices can allow neurosurgeons to assess the risk of stroke and recommend a course of treatment on the way to the hospital, thereby reducing the risk of permanent injury to the patient.
"Telemedicine introduces technology between doctor and patient that can facilitate the seamless use of sensors and computational algorithms that provide a more comprehensive and reliable method of diagnosing and treating patients," explains Yulun Wang, chairman, chief innovation officer and founder of From InTouch Health. His company has built robots that allow specialists to examine patients remotely - it currently serves about 1500 hospitals around the world. Wang says telemedicine services can help cut costs - the United States spent approximately $ 3 billion on health care in 2014 and 2015, as well as improve outcomes and become the main methodology for providing health care in the future . He added that he expects one day telemedicine to be as affordable as online banking.
If it works together with other emerging technologies, telemedicine can achieve more. "Artificial intelligence, as well as machine learning technologies, will be integrated with the delivery of health services through telemedicine so that data can be collected and analyzed to improve global care as well as the health of the population," Wang said. "It will also improve individual care by combining the specific features of the patient's diagnosis and treatment through millions of comparable cases."
Lorna Ross of the Mayo Clinic Innovation Center says decisions for more affordable, efficient and affordable patient experiences should not only rely on smart devices, but also on human-centered projects. That's why her team works closely with practitioners and patients to look for opportunities and test solutions that drive innovation. Her team investigated how test kits can improve patient-physician interaction, improve the way staff members educate and prepare dialysis patients for care, and explore additions to offered care such as home monitoring and webcam examinations.
Technology is advancing and the healthcare sector is moving towards more outpatient procedures, telemedicine and self-monitoring. In 2050, patients are expected to go to hospitals only for complex operations and emergencies. There is also evidence that technology such as virtual reality will be more widespread in medicine.
By 2020, it is expected that interest in expanding technologies for medical training, practice, psychiatry, rehabilitation and other applications will increase. For example, some neurosurgeons already use VR to examine a patient's brain before surgery so that they can make the procedure safer and more effective.