As technology has become more integrated with healthcare, consumers and medical professionals alike are adjusting to new ways of doing things. However, will technology transform healthcare in 2015? Emily Ross, director of private healthcare search engine WhatClinic.com, examines some of the trends to watch out for in the coming months.
One of the most anticipated trends for the year revolve around wearable technology. When the Apple Watch was announced last year, cynics argued that limited battery life would restrict the rollout of the device.
However, other smart watches that have been released over the past few months have addressed some of the battery concerns with a few devices lasting up to seven days. Moreover, linking fitness and health apps with wearable technology like smart watches will give medical professionals a treasure trove of useful data to more effectively treat patients.
Also on the treatment side, other advanced technologies are providing practitioners with more effective tools that reduce risk and decrease down time. One of the emerging trends last year was for Nitrogen Plasma facials, a form of rejuvenation that was delicate enough to use on skin around the eye but had the same effect as laser peels.
Technology in healthcare also has a significant impact on regulation. It is especially healthcare in the plastic and medical aesthetic fields that are in much need of international regulation. Some countries have taken a sensible approach whilst others have put a blanket ban on advertising to consumers. This means that people struggle to find common sense information such as consumer reviews and pricing that have been deemed to be promotional material.
Increasing mobile penetration means patients expect round-the-clock access to booking and scheduling services. Dentists, doctors, beauty salons, and physiotherapists are spearheading the way for patients to use online booking systems. This helps to increase the effectiveness of administration staff whilst reducing waiting times for patients.
However, a trend that might take a bit longer to fully materialise is that of online consultations. At the moment it is being support with medical tourism consultations and with treatments such as psychotherapy. Certain clinics are already using Skype or Google Hangouts as the initial consultation with a patient. As with online bookings, this kind of solution is extremely convenient and it cuts down on travel time and other expenses.
Emily Ross, director of private healthcare search engine WhatClinic.com