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With the inception of digital health, people anticipate a complete shift in how technologies make information accessible to healthcare professionals and patients, empowering patients to make decisions in consultation with doctors. The doctor-patient relationship has transitioned into an equitable partnership enabling the patient to make better decisions about their health with the doctor’s guidance on the choice of therapies. The medical landscape is wide-ranging, with technological changes affecting various medical specialties differently. Patient-centric approach, familiarizing yourself with advanced technologies, focusing on soft skills, networking, and curiosity are some essential skills in the digital era.
- Significant trends in healthcare:
- Change in medical specialties due to the technological revolution:
- Essential skills required in the digital health era:
- Key Takeaways:
Medical students are perplexed about choosing their career pathways in medicine with technological advancements. They question themselves on their decisions and whether they should switch to a different discipline. It would be best for students with an MBChB degree to be aware of their physical and intellectual capabilities. In this article, let us discuss emerging trends that help you make the right choice.
Significant trends in healthcare:
Disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence, wearable sensors, virtual reality, medical robots, social media, etc., are expected to change how doctors and patients think and act about healthcare in the near future. With the inception of digital health, people anticipate a complete shift in how technologies make information accessible to healthcare professionals and patients, empowering patients to make decisions in consultation with doctors.
1) Access to medical data and enhanced medical care:
Digital technologies, social media, wearables, and trackers equip more stakeholders with medical information, making healthcare professionals equal partners with their patients, which enables improved access to medical data and healthcare.
2) Changing doctor-patient relationship:
Since patients gain more knowledge about their health with access to medical data and information via online sources, patient communities on social media, wearables and health sensors have helped them raise more questions. The doctor-patient relationship has transitioned into an equitable partnership enabling the patient to make better decisions about their health with the doctor’s guidance on the choice of therapies.
3) Physicians team up with technology:
Technology has aided doctors for centuries as additional tools with little impact. But after the 18th-century industrial revolution, they augmented the gravity with which they healed. It’s fascinating how the digital stethoscope evolved through its analog variant. With rapid technological developments, pursuing a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from Texila American University, Zambia, enables you to perform better and provide efficient patient care.
4) The increasing value of empathy, creativity, and problem-solving:
The numerous medical queries of the patient handled by medical professionals earlier are provided by technology leading to less frequent personal patient-doctor communication, which is more valuable, increasing the critical need for human contact and empathy. Creativity and problem-solving skills to be nurtured for future generation doctors as AI, virtual reality, or health trackers will not be able to solve complex health issues.
TAU is one among the leading medical schools in Zambia. Students who are eager to pursue a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery can join to experience a fulfilling career with exposure to the latest trends and practices with the best clinical rotations.
Change in medical specialties due to the technological revolution:
The medical landscape is wide-ranging, with technological changes affecting various medical specialties differently. Changes are anticipated in areas where the fastest growing fields of Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI), like natural language processing and computer vision, find applications. Fields with repetitive and computerized tasks like administrative functions and medicine prescriptions could expect transitions.
Medical specialties that rely heavily on medical imaging and laboratories like radiology, pathology, and non-diagnostic fields like nephrology, rheumatology, hematology, and dermatology will significantly influence the digital health revolution.
Artificial Intelligence is expected to revolutionize radiology. The first cloud-based deep learning algorithm for cardiac imaging developed by Arterys received its FDA approval in 2017 and will be ready for clinical pilot testing in 3 years. They will augment radiologists’ jobs by releasing them from performing monotonous and repetitive tasks. Students interested in a career pathway in radiology can pursue this specialty after an MBChB degree.
Primary care technology minimizes the need for chronic patients to travel to their physician for a routine check-up and avoid overcrowded waiting rooms. Wearable sensors and devices stream patient data and warn doctors of any irregularities in vital indicators, providing them with all the necessary data for delivering efficient care. AI-integrated chatbots and smartphone-based digital assistants can help diagnose minor conditions and offer remote treatment guidance. They are anticipated to become the patient’s first line of primary care, necessitating patients to meet the doctor only when they fail to provide adequate support due to health complexities.
Oncologists customize treatments based on patient’s genetic backgrounds and the molecular makeup of tumors. The process can be accelerated with cheaper genome sequencing and measuring blood biomarkers.
Intelligent algorithms for quicker personalized cancer/patient treatments, artificial intelligence-based predictive algorithms to help epidemiologists tackle disease outbreaks, gene therapies, and digital contact lenses for more efficient eye care, virtual reality, exoskeletons or exercising machines to shorten rehabilitation time or alleviate pain are some of the advancements expected in the near future.
Psychiatry, Emergency Medicine, and Nursing:
Specialties that need the human touch, like empathy and caring attention, high levels of creativity, problem-solving and quick decision-making, will override technological solutions, and therapists are irreplaceable in psychiatry and psychology. FDA-approved Digital therapeutics (DTx) solutions are already in the market that provides prescription-only solutions increasing the efficiency of therapies fighting addictions or depression.
Conversations about the psyche are complex with insightful non-verbal communication, which machines will not be able to understand. Algorithms or robots cannot react to patient responses properly and need someone who can pay attention and empathize humanly. Similarly, nurses cannot be replaced, but technology can assist them with physical, repetitive, or non-essential tasks.
Portable diagnostic devices or medical drones can significantly reduce the time until a patient receives a proper diagnosis or specific treatment, but the ambulance crew is indispensable on the spot. The ambulance crew makes decisions concerning the patient’s state and provides initial diagnosis and necessary care, which guarantees the individual’s arrival in the hospital. AI and machine learning algorithms can assist in detecting pulmonary embolisms or detecting intracranial hemorrhages using collected data.
Students who are interested in a career pathway in Emergency Medicine or Psychiatry can choose to pursue this specialty after an MBChB degree from TAU, Zambia.
Essential skills required in the digital health era:
The technological revolution has impacted each medical specialty at varying levels, with the necessary expertise also varying depending on the specialty. Let’s look at some general skills determined based on the requirements of technologically boosted healthcare. Innovation can bring in new tools, but the medical field has a solid foundation regardless of the digital transition.
1) Patient-centric design:
Medical students and doctors should realize and embrace that patients are at the center of their universe, which is the basis for modern and digital healthcare, whether developing a new drug, designing a new therapy, shaping the blueprint of the hospital building, and a lot more.
2) Familiarize yourself with advanced technologies and start with a tracker:
Credibility is a crucial factor because, as a doctor, you cannot tell your patient to live a healthier life if you smoke like a chimney or sit like a couch potato in front of the TV with snacks every night. Medical students, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals should familiarize themselves with health apps, fitness trackers, and wearables to be able to recommend those to patients. This minimizes your aversion to technologies and enables you to understand your patient’s concerns making them realize that the recommendations are not just the results of medical companies’ successful sales tactics.
3) Be comfortable in the digital jungle
Digital literacy is essential for medical students, professors, and physicians. You should be knowledgeable about searching, finding, and accessing information, assessing the quality of medical websites, and knowing how to work with empowered patients. The digital environment is constantly changing, and you should be tech-savvy and be updated on the emerging trends and developments of the online space.
4) Focus on soft skills like empathy, creativity, and paying attention:
It is essential and a valuable asset for medical professionals to pay attention and be compassionate with their patients. BLS statistics show a 3% increase in demand for doctors and surgeons by 2030 and a 9% increase in demand for nurses.
5) Get used to networking:
Social media is a powerful tool for solving medical mysteries and in the study of rare diseases. The National Institute of Health recognizes 7,000 rare illnesses affecting fewer than 200,000 people each year. It’s impossible for a general practitioner to remember every detail. Medical professionals use CrowdMed and other social media platforms to interact with their counterparts about health complexities and healthcare solutions.
6) Be curious and inquisitive:
Be curious and ask questions about the traditional methods and seemingly natural processes in practice for a long time; critical thinking will enable you to be innovative and creative in finding solutions. You should be able to judge results, procedures, or claims from various angles and contexts, which is essential. In the era of AI, medical professionals will need help keeping up with intelligent algorithms and questioning their decisions or treatment recommendations. It would be best for medical students and professionals to use cognitive games to maintain sound mental fitness.
Technological transitions will not replace doctors in the future but will enable them to focus on treating patients, innovating, and what makes them unique, while automation handles the repetitive work quickly. Digital transformation has impacted each medical specialty at varying levels, helping them thrive with these innovations. A Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from TAU, Zambia, will enable you to stay abreast of the latest trends and practices.