Digital Health Is A Cultural Transformation Of Traditional Healthcare Through Disruptive Technologies
Advanced medical technologies, disruptive innovations hand-in-hand with people willing to change will transform traditional healthcare into a modern healthcare system fit for the 21st century, says the first peer-reviewed paper covering the subject published by The Medical Futurist Institute. The thought-provoking article lays down the foundation for digital health with its accurate definition and frames the paradigm shift happening in healthcare.
With the rise of digital technologies, such as artificial narrow intelligence, robotics, virtual reality/augmented reality, telemedicine, 3D-printing, portable diagnostics, health sensors, wearables, etc. the entire structure of healthcare, as well as the roles of patients and doctors, will fundamentally shift from the current status quo.
Digital Health Raises Challenging Questions
The transformation of traditional healthcare leads to some serious ethical considerations and challenges policy-makers in unprecedented ways. Who should have access to health data? Is it lawful if employers or insurers want to gather data from their employees’ direct-to-consumer genetic testing results? What if someone hacks medical devices? How will we deal with medical robots? Whose responsibility will it be if it makes a mistake during surgery? What about gene editing and the possibility of designer babies? Should someone have the chance to pre-plan a human embryo?
Policy-makers, medical professionals and basically every responsible person should contemplate about the possible responses to pressing ethical questions and the challenges digital health means. As the waves of technologies are already flooding patients, the faster the appropriate answers come from the regulatory side, the better for the whole society. The reluctance and lack of incentives for physicians as well as policy-makers in this cultural transformation make patients the leading driving force in initiating changes. Although there are positive examples as the story of the FDA approving an artificial pancreas as the result of the #WeAreNotWaiting movement, individual entrepreneurship skills should not define patients’ health outcomes in the long run.
Medical Professionals & Policy-Makers Should Be The Guiding Lights
No matter how difficult it is, medical professionals and policy-makers should always be one step ahead of technology. They must take up the role of guiding patients through the myriad of digital health technologies – but it is only possible if they are up-to-date and open-minded. On the one hand, they must ensure patients don’t turn to non-proven services or technological solutions, on the other, they must involve patients as partners in designing care and decision making.
As disruptive technologies have the potential of taking away repetitive and monotonous tasks from physicians, they will be able to dedicate their focus to the patients as guides through digital health. Moreover, medical professionals will be able to go back to the very basics of healthcare. They could provide empathy, social care and the human touch which seems to be so scarce in traditional medicine.
And what other goals could digital health possibly have than healing patients with empathy and the best of knowledge?