During the pandemic, 71% of Americans said they were afraid of visiting their physicians’ offices because of COVID-19.
This is probably not too surprising. Fear of contagion has led many to avoid common activities, from going to the grocery store to dining out at restaurants. But healthcare isn’t something any of us can afford to skimp on.
Today, more and more of us are lacking that human connection we so desperately crave. We look to healthcare as a means of keeping us both physically and psychologically well, and that’s why it demands a personalized approach. Technology, on the other hand, is often viewed as deeply impersonal. But, perhaps, that’s not how we should actually regard it.
In an MIT Technology Review survey of more than 900 healthcare professionals, many respondents said they are using artificial intelligence (AI) to aid their operations. This can not only handle backend processes but also be instrumental in making medicine more human-centric. And that goes for a range of additional technologies, too — not just AI.
How, precisely, can technology humanize healthcare?
A “Revolutionary” Approach to Healthcare: Freeing Up Time for Professionals
In recent years, the Japanese government pioneered an enormous undertaking aimed at improving healthcare in the country. One major goal is to free up time for healthcare providers to focus on patient care, rather than being bogged down in administrative work.
“Doctors and nurses simply don’t have the time to focus on patients as much as they’d like to,” explained Yusuke Nakamura. “Although we have advanced medical technologies, our hospital IT systems are lagging behind. Nurses spend up to one-third of their time updating patients’ records — time that could be better spent with patients.”
To that end, AI tools allow providers to automatically update patient records, employ speech-recognition platforms, perform positron emission tomography (PET) scans, and much more. These technologies have the capacity to take over the laborious work that actually prevents healthcare professionals from interacting with patients regularly.
Combing the Data
Thanks to technology, the healthcare industry — along with several other industries — generates enormous amounts of data every day. And with that abundance of information at their disposal, healthcare providers can use tools like AI to mine this data to identify patterns and make more informed decisions about patient care.
When healthcare providers are examining big data and using technology platforms to perform the legwork, you can also remove problems from the equation, such as bias, something that can adversely affect and interfere with the human perspective.
Accuracy is fundamental to the nature of medicine. We depend on our providers to deliver correct results and help us solve our most critical problems — those related to our health. Thus, precision is a foundational aspect of bringing humanity into healthcare.
A range of technologies facilitates more accurate diagnoses, better treatment plans, and the overall delivery of healthcare solutions. Of course, given that most patients would prefer to hear this information from a human professional rather than a machine, providers and technology can collaborate to deliver a more precise, humane approach to care.
Personalizing the Experience
Ninety-two percent of health executives cite delivering a highly personalized experience as a top strategic priority at their organizations. How can they achieve their goals?
A personalized experience is critical to patient care. It’s also a very human process — one that is aided and augmented by technology. Using tools to mine the data about their patients will better equip healthcare providers to understand their needs and gear their plans accordingly. It will also facilitate stronger, more meaningful interactions.
At its core, healthcare is about community. And thanks to technology, healthcare providers — and the entire industry — are no longer limited to their immediate surroundings.
Providers can easily exchange data via cloud-based solutions, allowing them to access patient information no matter where they are in the world. They can also ask questions within the medical community — a community that extends well beyond the borders of their hometown into different states, countries, and continents. Practitioners can learn from one another, even when they aren’t face-to-face.
They can also share resources, assisting other healthcare providers with their challenges, enabling them to solve problems and provide the best care possible.
If we are going to bring a greater sense of humanity into the healthcare sector, we must, first and foremost, focus on accessibility and equity. Thanks to a number of technological solutions, we’re making strides in that direction.
For example, patients can now access their patient data entirely online through both apps and web-based solutions, effectively democratizing medicine. In addition, more and more people are able to tap into medical services, even those who live in remote areas or aren’t physically equipped to go into healthcare facilities, thanks to telehealth platforms.
Time seems like an impersonal concept. But any patient who has waited hours to see their doctor, only to consult with them for all of 10 minutes, understands the importance of maximizing time with their healthcare provider — and why it’s a fundamentally human endeavor.
Today, more and more people are turning to telehealth platforms out of convenience. But these tools also mean that patients have more time with their providers without the hassle of having to commute to see them. That also means they are getting more out of their appointments. Moreover, both physicians and patients are more likely to follow through on actually seeing one another.
We are in a new age of healthcare, one that heavily incorporates digital solutions into the system. Rather than making the sector less personal, it’s actually transforming it into one that is a more human endeavor.