The use of technology in the UK’s hospitals is advancing rapidly. Over the years patients have become used to being connected to a whole variety of pieces of electronic equipment in order to maintain and monitor their health but the development of mobile technologies as well as progressive diagnostic tools mean that our hospital care is set to change still further.

Look to the future 

Hospital beds may change in shape and design, most wards are furnished with ripple beds in order to reduce the possibility of bedsores, but the kind of bed castors here are still attached to these beds for ease of movement. Of course electrical connectivity is a necessary part of the modern hospital castor wheel. Other equipment on the hospital ward will change beyond recognition.

Tricorders may become commonplace

One area that will change is the field of medical diagnosis. A recent article in The Guardian suggested that the diagnostic gadget as used in the US TV series Star Trek might become a commonplace feature within the next five years. The suggestion is that the gadget will be ‘capable of diagnosing a set of 15 diseases without the presence of a medical professional.’ This isn’t quite doctoring by robotics, it’s more a question of computers becoming more adept in the way in which they handle medical information and how they analyse this data.

Remote operations

Dr Peter Diamandis, who is in the forefront of medical technology exploration, believes that robotics will play a greater part in medicine. Already a system exists, known as Da Vinci, that allows surgeons to control a robot used in surgery as part of an operation from anywhere in the globe. Eventually, Diamandis visualises a world where robots will carry out surgical operations without any human input at all.

Changing the present 

Video consultations are becoming commonplace in UK hospitals. The authoritative Kings Fund highlights the Airedale Hospital’s telehub where patients don’t have to physically attend the hospital for an Outpatients’ appointment, the consultation is carried out through a video link. The hospital has recently published figures that show a ‘35% reduction in hospital admissions and a 53% reduction in patient visits to A&E’ as a result of use of the telehub.

Changes in mental health treatment

Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is already being trialled across the UK. Some detractors argue that patients may self-edit when filling in online questionnaires about their mental conditions, whereas others believe that in the absence of visiting a real therapist at least the patient will benefit from answering the questions and the data amassed online will be analysed by psychological experts. The Big White Wall is another example of how patients suffering from anxiety may be able to access online help.

From keyhole surgery to online diagnostic apps for smartphones, medical technology is changing quickly. Healthcare professionals are learning how to work with these changes in order to improve patient care. As for replacing people with robots, that’s a whole different ballgame….

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