The growing influence of IT on the future of medicine
Digital technological innovation has yielded improvements at both the hospital and private practice level. Physicians can now hold video conferences with each other and with patients over thousands of miles, and health information can now be instantaneously exchanged anywhere in the world.
Mobile devices, combined with the Internet allow doctors effortless access to everything from research papers and drug interaction information to patient's records. And what was once the laborious process of collating information from different sources, now takes place quickly within a digital landscape.
Many surgical devices are becoming automated and robot like to some degree. The next step will be remote surgeries, where the the attending surgeon can monitor the entire operation remotely by controlling machines that perform the actual operation. Since the precision with which machines can operate is considerably greater than the human hand, this means that even extensive procedures will be less invasive, leading to less danger for the patient and quicker recovery times.
Perhaps the most promising advance is in genomic medicine. This is a field that digital technology actually made possible. It not only made sequencing the human genome possible, it is also making it possible to treat every patient as a unique individual with his or her unique genetic profile, which can tell not only susceptibility to diseases like high blood pressure and asthma, but also other areas such as potential adverse reactions to medications.
The continued development of digital technology means that new policies will have to be implemented to provide security for patient information and to ensure that physicians are sufficiently trained in these new devices and techniques. Unlike many other sciences, medicine has an immediate effect on human life. This means that advancements must be integrated carefully and only after sufficient testing and training. There must be a new generation of physicians who can use these new tools with the same proficiency that their predecessors had wielding a scalpel.