How does one select hotels? We usually scout the internet or traveller reviews about a particular hotel and then select one, this is besides taking into consideration factors such as brand visibility, reliability, reputation, loyalty schemes etc. Believe it or not, the healthcare industry is now moving towards this. An increasing number of people are largely relying on social media to select which hospitals to get their treatment done at. Sites such as Health Grades, Hospital Ratings, the Joint Commission etc. are solely dedicated to reviewing and rating hospitals. Not to mention Google, where each major location has a large number of reviews.
We shop online, book flights online, watch movies online, connect with friends online, but how many of us manage our health online? Very few do, however change is happening right now. Very soon, digital health management will be expected and demanded by us. It will be the norm. Wearables are the first step in this direction. We can now keep a track of our vitals and other major body statistics with wearables which can help us to more effectively analyse a problem if it does arise and also help us to drastically improve our quality of life. There are companies who have invested in wearables to keep track of employee health in an effort to reduce stress and increase productivity.
Then there’s the sci-fi stuff. Genomics is a subject where modern technology can be used to better analyse human DNA which can revolutionise treatments. We’re talking personalised treatments, gauging on the reactions of each individual’s body and so on. Organs-on-chips is another subject where advances in DNA sequencing and stem cell research has enabled researchers to grow miniature organs, based out of the patients own DNA. If this isn’t development then what is?
Genetic Engineering which includes gene-therapy and the use of genetically modified viruses to fight diseases are also branches of medical science which heavily rely on digital technology. But perhaps, the most convenient development of all would be the advent of telemedicine. The need to travel long distances to seek professional consulting is being minimised albeit slowly. However, telemedicine has the potential to drastically improve healthcare in remote and rural areas purely through the usage of internet connected mobile devices. The results of telemedicine projects so far have been utterly delightful!
Finally coming to the ultimate medical dream, 3-D bio-printing; in February 2016, researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine announced that they have successfully implanted 3D printed bone, muscle and tissue into animals. Again using DNA analysis, we are slowly approaching the age of replaceable, custom-made body parts. This is something which is truly mind-blowing.
It is important to note that the above developments were possible only due to the endless possibilities of digital technology. Digital has had far reaching consequences in all facets of our life and the healthcare industry has been among the earliest to experience digitisation and for good measure. Digital marketing will be of the utmost importance as the industry slowly matures and digital marketing strategies will also need to be looked into. That said, the future of human health looks bright indeed.