The Topol Review, an independent report from England’s National Health Service (NHS), has called for more use of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and robotics in medicine. Written by Dr. Eric Topol, a digital medicine researcher, cardiologist, and geneticist, the report outlines the ways in which NHS staff can use technology to improve medical services.
Dr. Topol calls for increased usage of health apps, virtual reality, A.I, and robotics in medicine. NHS has created a library of over 70 health apps for both patients and healthcare workers which will be rolled out in early 2019. By 2021, people will be able to upload data from lifestyle apps and wearables and securely transfer it to their healthcare records.
Virtual reality can be used in these applications for mental health monitoring and the livestreaming of surgeries to help educate surgical residents and interns. Artificial intelligence can be used for mundane, administrative tasks, allowing healthcare workers to spend more time with patients. It can also be used to analyze data, particularly in the fields of ophthalmology, radiology, and pathology.
Finally, robotics, which has been used in surgeries for over 30 years, can be further integrated with artificial intelligence capabilities. Eventually, these robotic devices will be able to make medical decisions based on the data they collect, which will raise legal and ethical questions, Dr. Topol writes.
The integration of cutting-edge technology into medicine will require more training for healthcare workers as well as public education. Technology like apps and wearables will enable more patients to take charge of their healthcare and will allow for greater access to healthcare across all classes.
“Tackling digital exclusion while supporting the workforce to develop new skills and practices will be essential to ensure access and adoption across all socio-economic groups,”
Dr. Topol writes.
Senior care, an area that has much crossover with healthcare, is also moving towards digital medicine. A recent survey by global architecture firm Perkins-Eastman titled “The State of Senior Living: An Industry Grappling with Autonomy” found that the majority of healthcare providers believe that telemedicine and voice-activated support like Amazon Alexa will be extremely impactful in the healthcare industry.
In the same vein, security company Essence has created smart home devices and monitoring services specifically aimed at seniors. Their system [email protected] Smart Alerting includes a voice-activated panic detector and A.I sensors that can learn seniors’ behavioral patterns. Overall, both the healthcare and senior care industries are moving toward artificial intelligence and vocal commands to increase consumer wellness.