The Impact of Emerging Technologies on Healthcare: A Personal Perspective

By:  Husam Yaghi

With three decades in the tech industry, I’ve seen firsthand how innovation revolutionizes entire fields. Healthcare is undergoing a particularly exciting transformation thanks to emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR). This is a subject that hits close to home for me, with children in the medical and healthtech field.

With AI tools, the mountains of medical data can be analyzed to identify patterns and predict health risks before symptoms even appear! Several cutting-edge projects are exploring this potential in areas like preventative medicine. For instance, DeepMind is working on projects to tackle chronic kidney disease, detect eye disease and cancer; which is just a glimpse into the future.

AI can become a powerful tool for doctors, assisting them in diagnoses and treatment decisions. However, ethical considerations regarding data privacy are crucial. Regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and strong data protection acts supported by institutions to assure the confidence and assurance of the population that privacy is being protected could allow a more useful and proactive use of data, improving the quality of the information and output that is generated.

As someone with a background in computer science and engineering, I’m fascinated by AI’s potential. However, I believe AI’s true power lies in collaboration with human expertise. AI shouldn’t replace doctors; it should empower them. AI can help healthcare organizations substantially reduce the amount of ignored data and automate complex administrative processes to save time, generate deeper insights, and reinforce therapy effectiveness.  Doctors armed with AI-powered insights, can spend more quality time with patients and make well-informed decisions.

The key lies in responsible development and deployment of AI in healthcare. Public and private sectors need to work together to ensure the workforce is equipped to handle this technological shift. Reskilling and upskilling initiatives are essential to leverage AI’s true potential for patient care.

Augmented reality (AR) presents a treasure trove of opportunities for healthcare, particularly when it comes to cost reduction. One key driver is its potential to improve patient outcomes and independence. For instance, AR-assisted physical therapy can help patients recover faster and manage chronic conditions at home, reducing reliance on expensive in-patient care.

In conjunction with additional beneficial possibilities such as training and education in a cross-disciplinary, combined effort, the demand for crossover technologies may significantly increase. Increased societal demand for AR could lead to radical social change, the rise of more tech companies with a healthcare-related focus, and a healthy spurring of overall economic development both across and within industries.

Achievable examples of AR in healthcare include AR vein visualization (where nurses use a handheld AR scanner that projects a map of veins directly onto a patient’s arm to reduce the number of missed attempts during blood draws), AR-guided surgery (surgeons use AR headsets to overlay a patient’s 3D scans onto their real anatomy during surgery for a shorter operating times, fewer complications, and faster patient recovery),  AR for remote patient monitoring (imagine a diabetic patient using an AR app to check their blood sugar levels and receive real-time guidance on insulin dosages), and Medical Education and Training (medical student need to practice complex surgical procedure on a virtual patient for safe and realistic training).

The future of healthcare is brimming with possibilities. AI and AR have opened a vast field of online learning lifelong process, which has already begun absorbing physicians, especially those who work in community hospitals where emergencies and problems arise daily. By 2025 and beyond, as physician shortages and other facilities increase, we expect that both AI and AR will have matured and be fully installed and operating to complete their job in overseeing and overcoming human shortfalls.

Greater use of AI is expected to allow healthcare practitioners to spend more time with their patients and improve the diagnosis of most diseases early. With wearables and mobiles being able to track a patient’s health and make such information available in real-time to healthcare providers, and with other diagnostic tools already discussed like virtual patients and simulation systems already in place to help clinicians in monitoring and diagnosing other illnesses.

As a parent with children in the healthcare field, I’m incredibly optimistic about the future. Technologies like AI and AR, coupled with advancements in transhumanism (which I’m keenly interested in), hold the promise of a healthier future for all.

The road ahead might be unpredictable, but with responsible development and collaboration, technology can be a powerful force for good in healthcare.

Disclaimer: “This blog post was researched and written with the assistance of artificial intelligence tools.”