How technology is changing the way patients deal with their illnesses

There was a time when doctors relied solely upon medical textbooks, thorough physical examinations, and extensive knowledge to diagnose patients; their symptoms and features would be analyzed and cross-checked before a prognosis was given.

These days, technology plays its part in a barrage of medical tests and examinations, improving accuracy and the speed with which a diagnosis can be made, and treatment offered. However, technology can do so much more, including revolutionizing the way that patients are able to deal with their illnesses.

From helping people to understand and interpret their symptoms to monitoring medication and maintaining contact with caregivers, technology has the ability to support patients everywhere.

Connecting doctors and their patients

If patients are to deal with their illnesses with ease and confidence, they must have ready access to their caregivers, and the right kind of information; technology allows that. Many practices and clinics are now equipped with online booking systems, repeat prescription services, and apps that chart patient care and allow easy diagnosis.

Skype, chat rooms, and social media are also aiding doctors in their quest to empower patients while keeping costs to a minimum. Technology allows medical professionals to cut costs, not corners. Apps are particularly effective when it comes to caregiving, creating a unique bond of communication between patient and doctor. Should a patient struggle with any aspect of his or her care, a consultant or doctor will be alerted.

An endless resource for research purposes

We’re curious creatures by nature, and never more so than when it comes to learning more about our own bodies and the potential for things going wrong. Indeed, our penchant for researching symptoms and ailments has become so infamous it has a name; Dr. Google.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to understand particular conditions and indicators. However, it’s important that patients seek out medical advice provided by leading doctors and scientists, or risk sleepless nights and panicked trips to the emergency room.

Online journal Oncotarget is a fantastic online resource for those wishing to learn more about cancer and its treatments, enabling patients to tackle their illness without guesswork or confusion. Such a website is an excellent example of technology’s ability to reassure and inform patients, empowering those with a life-altering diagnosis.

Organising treatments and appointments

Let’s face it; our lives have become so busy that we rarely know where we are these days. Hours turn into days then into weeks before we finally remember that important appointment or realize that our stocks of a particular medication are running dangerously low. When did we become too busy to take basic care of ourselves?

Luckily technology is playing an important part in illness management, with patients able to chart their appointments, be reminded to take medication and assess symptoms via a series of tailored apps and mobile functions. The most sophisticated apps can even predict when a patient is likely to run out of medication and ensure that prescriptions are sent and fulfilled. We are truly spoiled, but our ability to monitor our health has been revolutionized.

Breaking the taboo of illness

It will come as no surprise that young people are particularly engaged with technology. Having grown up with cellphones, computers, and tablet devices, many are more confident with technology than they are human interactions. Apps, websites, and online portals are a fantastic way for young people to tackle illness and long-term conditions, including weight loss, mental health, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Away from the scrutiny of treatment centers and the embarrassment of the waiting room, young people are perhaps more likely to seek medical attention, and manage their symptoms and medication. Technology enables many introverted patients to tackle their illnesses properly and banishes the stigma associated with certain conditions.

A smarter way to treat illnesses

Artificial intelligence and virtual reality are becoming commonplace in the gaming scene, enhancing players’ experiences and engaging their brains regardless of genre. Let’s not forget, though, that these upcoming applications have their uses across our everyday lives, too.

Artificial Intelligence algorithms are currently being used to design treatment programs, predict medical trends, and create new medications, as well as mining medical records to quickly find, and analyze patients’ data.

Technology can be used to undertake the roles of several members of administrative staff, as well as highly trained specialists. Meanwhile, virtual reality has been making waves in the world of young medical students; able to practice a variety of surgeries and procedures, trainee doctors and nurses are now much more hands on. Patients afforded glimpses of various treatments and specialisms via virtual reality are likely to feel more in tune with their bodies than ever before.

There can be little doubt about it; technology plays a massive role in patients’ understanding and treatment of their illnesses, and in doctors’ ability to examine, treat, and monitor those with a variety of ailments. The use of apps is particularly empowering for those living with a long-term condition, enabling patients to manage their symptoms and medication without the need for frequent check-ups and intrusive appointments.

Technology has the potential to save patients and doctors precious time and money, easing the pressure placed upon crowded emergency departments and oversubscribed wards; there is so much we can achieve from the comfort of our own homes. Our ability to control many aspects of our lives from the palm of our hand knows no bounds, and the sky really is the limit when it comes to medical intervention.

Chris Price