A look into the future of healthcare

healthcareIn the future, healthcare systems across the globe will be put under increasing pressure as a result of rising costs and a growing population. In the United States 60% of personal bankruptcies are due to the high cost of medical bills, according to journalist Steven Brill. Across the Atlantic, the UK’s public National Health Service is said to be close to bankruptcy. The search is on for a solution.

A new approach can help cut future healthcare costs
According to the Center for Advancing Health (CHA) retail clinics may provide a way forward. If you need to see a doctor but can’t get an appointment, then you can just walk into your local clinic and wait for only 15 minutes before seeing a healthcare professional. The results of your examination will be sent to your regular doctor, but most importantly, you will have received treatment for a minor ailment, and you won’t have to be covered by insurance to receive this treatment – you just pay the fee demanded by the clinic. The CHA has found evidence that costs at these clinics is lower than standard ER prices. Through the use of healthcare automation the patient’s records will be kept up to date and can be retrieved at any time.

Technological innovations in healthcare
The increased use of sensors to monitor health is gaining momentum. A recent article in USA Today highlights how something as simple as a breath analyzer may be able to detect lung cancer; and sensory technology is already obtainable in the fast moving apps market. WiFi connectivity can help smartphone users who are diabetic determine their blood sugar levels and prevent patient collapse.

Apple has developed a sensor that communicates with the iPhone that will warn the patient if their glucose levels are low. The California Healthcare Foundation (CHCF) has produced a fascinating infographic that demonstrates how patient sensors could work. The aim of all these innovations is to help the patient manage their conditions, and they also help keep healthcare costs down. It’s always far better to prevent than to cure.

Targeted Medicine
As the Baby Boomer generation comes of age, the United States is faced with problems of an aging population. Targeted medicine has been suggested as a way of dealing with this potential problem. Through the use of genetic testing, scientists will be able to determine if someone is likely to develop cancer or Alzheimer’s and offer treatment before the condition takes hold of the patient. This more personalized approach to medicine will also be able to detect if a person is likely to suffer side effects from their prescribed drugs.

Alzheimer’s, a ticking time bomb
By 2030 there will be an estimated 71.5 million Americans over the age of 65. Sensors and video conferencing can manage some potential health problems for patients; there is still a need for greater investment in successful drug therapies.
The blog Innovation suggests that treatment that can, ‘delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years and could save $447 billion.’
Science and the pharmaceutical industry are working hard to develop treatment for this shattering condition, and research results show that a combined drug solution may provide an answer. The healthcare of the future may yield cures for many of the terminal conditions of today.