Three pieces of modern technology that could enhance future doctor-patient relationships

Most clinicians chose a career in medicine to help people, but many are finding that they’re spending an increasing amount of time updating Electronic Medical Records (EMRs). This can prove frustrating for many as it takes them away from patients, however some fairly common technology could help bring them back together (Source).

There are significant benefits to incorporating the latest technology within healthcare organisations, notably technology can break the bond between a clinician and the patient. There is still a number of activities that require interpersonal communication – with the barrier of a device removed – like giving a life-changing diagnosis or identify clinical issues.

A few pieces of popular modern technology could allow clinicians to ditch their screens, and once again focus on their patients:

Google glass: While the optical head-mounted display was met with criticism on its release, due to its focus on social settings, the new Google Glass Enterprise Edition has been designed to be used in workplaces – from GE, Boeing and Volkswagen through to healthcare providers. Software developers, Augmedix, have already created an application for the Google Glass which allows physicians to live-stream activities, such as doctors’ visits, to remote “scribes” in HIPAA secure rooms. Here the scribes securely document the interaction, freeing up the clinician to focus on the patient, saving the clinician – they estimate – up to 15 hours a week.

Smart speakers: Wireless smart speakers – such as the Amazon Echo and the Google Home – are gaining popularity, with close to 30 million sold around the world. (Article).

These devices may be becoming commonplace within the home but they have yet to be fully integrated into healthcare organisations, where they could have a massive impact. Through utilising the devices’ voice recognition capacities, developers could use them to identify key words or sentences and automatically update the EMR, adjust the goals of a patient, or even create tasks – in the same way they are used to update personal calendars and write messages by voice.

Augmented reality (AR): This new technology hit the mainstream with the launch of Pokémon Go, just over a year ago, and while there hasn’t been significant adoption of the technology yet – outside of the popular monster catching game – there is a lot of development in the area. AR, which superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world (usually through a mobile phone), is projected to have numerous benefits in healthcare. While there are already medical apps available, AR really comes into its own when used in conjunction with wearable tech, like the Google Glass. Current apps which help patients to better describe symptoms, aid clinicians to find veins easier, and assist surgeons in the operating room will help to further breakdown the barriers between patients and clinicians – allowing a truly ‘hands off’ approach.

The healthcare applications are still in their infancy, as is the technology that powers them –the second generation of Google Glass has only just been released and Apple’s HomePod won’t be released until December of this year – but with such interest from both consumers and clinicians we can expect to see significant, and exciting, development in the very near future.