Imagine this: You go for a jog through the hilly woods and your breath becomes shorter than usual, you break out in a cold sweat and feel a bit lightheaded. But you don’t notice the signs of a heart attack because you’re working hard and attribute the symptoms to exercise fatigue. However, your clothing, which has been monitoring your vitals, hormones and emotional state, doesn’t make this mistake. Soon your thumping music is interrupted by a Skype call from your doctor who asks a few questions, and then dispatches paramedics to your GPS location.
This is the future of health care, and it’s not far away.
As medical technology steadily improves, health professionals are looking at ways to revolutionize and evolve the medical landscape — from how hospitals are designed, to developing new treatment methods and more intimate outpatient care.
The intimate approach comes into fruition as hospitals have been witnessing a decline in inpatient admissions (down to 111 admissions per 1,000 people in 2011 from 123 per 1,000 in 1991), and an increase in outpatient care partly in thanks to better technology, according to an analysis of American hospitals by Avalere Health.
The study specifically cites less invasive surgical techniques and improved anesthesia management as reasons for increased outpatient care. Some doctors suggest because of new tools like video chatting services, smart clothing, various treatment management systems and diagnostic smartphone apps, outpatient health care will become immersed in a virtual world where physicians are a click away from monitoring their patients’ vitals, diagnosing illnesses and recommending treatments — all without actually meeting face-to-face, which saves everybody involved time and money.