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Robot doctors – a tech step too far or a lifeline for patients?

Posted by Kat Farminer on 13th May 2015

Telemedicine_ConsultAs someone with recent, first-hand experience of using the NHS, I have to say I was impressed. But it also left me reimagining the whole organisation in my head and how technology could make the world of difference to my experience.

Just to caveat, I’m not talking about advancing medical science here. The fact the I can have an operation, not feel a thing and wake up safe and sound the other end was mind-blowing. I’m talking about the admin of it all. I’m sure it cannot just be me that is left tearing my own hair out by the utter painful tedium that is dealing with NHS administration.

I’m not saying that technological advancement is going to change established routines overnight. But even on these brief visits I witnessed several ways I believed the process could have been sped up by embracing the digital world that most other industries adopted long ago. For example, why are my records still on paper? Why can’t I book appointments online? Why do I have to travel to the actual hospital to ask a question?

With Forbes recently highlighting the ‘doctor of the future’ from American Well, dubbed ‘Telehealth 2.0’, there’s a lot of talk of ‘convenience’ and I believe this is where the crux of most patients’ issues lie. Yes, everyone likes to be able to go and see the trusty family doctor face to face, but when you’ve an illness or injury where you need to ask follow up questions, without the hassle of booking appointments and visiting surgeries, technology must be embraced.

Similarly, when doctors need to ‘check in’ on patients, for example the elderly, think how much simpler, more cost effective and, in some cases, safer it would be if those receiving care could have a quick ‘Skype’-style consultation daily.

In my opinion there is still a lot of ‘scaremongering’ about how convenience technology can really be incorporated to help health matters, without either details being leaked or people abusing the system. However, until we try how can we know?

Photo credit: Wikipedia