I cannot wait to stop wasting my time driving cars and focus on my work while my automated vehicle takes me wherever I need to go. But I’m sure I’m going to be nervous in the first few dozens of trips and I will keep my eyes on the road. Disruptive technologies take time to get comfortable with. And when it comes to our health, we are even more cautious.
Let’s see the top scary medical technologies, which will nevertheless bring positive change into our lives when we will eventually get accustomed to them.
1) Blood-drawing robots
Blood tests might be pretty scary even without a robot. It is not only carried out with a needle, but sometimes it also takes a lot of time and more than one attempts until the nurse or the phlebotomist finds the appropriate vein to carry out the procedure. Blood-drawing robots such as Veebot could reduce the whole process to about a minute, and tests show that it can correctly identify the best vein with approximately 83% accuracy, which is about as good as an experienced human phlebotomist.
However, when a phlebotomist sits down to take a blood sample that is a serious issue of trust. When a robot does it, we are going to be nervous. What if something goes wrong? What if the robot cannot stop in time? But after several successful occasions, patients will get used to it, and it is going to be normal not to waste human resources for repetitive tasks that are easy to automate.
2) Surgical robots
Surgical robots have the potential to change how surgeries will be carried out in the future. The industry is about to boom: by 2020, surgical robotics sales are expected to almost double to $6.4 billion.
The example of the da Vinci surgical robot system shows that the device does not replace surgeons, but it rather extends their capabilities and makes them even more precise. At first, it is going to be scary to lay down under the knife of a robotic surgeon. Since you entrust medical professionals with your body, you will have aversions towards a programmable machine without the capacity to make its own decisions. But we have to get used to the fact that surgical robots will make fewer mistakes, while they will be under the control of real surgeons the whole time, since I believe that such robots will become widely accessible soon!
3) Telemedical robots
Doctor shortages are global phenomena. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there is a worldwide shortage of around 4.3 million physicians, nurses, and allied health workers. At the same time, the need for healthcare services is rising: illnesses are becoming easier to catch, civilizational diseases such as diabetes and obesity is on the rise, while aging societies need more and more care.
We will never be able to train as many doctors as we need worldwide. Robots with telemedical devices will certainly appear in more and more clinics and it’s going to be a common element of care to see them in practice. Are you sceptical? Just give it a try! Look at InTouch Health! Through its waste network, patients in remote areas or people who are not able to travel have access to high-quality emergency consultations for stroke, cardiovascular, and burn services in the exact time they need it. MouthWatch introduced the TeleDent service, an all-in-one teledentistry platform, which allows you to capture images, clinical notes, billing codes and send that information to a dentist located miles away.
4) Medical AI “assistants”
Have you ever talked to a chat bot? You should not miss the experience, try cleverbot.com! You will become pretty uncertain about whether you are talking to a human or an algorithm within seconds. It’s creepy. And it’s getting out there in more and more areas of life.
Do you have some troubles with your parking ticket? A 19-year-old British programmer launched a bot last September which is successfully helping people to appeal their parking ticket. It is an “AI lawyer” who can sort out what to do with the received parking ticket based on a few questions. Up until June, the bot has successfully appealed between 160,000 of 250,000 parking tickets in both London and New York, giving it a 64% success rate.
When it becomes mainstream, we will first turn to these algorithms as we turn to the medical assistants of today, when we have some medical problems; and they will only direct us to physicians when physical contact and examination is necessary.
5) Augmented reality
Have you also been washed away with the Pokémon Go craze during the summer? Then you know exactly, how it feels like to deal with a mixture of the real and imagined at the same time in your eyesight. You put on a pair of glasses or your phone in front of your eyes, and you start seeing the real world differently as the device will feed your brain with digital images and videos projected onto real scenes.
In the field of medicine, AR could assist surgeons in the OR, could help in finding veins easier and it could also revolutionize the study of anatomy.
We will definitely see more of the world than what it is and it will take time to find the right balance what you want and don’t want to see. When digital information will appear about someone we just met around their head, we are going to have serious talks about privacy.