As a healthcare professional, I constantly keep an eye on the latest innovations and developments in the field of sports medicine and orthopedics. This field continues to grow, but what we have witnessed in the past ten years is a significant jump in technological advancements, specifically advancements designed for patient assessment and personalization.

More and more, our industry is seeing not only significant strides towards smart healthcare technology but surging pushes where funding is being allocated to encourage healthcare innovation.

Example: The Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE

The Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE is one example of how the healthcare industry has incentivized the innovation of medical advancements. This was a global competition with a $10 million prize purse which aimed to develop a medical device capable of diagnosing 13 medical conditions independent of a healthcare professional or facility, as well as continuously monitor at least 5 vital signs while also leading toward a positive experience in its use.

This challenge forced healthcare innovators to think outside of the box – literally, to get patients out of the hospitals and have the option to receive the healthcare insights that they need in their own home.

This cutting edge technology competition is just one step towards healthcare equality, which is one of the biggest hurdles in our society as it stands today. This prize asked innovators to create a way for consumers to receive direct medical care outside of the access bottleneck.

Getting access to healthcare is extremely limited, with consumers being forced to jump through hoop after hoop (including the first step to get healthcare and then find a physician) in order to receive the care that they need. Because of this bottleneck, many consumers turn away from the process because it is becoming too difficult, or because they believe that their need was not met.

Opening Up Healthcare’s Doors

The Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE is just one example of how healthcare has revolutionized itself in a period of major social expansion and upheaval. This industry is, rightfully so, rapidly seeking ways to automate processes that we know can be automated, and the ability to check your own vital signs at home is just one step of this process.

I think that many physicians fear these innovations will limit the role of the doctor or throttle their authority. However, we need to embrace these technologies as extensions of knowledge in the medical field so that consumers can gain access to more appropriate forms of knowledge about their bodies.

By allowing the consumer a way in and not forcing them to come into a hospital, we are showing them that we want to adapt to their needs and not the other way around. The need for virtualized healthcare is even more impactful given the state of our healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Exponential Technologies in Healthcare

In previous posts, I’ve discussed the many ways that exponential technologies are taking off in our field. Robotic surgeons, AI physician assistants, and personalized surgery are all emerging innovations that are being well-received by physicians.

Not only will these technologies enhance our ability to diagnose and treat, but they will also free up time for physicians to creatively address more critical underlying issues. Physicians are at the forefront of their field in that they are actually treating the patients with issues.

By freeing up their time, physicians may be able to better problem-solve when dealing with patients 1-on-1.

Challenges like Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE are working to bring exponential technologies into everyday use, acting as a liaison between engineers and practitioners, and implementing developing technologies early on into practice.

But exponential technologies in our hospitals and practices do not need to be scary. The idea of a robot-led surgery is a little futuristic. Generally, people don’t enjoy going under the knife, so encouraging a robot to lead the way won’t be promising for future exponential technological advancement in our field.

Instead, open up to patients about the implementation of technologies that are easier to swallow, such as apps, data processing, and small AI software. This type of technology would be more familiar with users already considering recent innovations in phone technology, for example. So touching a phone and playing with a healthcare app won’t seem as daunting and this could open up their mind to the potentials of exponential technology in healthcare.

Embracing the Revolution

But exponential technologies don’t have to stop at curable apps. What will aid in this healthcare revolution is the willingness of physicians and surgeons to test, implement, and report on exponential technologies in training. This requires a revamping of how processes are conducted within each practice as a way of opening up avenues for implementing new technology in the first place.

Our patients are savvy and aware of these changes, so keep them in the loop and get real-time feedback on the consumer experience, the ease of use, and the accessibility of the product.

By allowing these implementations, practitioners need to walk their patients through confusing technology or shifting procedures and inform them of the ways in which this technology can be a part of their lives.