Have you connected with your doctor virtually in the past few months? With the Covid 19 pandemic and the disruption in healthcare, there has been increased exposure to using Telemedicine platforms to connect with doctors. There has also been a rise in self-assessment of symptoms, and storing and sharing online medical records. The proliferation of technology and rapid innovation has led everyone to wonder about the role of the physician in future healthcare ecosystems.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare market was valued at USD 6.7 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 41.8% from 2021 to 2028, according to business reports. The vision for the future of healthcare is very different from the way healthcare looks today. Efficient network connections, interoperable and secure platforms, innovative technology, and increasing consumer engagement are expected to keep transforming the healthcare scene. The doctor’s role has been shifting to align with the shift in medicine to preventive care. This article explores the diverse roles that doctors will play in future.
Healthcare leaders with technological support
Primarily the doctors of the future will continue to lead on healthcare as they have been doing till now. It is anticipated that they will work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals and services so that the patient receives holistic care. The role of the doctor is changing with the shift in technological innovation. From customer engagement portals, Telemedicine, remote monitoring to record-keeping and managing the revenue cycle technological advances are changing the face of healthcare and patient’s expectations from physicians.
According to a study by Deloitte, doctors spent nearly 2 hours on documentation for every hour they spent with the patient. This is changing as case histories and medical records that are key to medical check-ups are being increasingly maintained virtually. Smart records enable quick retrieval and sharing of medical data across caregiving professionals and organizations.
Doctors are being increasingly supported by ‘clinical assistants’. With AI at their core, these assistants support doctors with factors to be considered for decision making as well as information required. With this support, doctors are equipped with information outside their area of expertise. This is another advantage of AI/ ML.
Apart from being a healthcare leader, there are other roles that physicians will have to play that are unfolding slowly. Some of the common ones are listed below:
Also Read: How Does Artificial Intelligence Work?
Collaborator with AI
AI/ ML is already being used to diagnose certain diseases that may be otherwise difficult to detect. And based on the data diagnostic pathways may be suggested. Doctors have to work alongside AI to find the best alternative for their patients. They need to work provide any specialized insights to the care team and make therapeutic recommendations.
Patients today make more emotional demands on the doctor. Patients are well-informed and look up to the doctor for supporting their emotional well being apart from suggesting a course of treatment for their physical ailments. To be able to empathize with their patients better, doctors need to be able to manage their own well-being too.
The doctor bridges the gap between the public and communities and healthcare professionals by creating platforms that help educate people. The doctor will bring together the instructional and care place. giving functions so that innovative, straightforward treatment paths are in place for improved health outcomes.
Ongoing training and development will remain important to future doctors. Due to the rapidly changing demands, there will be an expectation of more training pathways that offer flexibility and diverse learning opportunities. There will also be the requirement to overfill the emerging skills gap rapidly. The diversity of skills required by doctors is critical to the future vision of healthcare.
It is envisaged that research will continue to be led by clinical academics with involvement from patients and the community. Covid 19 has highlighted the capacity for research and development with the rapid development of diagnostic systems and vaccines. With further collaboration between healthcare professionals, academics and industry in general, research and development skills need to be fostered.
Changing role of the patient
With the changing role of the doctors, the patient’s role is changing as well! A patient was passive and completely dependent on the doctor’s advice and recommendations for their health. That is slowly changing. A patient can now go in for self-testing at least in some cases like checking blood pressure, pregnancy, diabetes. During the Covid-19 pandemic, apps were made available to people to regularly check their symptoms and visit the doctor if there was an anomaly detected during self-assessment. The future patients can be seen as partners in managing the complexity around health care.
The scientific, sociological and technological changes happening around will continue to influence the role of a physician. With the changes, the role of the physician is set to become more nuanced and collaborative. With the aid of AI/ML the physician will be freed from routine, repetitive tasks o be able to give more time where they are required.