Artificial intelligence is learning how to diagnose cancer. Robots are in the surgical suite. Virtual reality is helping patients overcome phobias and pain. There’s a smartwatch on your wrist measuring your heartrate and counting your steps. There’s an app to help you with your physical therapy. Of course, these innovations are just the tip of the iceberg. Technology has become firmly interlaced with healthcare. With the introduction of each new piece of medical technology, some are wondering out loud what impact this will have on human healthcare providers. Will AI-based diagnostic tools replace radiologists? Can robots replace nurses?
Let’s get one thing straight. The landscape of healthcare professions will evolve. But that doesn’t mean human practitioners will be rendered obsolete. Quite the contrary. Technology will help reduce healthcare professionals’ workloads, so they can focus on the patient and not the process. It will also usher in a variety of new careers within the industry. Here are just a few of the new or evolved tech-infused medical positions we can except to see in the near-term.
Medical 3D-Printing Specialist
From prosthetics and bone grafts to living-cell organoids used for drug testing, 3D printing has proven it deserves consideration as a viable medical tool. As the technology becomes more commonplace in the industry, we can expect to see a demand for specialists in this arena. The individuals in this position will need to have a solid understanding of both technology and biology.
Drone Navigators and Pilots
Imagine this scenario: A natural disaster has made accessing a particular location difficult. There are first responders on site. They are triaging and treating patients, but they are running short on supplies. Deliveries will be delayed as traditional mechanisms are hindered by downed powerlines, flooded roads, and debris. A drone, however, can easily deliver a package with medical equipment, donor blood, medication, and other materials. If you’ve ever tried to fly a drone, you know it can take a bit of practice to get it from Point A to Point B. And consider that medical cargo may require special transport requirements such as temperature control and stability. Individuals with skills in engineering, navigation, and biology will be in demand as use of this technology increases.
“Hey Alexa, what do hives look like?” Recently, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service announced that it had partnered with Amazon to deliver NHS medical advice via Alexa. The move is designed to help alleviate some of the pressure on the country’s healthcare professionals by giving patients a tool to self-assess what kind of care they need before seeking in-person medical care. If voice assistants are going to be a viable health and wellness tool, the ability to pull accurate and user-friendly content is paramount. With the proliferation of technology like apps for voice assistants, mobile devices, chatbots, and virtual reality-based training tools, content creators with a solid understanding of medicine will be in high demand.
As surgical robots become more commonplace in hospitals, the skill sets required of today’s physicians will evolve. Surgical robots like Medrobotics’ Flex Robotic System are easy to use and give physicians access to anatomical locations previously difficult to access. This will mandate that physicians to learn how to use these modern surgical tools, which require a different set of skills than those used in traditional procedures. In addition, surgical support team members skilled in this new equipment will also be in demand.
There are already hospitals welcoming robotic assistants to their teams. These bots are typically programmed to perform repetitive and mundane tasks. Shifting these tasks to a technological assistant has freed up nurses to do what they do best – focus on patient care.
Thanks to machine learning, AI can comb through mountains of patient data, identify patterns, and offer a potential diagnosis. What it’s not good at, however, is looking at that data within the context of a bigger picture. Sometimes, unique patient circumstances can open the potential for alternative explanations. Humans are certainly more adept than any technology at looking outside the box. In other words, AI-based diagnostic tools are simply that: tools. Tech, in this instance, isn’t replacing today’s medical pros. It’s offering them another tool to help aid the process of diagnosing a patient in a timely manner.
Sometimes tech breaks down. The more tech we incorporate into the health industry, the higher the demand for technology gurus to maintain it or, to step in and fix it when needed. As medical equipment tends to be highly specialized, technicians will need specific skill sets to work with the nuances associated with this equipment.
So, while technology continues to transform healthcare, it is apparent that there will be many more career opportunities created than eliminated.
# # #