In a time when almost everything in society is either automated or portable, why is it then that certain sectors are being left behind?
The answer to this question isn’t straightforward that’s for sure, but regardless of its nature, it’s one that needs to be addressed.
The digital age marked a time in human history when the transition from traditional industry, i.e. the Industrial Revolution, to the information technology occurred. It defined a period when information was now transferred freely and swiftly. It was the beginning of an age that would not only revolutionize how things are done but how they are shared as well.
Encouraging isn’t it? To think that family members living in two distant parts of the world could be united by just a click of a button. But sadly however, some sectors of society seem to be lagging behind this fast moving train of the digital age. Healthcare is one such sector.
Modern medicine has undoubtedly come a long way but the journey is certainly far from over. In 2015, WHO reported that a staggering 400 million people do not have access to basic health services. That number cannot even be paralleled to the population of the United States of America which is currently estimated to be about 326, 7 million. How is it then, that in the digital age we are living in, where information is easily shared and accessed, that the most basic of human rights is still being violated?
These statistics should serve as a wakeup call to all those in healthcare, from the Minister to the physician, something can be done, and it starts with us.
However, in order to fully dissect this dilemma, we need to strategically look at three factors involved. These can be summarized in the ‘What, How, Who’ strategy.
What is the problem?
How can this problem be tackled?
Who needs to address this problem?
First and foremost, one cannot effectively deal with a problem without properly defining it. The problem facing the healthcare sector is the accessibility of its services to all. Many of those living in rural and isolated areas have no access to basic healthcare whatsoever. Many have to travel tens and even hundreds of kilometers at their own expense just to get primary health services. This leads to unnecessary and even premature loss of life, crippling the most vulnerable of society. The inaccessibility of healthcare leaves underprivileged people more impoverished which proves to be counterproductive to the elevation of poverty globally.
This inaccessibility is largely attributed to a lack of primary health care centers and hospitals in the most remote areas of the world. The shortage of qualified healthcare professionals only adds to this existing burden. Attempts to expand access to healthcare are being made, but are they effective and efficient, are they enough to counter the astonishing statistics reported by WHO.
Defining a problem isn’t as clear cut as identifying how it can be solved. The ‘how’ of this strategy is unquestionably complex and cannot be covered by one mere article.
The answer does however lie in two words: automate or disintegrate.
Since we are living in the information age why not take advantage of the endless benefits of healthcare automation. It’s convenience could be the answer we need before our healthcare system falls into fragments too small to put together again. Much like humpty dumpty, should our healthcare system take a great fall, putting it back together would seem nearly impossible.
But things don’t need to go in this direction. Solutions can be found, something can be done to salvage this situation which only seems to get worse by the day. Mobile clinics have formed an integral part of the solution and have been in actions for years now. However, the size of a mobile clinic certainly dictates what can or cannot be taken along for the ride. Not all hospital equipment are built with a mobile clinic in mind, which means that even the most basic of equipment, couldn’t be moved with ease to reach the unreachable, and to impact those who seem almost forgotten by the world.
This is where convenient, portable and fully automated devices come in. As we’ve seen with mobile phones in the past, an electronic device definitely has the ability to become smaller and more advanced with time. Gone are the days when a telephone box was the way of communication, now a handheld wireless device is sufficient. And I certainly believe that the days of big, immovable medical devices are nearing their end too.
Automated devices are surely at the forefront of the future of healthcare and form an important part of the ‘how’ in this strategy. Much of the equipment used today used to be much bigger and/or was used together with other pieces of equipment in order to perform a single task. But, as we have seen with the KUDUwave, combining multiple technologies in a single device, with a smaller form factor and without losing fidelity, is possible. Not only is it possible, but, much like consumer technology, this will quickly become a pervasive trend for medical equipment into the future.
Information technology has made the future of healthcare exceedingly bright and has brought us one step closer to the answer of how we can make quality healthcare accessible to all.
This may be one of the easiest questions to answer of the three. Who? Who needs to be part of the solution? The answer is simple, anyone and everyone who has a passion for healthcare, a passion for seeing lives changed and more importantly, seeing lives saved.
This isn’t solely for the government to fix, it’s for everyone. From the nurse to the biomedical engineer. To the medical specialist and the minister. Whether it’s by changing our approach or challenging the status quo. Or by thinking outside the box and making the impossible possible. Innovation is crucial, not only of equipment but of mindsets as well.
We can all be a part of the change.
There are people and companies already stepping up and answering the call. Bias aside, our own company and the home of the KUDUwave is one such company. Passionate about the future of healthcare we strive to be at the forefront of medical technology, not just to innovate but to provide real-world solutions that truly benefit mankind. The KUDUwave, is firmly at the forefront of the future of audiology and is only the first of a line of products focused on multiple body systems that will be launched in the coming years. The KUDUwave offers just a glimpse into what the future of healthcare can and will be with its automated audiology software and other future focussed features such as assistive interpretation tools.
An excerpt from the book “Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin reads as follows: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
In order for quality healthcare to prevail, the system needs to adapt or die, or better yet, automate or disintegrate.