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After phoning your GP to make an appointment, you drive to the doctor’s surgery, sit in a waiting room for an hour and, once your name is called, head into the office for a few routine tests before getting a simple prescription – sound familiar?
Visiting a doctor, even for something seemingly simple like a prescription refill, can be a hassle - but it might not be for long.
We’ve gathered up some of the most exciting and life-changing predictions from across the globe to help paint the picture of what your doctor’s visit might look like in 2027.
We’re already seeing an increase in e-doctors, offering appointments via video-conferencing and emailing prescriptions or referrals straight to you. Not only does the virtual doctor mean you can have a consult whenever it’s convenient for you, but it also means you don’t have to leave the comfort of your bed – a great option for when you’re battling the flu.
However, there will still be cases in which a face-to-face consultation is necessary (as opposed to face-to-screen) which is where house calls will become an option. Neurologist Ray Dorsey and cardiologist Eric Topol predict that this ‘hospital at home’ model could allow patients to use a smartphone app to find a local doctor to visit them for a house call quicker than it would take them to find a driver. Turning the tables and having the doctor visit the patient also symbolises the power that patients will have in the future to control their health.
Almost half of all Australians have a fitness tracker and over the coming years, it’s predicted that these little devices will start measuring some big data. Already wearables like FitBit, Athos and Moov can track your heart and respiratory rate, as well as kilojoule intake – information that can help your doctor diagnose and treat more efficiently.
“The next step is for the patient to be able to plug this data into their medical records, which would allow us to mine data for both individual patients and groups of patients,” says Dr. Sandeep Rao, MBA.
Dr Rao explains that tracking patient data using wearables could help doctors have a better view on the effects of medication. For example, if a doctor was to prescribe blood pressure medication to a group of patients, a tracker could provide ongoing data on each patient’s heart rate. When aggregated, this data could help determine the effects the medication had on different demographics – sex, ethnicity, age, etc.
Say goodbye to the physical examinations which involve the nurse taking your vital signs, because with the influx of technology, you’ll be able to measure your own blood pressure, glucose level and temperature using your smartphone, along with a few of the gadgets you’ll have in your future first-aid kit. The doctor can access all of your vital signs before you even start your consult – saving a whole lot of time!
If you’ve ever had to juggle multiple pills throughout the day, you’ll know how tricky it can be to take them in the right order, at the right time. 3D printing might have the answer.
Researchers are using 3D printing to create customised pills, allowing multiple prescriptions to be combined into one tablet. These pills can also be tailored to control the dose and release rates – meaning you could access medication that is personalised to your needs.
Not only will the future doctor’s visit make it quicker and easier for us to access quality healthcare, but it will also empower us to have more control over which medical professional we choose to see, when we choose to make an appointment and what treatment options we engage in – just what the doctor ordered!