Industry 4.0 is a huge part of the everyday business of our clients and of the media. Not only is the industrial sector influenced by the digital revolution, but also the banking sector and the healthcare field is constantly changing. Therefore the phrase “healthcare 4.0” is used everywhere. Thanks to our work with clients in healthcare IT we do see changes and trends coming for those working in the healthcare system, as doctors or the nursing staff. Our post “Practice Dr. Google” already showed some of the trends and digital solutions for the healthcare field which are already used by doctors and patients.

Now we want to go even further and take a look at the latest scientific research which goes beyond document processing or connecting hospitals with third party providers such as insurances.

Imagine…

You are at the doctor’s because you have a constant headache. The doctor dictates his first findings to a virtual assistant. Quite normal actually because that allows him to do two things at once: updating your file with the latest findings and settling the further treatment. The novelty here is that the system even enquires for more details. It wants to know where it hurts exactly, since when you suffer from headaches and how intense it is. Furthermore, it wants to know if you have already taken pain killers or treated yourself in any other way. Obviously the doctor has already asked you this, but he did not write it down. When all the information is recorded, the system even suggest several different treatments. Therefore it peeks into the database, where the latest results and findings can be found. The patient now benefits not just from the expertise of his own doctor but also from the knowledge of all the other doctors feeding the database with information.

The same technology could be used as a “medical assistant” in a hospital. Imagine that it would be possible to directly interact with the system. For example, a doctor could say: “This patient needs an X-Ray,” and this would lead the assistant to do several things at once. It would not only book the X-ray room for the patient but it would also enquire for more details, such as “Where should we focus on?” and it would update the file, all at once.

The medical assistant could maybe even perform more tasks in the daily routine of a hospital or a practice. It is imaginable that the intelligent assistant helps doctors in the operating room, operating or serving machines. However, before we can cross this line, we will have to clarify what the assistant exactly would be allowed to do. How do we separate acting independently and pure supporting? Medical expert systems should be allowed to give advices, but the doctor has to stay independent and retain control over the treatment. However, these kinds of systems can be supportive and might offer alternative solutions.

Of course, medical assistants with this range of functions are just fiction, but if you think of talking refrigerators and self-steering cars you have to admit this is not so far from possible.

This year’s ConhIT 2016 will surely introduce a wide range of new developments. Medical engineers and other industries always present new solutions changing the future of medicine.

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