The medical field is on the cusp of some major changes. Healthcare costs, new technology, and physician shortages are coming together to create a doctor’s office of the future that will likely look very different than what we’re used to. Futuristic changes are already happening in certain practices. And you’re likely to see them become more mainstream within the next five years or so as technologies, like artificial intelligence systems, continue to improve.
More Efficient Use of In-Office Time
Since patients don’t like wasting their time in uncomfortable waiting rooms, many practices are already taking steps to reduce time spent waiting. Form completion often happens outside the office now, and the shift to have patients answer as many background questions as possible outside the waiting room will continue. Waiting rooms will also become more comfortable and tech-friendly. Some practices may introduce an app that patients can use to alert their doctors when they arrive in the parking lot so they’ll spend less time waiting.
After a long time in the waiting room, patients are often given only a short time slot to actually see the doctor. It’s frustrating for patients and also frustrating for doctors pressured to cram more patient visits into their days. In the future, look for doctors to offer more flexible schedules for in-office visits.
Virtual Visits Through Telemedicine
Having more time for in-person visits will be made possible, in part, by the rise of telemedicine. By the year 2024, up to 35% of doctors visits could happen virtually. Some doctors are already offering visits by video calls and online portals where patients can order new prescriptions.
As technology becomes more advanced, patients will be able to gather their own health information. For example, a patient could take their own EKGs on a smartphone and send it directly to their physician. And this won’t just affect routine care. Telemedicine can also help patients with urgent care needs get in touch with a doctor during non-office hours.
Preventative Care To Keep Patients Healthy
One of the most visible ways doctors offices may change in the future is by shifting their primary focus. Rather than waiting for something to go wrong, doctors will spend more time working with patients to keep them healthy. This means some doctors offices will start including well-being centers, yoga studios, health coaches, cooking classes, and other forms of support for healthy living.
The future of preventative medicine will encompass a whole host of changes happening in patient care. Artificial intelligence and wearable technology will work together to monitor patient health and provide recommendations. Genetic testing will also help guide preventative measures for patients identified as at-risk for developing certain conditions.
Integrating Technology Into Patient Care
Most of the changes we’ve discussed depend on technology playing a larger role in patient care. Techniques for making waiting rooms more effective use technology that allows patients to answer questions and check-in remotely. Virtual doctors visits couldn’t happen without video calls and remote monitoring technology. And preventative medicine will leverage wearable tech, artificial intelligence, and genetic testing.
Future technology is already changing today’s healthcare with advances like 3-D printing of prosthetics, robotic surgery assistants, and personalized medicine. Look for this trend to continue in the doctor’s office of the future.