What the Future of the Medical Field Could Mean for You
Changes in the population of the United States, advances in technology and updates to the medical insurance system have the potential to make considerable changes to the medical field as it is known today. An increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases, a growing and aging population, and increases in the cost of healthcare could mean that the medical system 10 or 20 years from now will be much different than it is today. When you are searching for jobs in medicine, keep these four issues about the future of medicine in mind.
Rapid Growth in Many Medical Specialties
Many jobs in the healthcare field are growing at a much faster pace than other types of jobs. For example, occupational therapy assistants can expect a rate of job growth of 43 percent between 2014 and 2024, and physical therapy assistants will experience an estimated 41 percent growth between 2014 and 2024. Job growth for nurse practitioners is expected to be 35 percent, and physical therapist jobs should grow by 34 percent between 2014 and 2024. Home health aides, occupational therapy aides, physician assistants, genetic counselors, audiologists and optometrists will also have job growth of 20 percent or more between 2014 and 2024. Some of this growth is related to retirement of people in those jobs, but a lot of it has to do with an increased demand for such services from an aging and growing population.
More Patients Can Access Specialty Care
Advancement in technology means that more patients can access specialty care. For example, telemedicine makes it possible for a person located in a rural area to visit a general practitioner but receive a consultation from a specialist from an urban hospital hundreds of miles away. This increased access to care is mostly due to widespread and fast internet connections that allow for real-time video and audio conferencing, transmission of imaging studies and other services. For patients, it means that they can get the care they need without traveling across the state or across a region.
Increased Efficiency in the Delivery of Healthcare
Technology also makes it possible for nurses, doctors and related medical professionals to increase their efficiency in the delivery of healthcare. Instead of perusing a thick medical chart, a doctor can access critical information through an electronic medical record. Rather than waiting for a doctor’s office to fax a lengthy medical record or series of laboratory tests to a specialist’s office or hospital, the transmission can be accomplished through secure internet connections. Health information technology allows nurses to collect a patient’s vital signs and monitor symptoms in real time.
Improved Management of Patient Health Data and Outcomes
Technology also has the potential to improve the management of patient health data and outcomes. For example, powerful statistical analysis software allows statisticians, researchers and scientists to examine different types of treatment for a condition and determine which treatments work better under certain circumstances. Using technology to manage patient health data could also help doctors to predict potential side effects, complications or interactions for an individual patient. This could lead to a more customized treatment plan that makes it easier for a patient to adhere to. When clinicians and healthcare facilities adopt the technology, patients will see a wide variety of health benefits.