Archive for January 14th, 2019

How students can utilize technology in the medical field

January 14th, 2019

BY ANABEL MONAGHAN

 One of the most common questions that med students are asked is if they still think that it is worth all the hard work. This is quite an interesting question. Especially because many of these students have always wanted to go into medicine. They just always knew that they wanted to study medicine and become a surgeon. Look, it is hard. It is always going to be, no matter what you choose to study (if you even decide to study at all). Studying any field demands attention to detail and patience, but studying medicine is on a whole other level. Being a student and committing your time and energy to working towards your career goals is a tough job sometimes. But even so, it is always worth it in the end. For some med students, they just know that they want to help people, and becoming a surgeon seemed like the most worthwhile way for them to do that. So that is what they do. It is hard work, but more than that is understanding the key shifts that are happening in the industry. It might seem more obvious to some people, but technology has had quite a significant impact on most – if not all – industries lately. Medicine included.

This shift does not just correlate with digital health records and automating simple healthcare systems. Those are quite important innovations in the field, too, but the change that any student entering medicine needs to be aware of is this: the big-scale technological shift. From digital health records and automating systems, to the most intricate improvements, like machine learning healthcare, technology has well and truly found its way into the healthcare and medical industry. And they must be prepared for that. The field of medicine and healthcare has changed. As with the rest of the world, there has been a gravitational shift towards a more technologically-enhanced future. Some med students are happy being general practitioners, helping people daily with small health and medical issues. Others are more specifically focused – on becoming a surgeon, for example.

Now, surgeons have historically had very methodical ways of working to remove tumors and the like. This is the way it has always been. However, now technology is coming into the scene and changing things in sometimes drastic ways. Cholecystectomy, for example, is the removal of the gallbladder. This surgery is more common than you might think, in fact it is one of the most commonly performed surgical operations there is. Currently, a surgeon goes into the surgery performing slightly invasive tools and methods. These methods are known as Laparoscopic Gallbladder removal. While this surgery is often a success, it also happens to sometimes cause complications. And sometimes errors are made (no matter how hard the surgeon tries). Vascular injury and inadvertent bile duct are the most common injuries that arise during Cholecystectomy. The mistake occurs when a surgeon is unable to definitively identify the common bile duct, and instead mistakes it for the cystic duct.

These are the effects and circumstances that all surgeons-to-be (and anyone going into medicine, for that matter) should familiarise themselves with.  it is unfortunate, and it is serious, but sometimes humans make mistakes and we all need to be accepting of that. But here is the cool part. Artificial intelligence (AI) is now in development that could drastically impact this surgery’s prospective complications – eradicate them, even. Specifically in the case of thus surgery, AI can be invaluable. Why? Because using AI could precisely distinguish and recognise the anatomical structures that are the focus during a Cholecystectomy. AI has an incredible ability to take data and synthesize information to improve the recognition of the anatomical structures. This would be done in a more timely manner, and as such would drastically reduce the risk of medical error during surgery.

When med students start at university, they are told time and again that medicine requires a human touch and compassion to be truly effective. For this reason, a lot of students often feel that, when technology began to be introduced, that it would not take in the medical field. A lot of these same students drop out not long into the degree or fail courses that they needed to continue. They are not willing to adapt and shift with a gravitating field, and so their old-school attitudes make it too difficult for them to persevere. The healthcare industry has a lot to gain from embracing technology, with artificial intelligence and machine learning leading the charge.

And despite people’s insistence that the medical field is stubborn in its traditional ways, medical students going through their studies now, as well as those who are looking to study medicine in the future, will and should be ready and excited to embrace the technologically-fueled innovations that are working on strengthening my industry. By the time they enter the workforce, it will be ripe with technologies. If that is not exciting enough to tip their decision towards studying medicine, then honestly, what is?

Annabel Monaghan is a writer with a passion for education and edtech. She writes education and career articles for The College Puzzle with the aim of providing useful information for students and young professionals. If you have any questions, please feel free to email her at annabelmonaghanwriter@gmail.com