If you’re among the thousands of pharmacists & medical students worldwide or are about to pursue a degree in healthcare, it might have dawned on you that the field wouldn’t look the same by the time you get into clinical practice. With drones delivering medical supplies; an ever-increasing wealth of data from personal health sensors; and patients turning to telemedicine, the medical workplace will decidedly look different by then.
But you also regularly hear news like how algorithms are able to beat radiologists to the punch when identifying cancerous lesions in medical images. These can fuel fear that such advanced technologies will put physicians out of their jobs. While the likes of artificial intelligence and robotics will indeed replace existing professions, it cannot be stressed enough that those same technologies will create new jobs. Consider how the automobile industry took over horse carriages in the early 20th century. Younger generations of horse carriage drivers did not lose their job by adapting to the prevalent changes, and shifted to using cars in their businesses.
As such, it’s more accurate to say that those who don’t adopt those disruptive digital health technologies will be replaced by those who do so. So let’s see 7 of those new professions that are practical enough that people going into their careers could start specialising towards.
1. Deep learning expert: the algorithm trainer
From handling repetitive administrative tasks to uncovering clinical associations invisible to the human eye, A.I.’s prowess in healthcare is far-reaching. But paramount to employing competent algorithms is their efficient development. A.I. is all too often trained on medical data which are fraught with inherent biases; or developers use selected datasets not totally reflective of actual clinical environments.
This is where a deep learning expert comes in: to ensure proper training of medical A.I. Whether it’s for an autonomous emergency drone to find the optimal path to reach its destination or for devising treatment plans, such an expert will be able to guide and supervise the development and deployment of effective and ethical algorithms.
2. Lifestyle strategist: to guide patients with their health data
According to some analyses, the number of connected wearable devices worldwide is expected to exceed one billion by 2022. Thanks to the democratised access to individual health data they provide, this adoption trend is set to perpetuate.
For such adopters, a lifestyle strategist will guide them in navigating the load of data they constantly collect and devices they use from food scanners through meditation headbands to ECG monitors. Based on those individual health metrics, the lifestyle strategist can create personalised lifestyle, diet and workout routines for their patients.
Already, training in the emerging field of lifestyle medicine is helping physicians adopt such a role and it can help redesign primary care.
3. Telesurgeon: performing surgeries from afar
By 2025, analysts expect the global medical robots market to reach $12.7 billion; up from its $5.9 billion valuation in 2020. Combine that with the fact that 5G in healthcare is just around the corner, and it’s easy to see a rising demand for specialists well-versed in surgical robots.
With the assistance of robots, surgeons will not only be able to perform more intricate procedures but also to perform them remotely. And to fine-tune their skills, surgeons can employ technologies like augmented or virtual reality. These can adequately help plan for operations or even boost surgeons’ performance. Indeed, some studies show that VR-trained surgeons experienced a boost in their overall performance compared to their traditionally-trained counterparts.
4. Bioprinting experts: to design synthetic organs
While we are currently limited to bioprinting tissues, full-blown synthetic organs are an eventuality down the line. Some experts even believe that we will have a bioprinted heart in an animal in 12 years.
Such bioprinted organs will be lifesaving for the thousands of organ transplant candidates; and with bioprinting techniques, these organs can be custom-designed to individual patients. For this purpose, we will need bioprinting experts to scale the bioprinting material and scaffold to each patient’s needs.
5. Patient assistant: helping patients navigate the healthcare jungle
Despite the heavy technological presence in the future of healthcare, one of the most important aspects will be the human touch. This coveted aspect of compassionate care can be provided by a so-called patient assistant. The latter will provide patients with the adequate amount of attention; help them navigate their health data; and piece together relevant information for physicians to provide treatment options.
While such assistants or navigators don’t need to be physicians themselves, they have extensive knowledge of the healthcare system; and will work in tandem with a team of medical professionals to enhance the patient experience.
6. VR therapist: treating patients with new realities
By means of a dedicated headset, virtual reality immerses the user into a different world. The technology’s potential in healthcare not only includes medical training but also therapeutic pathways.
Indeed, studies already point to VR as being a beneficial, drug-free alternative; whether it’s in reducing post-surgical pain, making childbirth less painful or treating phobias. As VR therapies get increasingly adopted in mainstream practice, they will need to be professionally designed to incorporate targeted elements for patient groups. This is where the input of a VR therapist will be crucial. The latter would require a background in psychiatry and experience with VR technology to design appropriate treatments.
7. Health data analysts: to make sense of big data
With the amount of digital data doubling every second year and digital health tools contributing their share to this volume, we will need to make sense of such big data in healthcare. This will be the focus of health data analysts. They will need to constantly analyse and interpret this ever-increasing data load for local authorities or insurance providers.
Their data-interpreting skills won’t only be necessary on such higher levels but also in day-to-day medical practice. The analysts will be the one able to help streamline and deal with data that patients bring from their personal sensors and online testing kits. Thus, their work in separating the wheat from the chaff will subsequently enable physicians to focus on the relevant data points of their patients.
We hope that you found this list insightful and that it might even have helped you find your future professional path. If there are any promising ones you think will be of importance in the near future, do share them with us!