The rapid adoption of technology in healthcare has implications for education as well.
One just needs to cast a cursory glance at the world around us to appreciate how new-age technologies have revolutionised the healthcare sector. The increasing adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has seen the role of chatbots and robots expanding from customer service representatives preliminary diagnostic tools to even therapists. AI is being deployed to increase drug efficacy and efficiency and also to reduce drug discovery costs. The employment of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality allows us to better empathise with the needs an Alzheimer’s patient, or the elderly. Blockchain has great potential in decentralised management and security of electronic medical records.
Perhaps, the most visible use of technology in healthcare has been the widespread adoption of wearable medical devices, which empower us to take control of our health and offer easy access to our medical information. The pandemic has also contributed in a big way to the use of technology in healthcare. While the ubiquitous use of mobile phones, and low-cost Internet penetration, provide an opportunity to the healthcare sector that it can ill afford to squander, the greatest change has been the change in the mindset of the end-user. For example, while technology and infrastructure for tele-medicine has long been in place, it is only the current crisis that has made people more open to exploring it.
This rapid adoption of technology in healthcare has implications for education as well. While there is increasing awareness of the interdisciplinary nature of healthcare education, technology must become an integral part for it to yield results. A few introductory courses alone will not be enough. Perhaps an internship semester could be explored. With the sector also being a fertile area for start-ups, universities should create an ecosystem for student entrepreneurs to flourish.
Students who aspire to enter this sector must realise that, while opportunities are mushrooming, it is likely to undergo frequent technology-driven disruption. To leverage these opportunities, they must focus not only on what, but also on how to -learn, and be equipped with higher-order thinking skills.