How technology may affect physician visits by 2039

Healthcare experts anticipate technological developments in telemedicine, artificial intelligence, EHRs and wearable devices will define the future of physician appointments in the next 20 years, according to Texas Medical Center.

Here are three healthcare providers' predictions for how the following technology may impact appointments by 2039:

Telemedicine: Healthcare appointments via online and mobile devices will continue to increase, allowing providers to reach patient populations with limited access.

"Today, how we 'visit' a [physician] is transforming," said Roberta Schwartz, PhD, CIO at Houston Methodist Hospital, according to the report. "We are moving from a world where you see the physician face-to-face to a world where you can visit a physician through telemedicine, whether you're at the hospital or home, and you can even have a text visit with a physician."

Artificial Intelligence: Physician visits will become more automated, and routine paperwork will be done by machine learning.

"Patients will fill out automated surveys prior to or upon arriving to appointments, be assisted by kiosks or robots to complete, and then find a room," said Emily Reiser, PhD, innovation strategist at TMC Innovation Institute. "All together, the upfront automation and automatic entry of conversation into EHR [systems] will enable higher volumes of patients per provider and more quality time with patients."

EHRs: Patient medical records will continue to move toward universalization.

"Be it everyone on Epic [or the same EHR system] or via interoperability, as much as hospitals are trying hard to hold onto their patient data as an institutional asset, the pull towards more open transmission of patient data between hospitals is going to eventually open it up, making patient care more efficient and less redundant," said Albert Huang, MD, innovation strategist at the TMC Innovation Institute.

Wearable tech: Physicians will likely collect data from patients' wearable devices and/or smartphones to assist diagnosis and treatment for different conditions.

"We are rapidly moving to a world where your health status can be monitored from home, uploaded and tracked by health professionals using sophisticated software to proactively identify patients at risk of certain health issues," Dr. Schwartz said.

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