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The future of women’s health care: 2013 and beyond

Gynecological care has changed dramatically over the last decade. Medical advances, coupled with advanced technology have merged together to create novel frontiers in the care of women.

In 2013 and beyond, pregnant women should expect to make fewer visits to their Obstetrician’s offices. The majority of pregnancies are uncomplicated, hence most antenatal visits are unnecessary. You should expect your Obstetrician to quantify your risk profile, and individualise your care. The less antenatal visits you make, the more you save. Such an approach will be augmented by e-Obstetrics (electronic Obstetric care).

This means more remote care enabled by easily available telephony, sms and video conferencing. Remotely controlled gadgets are already available, and can transmit health data to your Obstetrician. It is conceivable that most women will need to make only one or two antenatal visits. The first visit at about 12 weeks, with subsequent visits only if unpredicted events unfold. And you can expect the labor process to be no less futuristic. Artificially intelligent machines will merge with human Obstetricians to accurately predict the course of labor and delivery. Complications will be averted before they happen.

Gynecological care will be no different. Most conditions will easily be dealt with conservatively. That means no major operations or unending medications. Common problems like heavy bleeding will easily be cured with simple remedies, already commonplace. And conditions like fibroids will be amenable to treatments that simply evaporate the growths, all this without undergoing any surgery. And even cancer surgery will no longer be as extensive as it is today, novel treatment options can already target cancer cells without the need for major surgery.

Self-directed health will play a key role. Women will be able to compute symptoms and signs of disease with freely accessible diagnostic algorithms. You will then be able to decide if your condition warrants a physical visit to a Gynecologist’s office. As it is, most conditions are not life-threatening and only warrant reassurance. There will be savings aplenty.

All clinic appointments will be electronic and web-based. No more phone calls or physical appointment bookings. Web-based portals will allow self-booking when it suits, and with the consultant of your choice.

To cap it all, everyone will have access to their electronic health records. Paper records are already becoming archaic. Electronic health records, with inbuilt security and back-up processes have revolutionised health data capture and archiving. You should expect to be able to request a copy of your electronic records, and transfer these to alternate providers. Better still, you’ll be able to access an individualised and encrypted electronic health records web-based portal.

And part of all this will be consumer driven. It will be your duty to demand 22nd century service standards, and move on to competing health care providers if dissatisfied with any aspects of your care.

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Gynecological care has changed dramatically over the last decade. Medical advances, coupled with advanced technology have merged together to create novel frontiers in the care of women.

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