THERE is no getting away from hi-tech.
Even your GP?셲 surgery ??until recently a place of traditional bedside manner, dusty medical records and out-of-date magazines ??is full of technological bells and whistles these days.
And the future is going to be even more hi-tech, as the following ten examples show…
The doctor is ready to see you now. On Skype, that is.
Many GPs already consult using Skype, as it saves you the bother of booking an appointment, or them the hassle of a home visit
E-consultations are becoming popular, too, with patients emailing in their queries.
The way things are going, you may not need a doctor at all ??online self-diagnosis software may mean your laptop becomes a lapdoc.
That?셲 blood tests taken while-you-wait, with instant results.
Some can rule out heart trouble or deep vein thrombosis, saving you an unnecessary trip to the hospital. Others can help the doc work out if that chesty cough really needs an antibiotic.
??/span> Instant scans
Practices are getting bigger, equipment is getting cheaper and GPs are expected to do more of their own tests. So some practices now have their own in-house hi-tech diagnostic kit, such as ultrasound scanners.
In future, this might extend to CT or MRI scans and, if consultants do more community clinics too, you could end up with a ?쐎ne-stop-shop?? cutting out the need for repeated appointments.
??/span> Remote monitoring
Some practices already get you to check your own blood pressure with a home monitor and email in the results.
Soon, we could end up with ?쐖irtual wards????with diabetics or lung patients, for example, having their blood sugars or oxygen levels automatically transmitted to the surgery.
If that sounds outlandish, bear in mind there are already skin tattoos and ?쐓mart teeth??that can records vital health information.
??/span> Consultation gizmos
That stethoscope is so last decade. Nowadays, there?셲 a smartphone app that docs can download to listen to your heart and lungs.
It won?셳 be long before we?셱e using smartphones to record heart traces, too.
GPs already use software ??QRISK2 ??to number-crunch your vital stats such as blood pressure and cholesterol. This gives us an idea of your risk of a heart attack or stroke in the next ten years.
In the pipeline are similar computer tools to help work out the odds of your symptoms indicating cancer.
Prescribing can involve a lot of guesswork about whether a drug will suit you or cause side effects. Not for much longer.
Pharmacogenomics may be a mouthful but it means that a simple test may enable your GP to tailor his prescribing to the drug that is just right for you.
??/span> Recorded consultations
Patients usually only remember three things per consultation ??that?셲 ?쐆ello?? ?쐅oodbye??and ?쐔ake these??
Don?셳 worry. Soon you may be able to download a video of your consultation to watch at home.
??/span> Hi-tech tests and treatment
So we need to look into your bowel? The old tube down your throat or up your backside may be on the way out ??literally ??because you may just need to swallow a micro-video capsule.
Even more impressive are nanobots, microscopic robots which can be injected into your system to target cancer cells or clear blocked arteries.
It?셲 so hard to recruit GPs these days that some areas are already trialling GP robots.
OK, not really. But it can only be a matter of time. So if you think your doc?셲 approach is a bit mechanical, you?셪l know why.
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Dizziness issue has mum in a spin
MY mother has suffered for a long time with vertigo and dizziness. I would appreciate some advice on possible treatment.
Brian, by email
Doctors view dizziness and vertigo as two separate things, and each have very different causes and treatments.
Vertigo is a feeling that the world is moving around you ??the sensation you get when you step off a merry-go-round and the world keeps spinning.
It can be really unpleasant and can also lead to nausea and vomiting.
It usually means a problem with the balance mechanism in the ear.
There is treatment available, though your mum might need to be referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist for further assessment.
Dizziness, on the other hand, is a more vague sensation of light-headedness but with no spinning. The cause can be very hard to pin down, not least because there are so many.
Possibilities include anaemia, low blood pressure, anxiety, heart problems and the side effects of medication.
So the starting point here would be for your mum to make an appointment with her GP to discuss her dizziness.
Should I give up drink for my disease?
I?셑E got epilepsy and was wondering if drinking alcohol affects it in any way? I?셝 find it hard to stop ??would anti-alcohol tablets help?
Adam, by email
Yes, booze can affect epilepsy ??in two ways. It can tend to trigger attacks and it can also reduce the effect of any medication you take for your epilepsy.
But if you?셱e going to stop drinking, don?셳 so it suddenly without any medical input as that can cause as many problems as it solves.
I?셝 suggest you talk to your doctor.
If necessary, you could be referred to your local alcohol team for professional help in getting you off the drink.
Busy body interrupts my sleep
EVERY night I?셫 walking the room with what feels like electric shocks going through my system. I?셶e been told this is something called busy legs. What can I do about it?
Norman, by email
I think you?셱e probably referring to Restless legs syndrome (RLS). This is quite a common problem.
Sufferers notice odd feelings in their legs, especially at night, which force them to move or walk about. It can certainly ruin your sleep.
There are other possible explanations for your symptoms, though, such as nerve damage to your legs.
Your doc may want to do some blood tests to rule these out. But if it is RLS, there is treatment available.
- Dr Hopcroft cannot be held liable for advice given here as answers to queries can only be given in general terms.혻If you are seriously worried about your health, please book an appointment with your own GP.
Got a question for Dr Keith? Email email@example.com or write to him at혻The Sun, 1 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9GF.