If one photo says more than a thousand words, stock photos instead tell a thousand lies. Creative illustrations duplicated millions of times in different contexts communicate mostly the perfect, unreal image of digitalization. Welcome to the instagrammable future of healthcare!
It takes only the right keyword in a search engine to find a perfect matching photo for an article, whether it’s “big data in healthcare,” “telemedicine” or “electronic medical records.” What you get are graphics that present technology in healthcare in a funhouse mirror—a false picture of what digital health is. When industry insiders ask whether this is still medtech or already pure science fiction, patients and physicians are stunned by the technologized world.
Many images, illustrations, videos are not only absurd. They show the reality that doesn’t exist. Of course, stock photos must express a clear, universal, understandable at first glance message. They must attract attention, impress, show phenomena symbolically—like virtual medicine or data interoperability—that is not easy to describe using words. And that sometimes requires over-exaggeration.
However, not only texts but also photos shape opinions and mind-shift. Therefore, digital health needs more serious, real-life pictures illustrating real-life people and working conditions of healthcare facilities and professionals. Otherwise, the unrealistic image formed by stock photos will either make you laugh or screw up your inflated expectations.
Here are some examples with descriptions that match what they show.
Called a “robot healer” by iStock, the only thing this robo-doc can do is cause nightmares.
Have you thought digitalization or AI will make access to medical data easier? You wish. You will need strong hands and legs when looking for the right information as the screens will get much bigger.
Hey, surgeons, this is your future. So if you ask yourself how you will make a precise cut wearing VR Googles, don’t worry. In this case, the patient is not important. But, hopefully, the scalpel is also “smart.”
“A depressed woman is exceedingly agitated at the first encounter with a virtual psychotherapist”—says an original description of this photo. This is how digital mental health looks like. And seriously—such images should be handled by the medical societies as they are simply harmful.
Eventually, one day the roles switch. The primary description of this photo: “Telemental health patient suffering depression prefers consulting psychiatrist from his office.” Telepsychology is so easy—it’s enough that the doctor shows good advice, like “forgive others.”
In the digital age, your doctor will not only come out to you from a monitor but also hold your avatar at hand. Technology is genuinely bringing healthcare closer to the patient.
Surprise! The doctor can also come out of your smartphone…
Medicine doctor working with modern computer interface—suggests the photo description. Navigating an electronic patient record with a globe is what physicians have long dreamed of. Or maybe it’s global digital health? Or cross-border medicine?
Medical technology meets gene therapy and electronic medical record. This is the vision of personalized medicine where data are well-structured, allowing doctors to make the most complex medical decision in a flash. By the way… the screen brightness can be reduced.
Doctors will love their computers again. Finally, they will gain more time for what’s essential—communication with co-workers.
There is also some bad news regarding the digital transformation. EHRs will be digitized to the point that you will likely get lost in digital files and need your old notebook and pen back.
In the medicine of the future, friendly-looking humanoids will provide you with data on a platter. Literally. By the way, do you also find it intriguing why hexagonal shapes appear so often in these graphics?
Even stethoscopes will fly between the doctor’s hands.
Here is a recipe for a perfect illustration presenting digital health: take some medicine-related photos and connect them with lines that symbolize some kind of data exchange concept. It always works.
It is said that computers will save doctors time. If you learn to use two computers at once, you can reduce the time spent on administrative tasks by 50%. It’s that simple.
Physicians will possess superhero skills—for example, data juggling. Doctor Strange has a lot to learn.
As a doctor, you’ll love the user-friendly interface designed by UX/UI experts, in close collaboration with doctors of course. More and more data at your fingertips.
Technology will improve the patient-doctor relationship. Wait…what technology? If you feel confused, here is the original description of the photo: “Dentist and patient looking AT a digital dental x-ray.”
I am convinced that this is the future of medicine that we are all looking forward to.
But before you benefit from all these technological advancements, you still have to struggle with reality. So if there are some technical problems during teleconsultation, just use your good old phone.
Do you have some favorite stock photos that show the real face of digital health? Please share them on LinkedIn >
I have a small favour to ask…
This content is free of charge. This website is free of commercials. Please support aboutDigitalHealth.com (€1+). It only takes a minute. Thank you!