Is it really too much of a stretch to foresee the day when our own industry – and other health and health-related industries – gravitates towards these advances in technology?

An Opinion Piece by John Gonzales

McDonalds just announced (in part due to the escalating costs and pressures of a $15.00 minimum wage) that they are replacing front line employees with self-serve automated ordering stations. I can hear a Siri-like voice saying, “Would you like fries with that?”

With the rise in wearable technology, wireless and Bluetooth communication, ever-expanding Artificial Intelligence and life-like robotics, is it really too much of a stretch to foresee the day when our own industry – and other health and health related industries – gravitate towards these advances in technology until one day, in the not too distant future, your “human” community staff will go the way of 8 track and cassette tapes?

Improbable or Inevitable? Which do you vote for?

You don’t even have to use much of your imagination. Just google robotics or life-like robots and take a look at the future – strike that – the present. This is today’s world and it’s embrace, use and acceptance of integrated technology is expanding faster than the Starship Enterprise at Warp factor 7.  

Think about the children growing up in this world. What we used to view as “science fiction”, they see as normal – or even outdated. Heck, without my 16 year-old boy, I wouldn’t have wireless internet half the time, because he’s the only one who can diagnose and fix the issues we run into; and why wouldn’t he? This past summer, for “fun”, he built his own computer and set up his own server on which he hosts gaming parties. “Gaming Parties” for me used to mean Twister or Dungeons and Dragons. I don’t think he’s even met many of his gaming buddies in person.     

I was recently visiting with a friend whose son is in preschool. He was showing me the apps that the teacher uses to communicate – in real time – with parents about the progress and behavior of their children during the school day. On a side note, I found it very interesting that the apps and technology being used in today’s schools is so similar to that which is being used in our business.  

He then proudly showed me the tablet and apps his son uses to do his homework. Do you think this young lad will have any qualms about having his future elderly dad’s medications administered by an intelligent medication management-bot? Nope.   

“Driverless Cars?! You’re crazy!” said no one born after the year 2000.

So what do you think? Are we 2-5 years away from seeing this? 5-10? As the Chinese proverb goes, “May you live in interesting times.” I always thought this was meant to be a blessing, but the expression is more ironic, isn’t it?