Technology has reshaped our lives as we know it, from the phones and computers we use all day to self-driving cars and CRISPR gene editing. It has assisted in the evolution of our world and continues to impact our lifestyles.
A century ago, who would have predicted that technology would take over?
And one of its most prominent impacts is in the healthcare sector. Healthcare is one of the most prioritized industries in the world and we already use technology to book appointments online and conduct basic MRI and PET scans.
But what if we took it a step further?
The future of healthcare is changing in front of our eyes as it advances with the use of emerging technology. Technology can and has done wonders for human healthcare and continues to revolutionize our perception of it. We at TABIIB would like to look at the 5 most prominent upcoming technologies and their impact on the healthcare industry.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial Intelligence. Usually, when someone brings this up, our mind goes straight to robots and cars, but there’s so much more to it. For starters, AI has the potential to redesign healthcare as we know it – for the better and here’s how. AI algorithms have the capacity to mine medical records, design custom treatment plans, create drugs at the fastest possible rate, provide data insights, conduct analytics predictions, and even enable robots to operate in medical treatments. The field of medical AI has been acquiring a lot of traction – and for good reason.
Google Health and DeepMind have tapped into AI’s potential in order to assist in cancer diagnosis and predicting patient outcomes. Recently, they produced an AI-oriented solution for the identification of breast cancer and guess what? The algorithm used exceeded the performance of human radiologists for breast cancer identification by an average of 11.5%.
They are currently experimenting with disease monitoring algorithms that include digital lenses that can detect blood sugar levels. Moreover, IBM has a dedicated health branch known as Watson Health that was established in order to use AI and provide its services to stakeholders within the healthcare sector. Watson Health has aided Mayo Clinic with their breast cancer clinical trials. They also helped Biorasi bring drugs to the market faster using cognitive computing – all while cutting costs by over 50%.
As you can see, AI has been really helpful and continues to be do so. Embracing this technology and engaging in its use will assist in the development of technology in the healthcare industry.
2. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
Virtual reality has been referred to as the medical future for far too long. VR is being used on an excessively common basis and has hit the field of medicine.
Virtual reality is being used to train surgeons to practice operations in real-time scenarios and have provided promising results. A Business Review study showed that VR-trained surgeons had a 230% boost in their overall performance, proving to be faster and more accurate in surgical procedures.
In addition to benefiting medical professionals, VR has proven to be essentially effective in benefiting patients in terms of pain management. Patients are provided with VR headsets to assist in enduring labor pain and post-surgical pain have shown to decline as the use of VR distracts patients from painful stimuli.
AR is a variant of VR that does not allow the user to lose touch with reality. Thus, it assists medical students to prepare for real-life operations and provides them with the required exposure. Medical students are provided with access to accurate virtual depictions of the human anatomy without the use of real bodies, providing a kinesthetic yet virtual experience.
Surgery can also be performed with higher efficiency with the use of augmented reality. Look at it this way. Surgeons can use augmented reality to study a patient’s anatomy. For instance, by inserting MRI data and scans into the AR headset, they can overlay a custom patient anatomy on the body before operating. This assists surgeons in visualizing the internal organs, muscles, and bones without cutting the body. Therefore resulting in performing relatively low-risk and accurate surgeries.
3. Genome Sequencing and CRISPR-Cas9 Genome Editing
Genome sequencing. Seems complicated doesn’t it? Well, in simple terms genome sequencing is nothing more than identifying the entire DNA sequence of an organism’s genome. Simple, yet quite complex.
A genome sequencing test has great potential and permits one to learn more about their body and genome structure. Information about drug sensitivity, multifactorial or monogenic medical conditions and much more can be revealed through this test.
Companies are creating personalized health plans and diets on the basis of an individual’s genetic code. Genome sequencing provides the patient with an insight on the nutrients they lack, conditions in which they are at risk and potential allergies and food tolerances.
Now that we know what genome sequencing is, what about genome editing? Sounds complex and cool doesn’t it? I mean, do doctors and scientists really have the power to alter our genetic code? Let’s take a look.
CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing is a genetic engineering technique in which genomes can be modified.
CRISPR is a family of DNA sequences found in the genomes of prokaryotic organisms. The RNA binds to the Cas9 enzyme and is used to recognize a DNA sequence. The enzyme is then used to cut the DNA at the targeted location.
CRISPR genome editing is known to have great potential in the treatment of diseases as this technique can fix defective DNA in human embryos, thus changing the initial DNA code and sequence.
4. Medical Tricorder
A medical tricorder.
Did you put it together yet?
Yes, the omnipotent and super cool medical device from Star Trek!
With advancements in technology and exponential progress in its development, the fictitious and perceived idea of a sci-fi device is finally coming to life.
What more could we possibly want?
We’re talking about an all-powerful, hand-held, portable device that scans patients, provides a data analysis and an accurate diagnosis!
This device is not available in the mass markets yet, but many researchers and scientists have come close to sealing the deal. With emerging medical technology, we can assume that a medical tricorder will be accessible to us in no time.
Till date, BioSticker, Viatom CheckMe Pro, and MedWand contain characteristics that assist in self-diagnosis. For instance, BioSticker is an FDA approved device that can measure respiratory and heart rates, skin temperatures and a continued series of parameters.
The Viatom CheckMe Pro measures ECG, oxygen saturation, heart rate, blood pressure and other similar factors.
Moreover, the MedWand contains a series of useful measuring features along with a camera for telemedical purposes.
As I mentioned earlier, we may not have achieved a replica of the sci-fi gadget in Star Trek, but are closer than ever to developing this portable and omnipotent, self-diagnosis device.
Finally, we have nanotech. Now, you must’ve heard about nanotechnology but what exactly is it?
Simply put, nanotechnology is the use of matter on a molecular scale.
So, how exactly does this benefit medicinal technology?
Nanomedicine is the term we’re going to be using since we’re getting technical.
In 2014, scallop-like microbots were designed to swim through a patient’s body fluids. The PillCam is an example of a miniature smart pill. These pills function in a non-invasive manner and are currently in use for colon testing and examination.
A few years later, researchers from MIT created an electronic pill that can be controlled wirelessly, release drugs and provide diagnostic information in response to simple smartphone commands.
Additionally, smart patches are being produced. A France based company recently introduced a smart patch that allows continuous monitoring of wounds. The graphene core present in the patch can stimulate wound healing.
Technology is constantly evolving and nanomedicine has greatly benefited the medical field. Soon, with the help of nanotechnology, we can expect pills that take biopsy samples and nano-surgeons operating. I mean, who knows what the future has in store for us.
From what we’ve seen, technology has reshaped and revolutionized the healthcare industry as we know it – mostly in a positive manner. Above were 5 of the most fascinating and astounding technologies that played an integral role in this revolution.
The healthcare industry is dynamic and ever-changing and with the introduction and development of new technology, we can expect wonders. Monitoring health has become easier, treatments for diseases are executed with minimal effort and concern, and well we’re at a stage where we can alter our genetic code. I mean, can it possibly get cooler than that?
Technology is evolving and healthcare is only one of the industries it has impacted. Developments and advancements will continue to arise and executing these forms of technology in human medicine takes our world a step closer to the future.