Technology plays a huge role in improving the lives of patients across the world. However, for MedTech to be optimally effective, cooperation among patients, medical professions, and the technology is necessary. In healthcare and medicine, digital technology has proved effective in the transformation of unsustainable systems into sustainable ones.
This article explores the advancements of healthcare innovations over the years and how these technologies apply in today’s medical world.
AI is already reforming the healthcare industry. AI algorithms are capable of mining medical records, creating drugs, and designing treatment plans faster than medical professionals.
In 2015, for example, Atomwise launched a search engine for existing safe medications that could be redesigned to treat or manage Ebola, and they successfully found two drugs suggested to reduce Ebola infectivity. Google DeepMind recently created an AI algorithm for breast cancer analysis, which outperformed human radiologist by 11.5%.
VR has proven to be invaluable in the health sector, and it’s changing the lives of physicians and patients alike. This technology is being used to train future surgeons to practice operations. There are numerous VR programs in active use and with promising results.
According to the Harvard Business Review, surgeons trained using VR had a 230% boost in their performance compared to traditionally-trained surgeons. The former were also more accurate and faster when performing surgical procedures.
When applied to patients, virtual reality has proven to be an effective pain management approach. Women equipped with virtual reality headsets experienced less labor pain. VR also helps in managing post-surgery, neurological, gastrointestinal, and cardiac pain.
Healthcare Wearable, Trackers and Sensors
With advancements in medical technology, individuals can manage and control their health using health wearable, sensors, and trackers. These devices have proven to be effective tools for one to assess and take control of his/her health.
Regardless of whether you intend to manage your stress levels, cognitive capabilities, weight, or overall fitness, there are devices capable of tracking all these needs for you. With people monitoring their health and sharing the results remotely with a physician, they are better placed to make informed decisions and take control of their health.
The U.S government invested $2.7 billion in the Human Genome Projects! In 2017, Illumina, which is a leading DNA sequencing company, unveiled a machine capable of ordering up the entire human genome.
With genome testing and sequencing, you can learn about your monogenic and multifactorial health conditions, your family medical history, and your drug sensitivity.
Fields such as dietetics, genomics, nutrigenomics, and the cross-field or nutrition are already leveraging on genome sequencing. Habit, a California-based company, is offering customized diets based on their clients’ genetic codes.
Revolutionizing Drug Development
The process of drug development is currently too expensive and time-consuming. This process can be improved, simplified and accelerated using technologies such as in silico trials and artificial intelligence. These technologies are already in play in the pharmaceutical industry.
Companies such as Deep Genomics, Recursion Pharmaceuticals, and Turbine are already using artificial intelligence to develop novel therapy solutions and new drug candidates in record time, speed up marketing time while saving lives and costs. There are medical apps that apply AI to assess HIPAA compliance as outlined in Yalantis.com.
In silico trials individualized digital simulations are used in the regulatory evaluation and development of medical products, interventions, and devices. While the current biological understanding and technology do not allow fully simulated clinical trials, there is substantial progress in this field.
Hammond, a mathematical model for human physiology, is already in application on research projects. The Virtual Physiological Human Institute (VPH) is also applying virtual models to study osteoporosis and heart diseases.
In the future, it will be possible to test thousands of potential drugs on a class of virtual patient models in record time.
We are currently in the nanomedicine age. In 2014, Max Planck Institute researchers designed microbots that can swim through the body’s fluids. Nanochips such as the PillCam are already being used in a patient-friendly and non-invasive manner for colon examination.
In 2018, researchers from MIT created electronic pills that can be controlled remotely to release drugs or relay diagnostic information at the press of a button. Nanotechnology is also being applied in smart patches.
During CES 2020, Grapheal, a French-based firm, demonstrated a smart patch that is capable of continuously monitoring wounds and simulating wound healing.
With advancements in technology, nanotechnology will soon have a central place in medicine. Nanodevices and nanoparticles are proving to be an effective drug delivery option, cancer treatment tools and remotely-operated capsules are capable of making nano-surgery a reality.
This happens to be the fastest growing and most exciting field in healthcare. Innovations range from disinfectant robots/ exoskeletons, pharmabotics, surgical robots to robot companions.
In 2019, a tetraplegic man managed to control an exoskeleton with his brain, and Europe witnessed its first successful exoskeleton aided surgery. Other applications of medical robots include helping nurses lift elderly patients and aiding patients with spine injuries.
Robot companions are in use to help treat mental health conditions, alleviate loneliness, and help kids with chronic illnesses. Some of these medbots come with touch sensors, microphones, and cameras to help users interact with them.
Ikki, an Australian company, for instance, is helping kids with chronic diseases monitor their temperature, breathing rate, and medications while entertaining them with stories and music.
This technology is already in use printing artificial limbs, biotissues, blood vessels, pills, and more. In 2019, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute researchers designed a method of 3D printing living skin with blood vessels. This innovation is proving vital for skin grafting burn victims.
War victims will also benefit from 3D printed prosthetics. With the FDA approving 3D printed drugs since 2015, pharmaceutical companies are significantly benefiting from this technology. Researchers are currently working on 3D printing polypills, which are multi-layered drugs that will help patients follow through with therapeutic plans.
With the advent of digital health, the healthcare industry is experiencing a revolutionary phase. Technology has significantly improved healthcare and made life easier for patients and medical professionals. More innovations are underway!