Just a few of many healthcare technology innovations we will see in the future.
It is no hidden fact that we are living in a Tech savvy world and we are constantly looking for new methods to reduce our work load and prefer having everything at the tips of our fingers. We constantly rely on technology to function throughout our day to day activities and wherever you look you will see technology. Technology is constantly evolving and getting better, many industries have started leaning towards using more and more technology to make processes better and more efficient. The healthcare indusrty is one that has seen an advancement in the type of technologies used. From the introduction of robots during surgeries to growing organs on a petri dish, technology has been taking over healthcare at a rapid pace. Let’s talk about some of these tech innovations to keep an eye on in the near future.
Firstly, one of the more fascinating but highly controversial innovations of all, the ability to grow human organs in petri dishes. From kidney’s to potentially stop dialysis to an ear for the hearing impaired. With the help of innovative technology, scientists have been able to figure out a way in which to successfully grow human organs on a petri dish in a lab and then possibly place them back on the human patient in need. It is not plastic surgery, in fact, it could be a lifesaving, life altering chance for patients in need of these organs. Scientists have recently demonstrated a successful growth of a beating heart on a petri dish, so this recent discovery holds high hopes for other successful organ growths. By using stem cells from the patient, scientists can grow the organ they need and replace the damaged organ in the patient’s body. This will not only reduce the long waiting list for organ transplants, but it will also increase the chances for the patients’ body successfully accepting the new organ. This new method can guarantee that the patients’ body will accept the new organ and hopefully won’t cause problems to the patient. This innovation is highly controversial due to religious beliefs.
Another similar form of technology is using Nano filters that are designed to act as an artificial kidney which might soon replace dialysis. This innovation will make the lives of kidney patients a lot easier as they won’t have to constantly go to the hospital to get dialysis. This ‘Nano’ filter is the size of a small cup, roughly around the size of an actual kidney; it is made from silicon and performs the jobs that an actual kidney would do. This device would be inserted near the kidney and hooked on to both the blood supply and the bladder. The group has announced that human trials are on the agenda during this decade, so we hope to see results soon.
A second technology innovation similar to this is the creation of the artificial pancreas. This will enable patients with diabetes to stop having to constantly checking their blood glucose levels and having to administer insulin to help regulate them. The artificial pancreas is designed to measure blood glucose levels every 5 minutes and administer the correct dosage of insulin automatically if the blood glucose levels drop and glucagon if the blood glucose levels are too high. All this is designed to be done with limited human interaction. Initially, the creators wanted to tackle the problem of already existing monitoring devices not being able to wake up patients to take their dosage. The artificial pancreas works in 4 simple steps. Firstly, the CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) sensor is inserted under the skin, this is then followed by minute to minute data being sent to the CGM sensor, which then translates the reading from USB to the Bluetooth. The Control Algorithm Device (CAD) receives readings which are then analysed by an algorithm and the correct dosage of insulin is calculated. The insulin pump receives this information regarding the dosage and a cannula under the skin then administers the correct dose.
Another technology is TempTraq, making temperature measurements easier for sick children. This is a patch like smart device that you can stick on your baby and it will do the rest of the work for you. The smart device will monitor the body temperature 24/7 and send the data directly to your phone. No more hassling your child if they are sleeping, no more difficulties trying to get your child to sit still while you take their temperature. This new device will not only make your life easier, it will also keep your mind at ease as you will be able to know your child’s temperature always. This is just one of many wearable health monitors we can look forward to. Another one is the chest strap, a discrete easy to hide strap that will monitor your health. These tiny straps will continuously use the sensors to record clinically accurate ECG, heart rate, skin temperature and other data which can be shared directly to medical professionals or synced to an app for your own viewing. This idea was approved by CES in 2015 and as of April 2017 the first of its lucky users have been able to get their hands on it. This is not all for wearable health monitors, as technology improves these monitors are becoming smaller and more discrete but improving the accuracy of the monitoring. Biometric tattoos can transmit medical information discreetly. This works by implanting a Radio Frequency Identification chip under the skin to serve as an identification device, these sensors will then measure your health 24 hours a day transmitting data to the cloud and it is also able to send alert to medical systems in case of a stroke. It can actually call the ambulance itself, potentially protecting the person’s life.
Surgical Robots have been taking over the medical industry for a while now. The da Vinci Surgical System has been around for a while and boasts a magnified 3D high-definition vision system and has small instruments that can bend more than a human hand, this allows surgeons to operate more precisely than ever thought possible with a few simple incisions. The da Vinci now has a real competitor in the form of the collaboration of Google and Johnson & Johnson who have announced that they will be creating a new surgical robot system. This new robot has four arms that are attached overhead, meaning it can be repositioned without the need to undock the robot. It communicates in a new way allowing for automatic repositioning. Robotic Surgery is allowing doctors to perform minimally – invasive surgery with complete control over the machine. These machines also allow expert surgeons to perform procedures via tele-manipulation. Robotic surgeries are designed to provide the patient with minimal discomfort and help the patient heal as quickly as possible as there are minimal incisions.
Clinical Trials have a lengthy procedure before medicine can be available for us to use. Right from the get go of recieving an approval on the propsal and looking for investigators, to then carrying out the recruitment for the patients and their participation, followed by the data collection, statistical analysis and the presenting and publishing of the reports, the whole process of a clinical trial takes about 10 to 15 years before the medicine can be available in the patient's hand. This can cost a hefty amount and uses up a lot of time. With Artificial Intelligence (AI) the time and costs of clinical trials can be cut by more than a half. A task that would take humans weeks or months to do would take minutes when using AI. Not only this, AI can help predict drug effectiveness as it treats a human gene with all the collaborating qualities. This makes it conceivable to predict which patients with a particular disease would benefit most with a drug. Professionals have used AI to create a web based app which correctly assigns cancer patients to the correct trials within 15 to 30 minutes and is able to add new trials within 10 to 20 minutes. AI helps reduce the cost of recruitment and the Clinical Trial whilst making the process a lot quicker.
Technology will continue to improve as time goes on. With new innovations, processes within the healthcare industries will become more effective for a fraction of the time we currently spend. From wearables to surgical equipment, technology is rapidly taking over the health industry. This article has mentioned only a few of the new healthcare and technology innovations to keep an eye out for, with many more out there the healthcare technology will never be the same again.