September 26, 2020 - by Mudita Lakhanpal, Webmedy team
In today's world, technology plays an important role in every industry as well as in our personal lives. Out of all of the industries that technology plays a crucial role in, healthcare is definitely one of the most important. This merger is responsible for improving and saving countless lives all around the world.
The present healthcare system is essentially a sick-care system, built in the middle of the last century. Although there's been tremendous progress on medical diagnosis and treatments, care delivery hasn't structurally changed much.
Here we start a future with technologies where patients and doctors are fully connected.
Virtual reality (VR) is changing the lives of patients and physicians alike. VR technologies are focusing on counseling, pain management, telemedicine, surgical training, occupational therapy, and several other applications. VR is being used to train future surgeons and for actual surgeons to practice operations. Such software programs are developed and provided by companies like Osso VR and Immersive Touch and are in active use with promising results.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) is being adopted in diagnostics, EHR analytics, synthesizing information from a range of sources (scientific papers, journals, and patient medical records), and remote monitoring of patients using wearable devices.
Atom wise uses supercomputers that root out therapies from a database of molecular structures. They found 2 drugs for the Ebola virus. Google's Deep Mind created an AI system for breast cancer analysis. These are only two of the many examples of companies using AI to advance healthcare from designing new drugs to disrupting medical imaging to mining medical records.
Augmented reality (AR) is one of the biggest technology trends right now. AR lets us see the real-life environment right in front of us. Augmented reality differs from Virtual Reality (VR) in two respects: users do not lose touch with reality and it puts information into eyesight as fast as possible. These distinctive features enable AR to become a driving force in the future of medicine; both on the care provider and the care receiver side.
Drug development comprises all the activities involved in transforming a compound from drug candidate (the end-product of the discovery phase) to a product approved for marketing by the appropriate regulatory authorities.
Currently, the process of developing new drugs is too long and too expensive. However, there are ways to improve drug development with methods ranging from artificial intelligence to in silico trials. Such new technologies and approaches already are and will be dominating the pharmaceutical landscape in the years to come. Companies like Turbine, Recursion Pharmaceuticals, and Deep Genomics are leveraging the power of AI to develop new drug candidates and novel therapeutic solutions in record time and speed up the time to market, all while saving costs and lives.
As the future of medicine and healthcare is closely connected to the empowerment of patients as well as individuals taking care of their own health through technologies, I cannot leave out health trackers, wearables, and sensors from my selection. They are great devices to get to know more about ourselves and retake control over our own lives. This will support more personalized medicine where treatment will be individually tailored to the patient.
I use Fit bit Ionic to monitor my sleep and track my workout and I supplement it with the Polar H10 to fine-tune my workout routines with my trainer so as to find the best exercises for my abilities. The beauty of these new tech-fueled devices is that they really make patients the point-of-care.
We are living at the dawn of the nanomedicine age. I believe that nanoparticles and nanodevices will soon operate as precise drug delivery systems, cancer treatment tools, or tiny surgeons. Using nanotechnology, scientists can ensure drugs are delivered to specific areas in the body with greater precision, and the drugs can be formulated so that the active ingredient better permeates cell membranes, reducing the required dose.
One of the most exciting and fastest-growing fields of healthcare is robotics. Robots in medicine help by relieving medical personnel from routine tasks that take their time away from more pressing responsibilities and by making medical procedures safer and less costly for patients. They can also perform accurate surgery in tiny places and transport dangerous substances.
Robotics companies also have their place in healthcare to help alleviate loneliness, treat mental health issues, or even help children with chronic illness. The Jibo, Pepper, Paro, and Buddy robots are all existing examples.
3D-printing can bring wonders in all aspects of healthcare. We can now print bio tissues, artificial limbs, pills, blood vessels, and the list goes on and will likely keep on doing so. In 2019, researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York developed a method to 3D-print living skin along with blood vessels. This development proves crucial for skin grafts for burn victims. Also, helping patients in need are NGOs like Refugee Open Ware and Not Impossible which 3D-print prosthetics for refugees from war-torn areas.
Advancements in medical technology have allowed physicians to better diagnose and treat their patients since the beginning of the professional practice of medicine. Thanks to the continuous development of technology in the medical field, countless lives have been saved and the overall quality of life continues to improve over time.