New technological advancements in the healthcare industry are revolutionizing the way doctors administer patient care and expanding the range of treatment options for patients. Doctors can provide more patient-centric, customizable care based on a patient’s specific condition or ailment as opposed to a one-size-fits-all solution.
As life expectancy increases, patients will demand successful treatment options for diseases traditionally associated with old age. Researchers need to continue working hard to meet this demand. Here are five advances in healthcare technology we have seen in 2017 that push us closer to these goals.
1. Improvements in Bioelectronics
Doctors are using electronic equipment to regulate signals inside the body. Multiple diseases are caused by improper communication along nerves. Traditionally, medications have been used to try to treat these faulty signals. Rather than rely on medications, small implants could regulate irregular signals internally, which would reduce or eliminate the need for medication or prescription drugs.
Diseases that could be treated with this technology include those resulting from inflammatory responses, such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. Before implementation, electronic implants would undergo rigorous testing in a sanitary environment to ensure the required safety protocol is being met. Once finalized and approved, consumers could save time and money by avoiding regular pharmacy visits for pricey prescriptions.
2. Augmented Reality Healthcare Education
Augmented reality provides medical students the opportunity to study anatomy without relying solely on cadavers. Portions of the human body can be represented by composite imagery based on scans from patients. Students can then view the imagery close-up, from all angles, and study the specifics of how it is situated and connected to the body as a whole.
Medical students studying surgical procedures can also benefit from augmented reality. Afflicted organs can be viewed outside of the body before surgery is performed to determine the best approach for removing compromised areas. This can reduce the amount of tissue removed from a patient’s body and ensure all affected tissue is removed.
3. Boom in Internet of Things
Major players in the healthcare industry are investing in the internet of things, known as the IoT, to meet increased patient demand for seamless healthcare monitoring options. The IoT offers patients a more convenient method of monitoring, recording and tracking their treatment.
Results can be shared directly with doctors via cloud technology. Patients can save time and money by reducing the number of times they need to visit a doctor for check-ups. Physicians can also track how well patients adhere to a treatment plan. Rural communities or elderly patients who are unable to drive to a doctor’s office will have more healthcare options.
In addition, the internet of things also helps improve patient safety by improving the production of medical devices. Assembling and testing electronic medical equipment in a sanitary environment is crucial to patient safety. The FDA has regulations in place to maintain these standards. Patients benefit since the internet of things helps improve manufacturing efficiency, which gives doctors the opportunity to save more lives.
4. 3D Printed Drugs You Can Make at Home
Imagine the convenience of printing a customized prescription at home. This idea might not be that far off. 3D printing has advanced to the point where researchers are perfecting the technology needed to print replicas of organs, body parts and arteries. Customized prescription drugs with specific doses best suited to individual patients may not be that far off.
Although patients would reap the benefits of this technology, pharmaceutical companies would need to revalue their business plan. This could include providing the printers patients and doctors would need to create their custom medications.
5. Introduction of Leadless Pacemakers
Traditional pacemakers use wires that are connected to muscles to treat certain heart conditions involving irregular rhythms. The components of conventional pacemakers, including the wires and the generator, have been shown to cause complications in approximately 10% of patients. Patients also need to undergo surgery for implantation, which is invasive and can lead to scarring.
Leadless pacemakers don’t require the same generator or wires used by traditional models, which reduces the potential for future complications. Another benefit is the implantation method. A leadless pacemaker can be implanted using a catheter, which eliminates the need for a surgical procedure. Patients can have full upper body modality following the implant, unlike with a traditional pacemaker.
The recent advancements in healthcare technology provide hope that the increasing demand for medical professionals and flexible treatment options will soon be met.