There are many industries at the forefront of technology, but none more so than medicine. Even though we experienced a fluke worldwide pandemic (no other way to put it) this year, there are countless ways in which the medical community is ensuring that our lives are fuller and last longer. Let’s have a look at 7 of them:
1. Artificial intelligence
AI has the genuine potential of redesigning the medical field completely. AI algorithms can search a patient’s medical history in record time, in a field where time is of the essence so often. Such algorithms are also able to design treatment plans faster than any medical professional. Supercomputers are used to advance healthcare, from designing new drugs to perfecting medical imaging as well as putting worldwide medical cases and examples at the fingertips of those that need it.
2. Virtual reality
The importance of VR advancement cannot be stressed enough. From training future surgeons to allowing actual surgeons to practice complex procedures. In a recent Harvard Business Review study it showed that VR-trained surgeons had an incredible 230% boost in their overall performance compared to their traditionally-trained counterparts. The former was also faster and more accurate in performing surgical procedures. VR technology is also benefiting patients and has been proven to be effective in pain management when equipped with VR headsets patients can distract themselves from painful stimuli, which is also improving the overall hospital experience.
3. Augmented reality
AR differs greatly from VR in two main aspects: (1) users do not lose touch with reality, and (2) information is put into the line of sight as fast as possible. These distinct differences give AR an edge in the future of medicine on both the healthcare providers’ side, as well as patients’. In the case of medical professionals, just like VR, it could help students prepare better for real-life situations and could also enable surgeons to better their skills.
4. Healthcare trackers, wearables and sensors
The future of healthcare is obviously very closely connected to empowering patients and individuals monitoring their own health through available tech, thus health trackers and the like play a big role in the advancement of medicine as a whole. The myriad of devices available makes it possible for people to empower themselves and make more informed decisions when it comes to their own health.
5. Genome sequencing
US-based DNA sequencing company, Illumina, is hard at work to ensure that one day soon, you’ll be able to have a genetic test done for cheaper than a blood test. What does this mean? You’ll be able to know valuable information about your medical makeup, i.e. your drug sensitivity, genetic medical conditions etc. Such information could prove to be invaluable in taking preventative action and prolonging your vital health.
One of the fastest-growing and most exciting fields in healthcare currently is robotics. From developing a range of robot companions through to surgical robots or exoskeletons. The uses for exoskeletons are countless, from helping nurses lift elderly patients to assisting patients with spinal cord injuries, the technology truly is astounding! In 2019 an ExoChair, a robotic chair designed to support the lower limbs and pelvic region helping to reduce fatigue and improve efficiency among workers who stand for prolonged periods, was used in a 12-hour surgery in Russia.
The concept of “printing” bio tissues, artificial limbs, blood vessels, pills etc. might seem foreign to some, but for a group of researchers in New York, it’s just another day at the office. In November 2019 they successfully developed a method to 3D-print living skin along with accompanying blood vessels. Needless to say, how profound this research would be in the area of skin grafts for burn victims. Another area in which 3D-printing is doing amazing work is by 3D-prints of prosthetics for refugees from war-torn countries, giving them a new lease on life.
I think we can all agree that medical technology has come a long way. From the first successful heart transplant in 1967 to controversially coming up with a vaccine for a worldwide pandemic in 2020. What’s next?