Innovations you'll be hearing about in the years to come.
Technology is giving new meaning to modern medicine. From wearables to the cloud, technology innovations are attempting to disrupt an industry with plenty of hurdles to overcome as it is.
“ Innovations are attempting to disrupt an industry with plenty of hurdles to overcome as it is.”
Some might even have the promise of moving us from a reactive to a much more proactive care model.
Here’s a look at five high-tech trends reshaping healthcare you’ll likely be hearing more about in the years to come.
The already ubiquitous wearable devices or fitness-trackers could pave the way for even more data-collecting options such as enhanced smart clothing—wearable garments with the built-in ability to monitor vital signs.
Just like wearables, smart clothing has the potential to drastically change how critical or chronic patients are monitored in their home environment.
Hospitals are already leveraging data from wearables to better understand daily patterns of younger patients with diabetes.
It isn’t difficult to imagine the seamless integration of wearable data with your electronic health record (EHR) — offering you and care providers a more complete picture of your health in order to be more proactive and help stave off disease.
Look for 3D printing to play a growing role in healthcare. With the potential to radically transform the way medical devices, including prosthetics, are used to treat patients, 3D printing does have obstacles to overcome, particularly due to FDA regulations.
One of the more promising developments is bioprinting, or printing of human tissue by depositing cells layer-by-layer to grow organs.
This is significant because the initial application would be ideal for clinical trials since it would speed up drug development and lower costs.
But given the lack of sufficient safeguarding through studies and government approvals, the mass impacts of bioprinted organs are still a ways off.
Meanwhile, surgeons last fall used a 3D printer to make an exact replica of a 3 1/2-year-old’s heart to devise a successful plan for surgery.
Another application with significant promise is in 3D printed prosthetics since they offer customization options for children and their cost is considerably less than top-of-the-line versions.
Precision or ‘personalized’ medicine shows promise because of improvements being made in genetic testing.
Athletes have been some of the earliest adopters of personal genomics to gain genetic insights into their physiological potential. But progress is also being made on the frontlines of treating aggressive diseases.
Just a decade ago, treatment options for cancer only had first- or second-line options before there was no course of action.
Advanced cancer patients getting treatment at major centers can have their tumors sequenced to find a drug that will precisely target the mutation.
Although costly and still hit and miss, this tailored approach certainly seems to be the future of oncology.
Imagine a vacuum cleaner for your brain. It already exists, so to speak.
“ The landscape of modern medicine will continue to evolve.”
Just last year, watershed trials published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that mechanical thrombectomy offered superior outcomes compared with drug treatment alone, which was the standard of care.
Also, advances in neuroimaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance (fMRI), computerized tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET) could ultimately help with early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.
Currently, the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s centers on documenting mental decline. The hope is that more detailed high-tech imaging will help predict the onset of the disease and eventually offer prevention methods or strategies.
Molecular imaging technologies may help detect biological clues indicating Alzheimer’s has begun before the disease takes its toll.
Finally, there is artificial intelligence (AI). What might AI offer in the way of healthcare impact?
In the near term, medical imaging is likely to be the most practical application, particularly with the latest advancement called “deep learning,” which involves care providers analyzing medical imaging scans to identify hard-to-spot abnormalities in the body that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Imagine having the ability to pore over thousands of images to detect tumors in just minutes.
Further impacts of artificial intelligence could occur when it is applied to ‘big data’ in the cloud to assist clinicians by contrasting a patient’s characteristics — even down to their genome — against billions of equally detailed patient histories and the most up-to-date medical research (which won’t have to rely on expensive and time-consuming clinical trials).
Physicians will then create customized care plans and follow their patients’ progress with simple dashboards.
Not surprisingly, the technologies reshaping healthcare are also some of the same technologies impacting other industries, including automotive and industrial manufacturing. When it comes to healthcare, we’ve likely just scratched the surface of the vast possibilities of new, innovative methodologies.
One thing’s for sure, the landscape of modern medicine will continue to evolve, and the face of standard practice will look differently in the years to come as research and development through technology push what’s possible.
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Reprinted with permission of Longitudes, the UPS blog devoted to the trends shaping the global economy.