Continuing where I left off, in my last post…
When people experience any new technology for the first time, a common reaction is to start imagining all the different uses the technology might hold. Even within one industry, healthcare, the potential is vast. The good thing is that scientists and medical professionals have been at the drawing board for years now, developing and implementing different technologies. Technologies, which have been a success in different day to day activities, in ways that can help them train, diagnose, and treat in myriad situations.
Let’s have a look at the other 5 technologies in the list:
There is huge research and development going on for application of Robotic Technology in the Medical field. With the growing number of elderly patients, introducing robot assistants to take care of them at homes and hospitals will be a great boon. It could be a fair solution from moving patients to performing basic procedures.
The TUG robot is a robust device, able to carry around a multitude of racks, carts or bins up to 453 kilograms that contain medications, laboratory specimens or other sensitive materials. Riba or Robot for Interactive Body Assistance is somewhat similar to the TUG robot, however it is rather used at homes with care patients who need assistance. Its Japanese version, the Robear is shaped as a giant, gentle bear with a cartoonish head. They both can lift and move patients in and out of bed into a wheelchair, help patients to stand, and to turn them to prevent bed sores as many times as you want.
There are about a thousand DaVinci surgical robots around the world. Medical schools such as the on in Washington started to teach skills to future surgeons which are needed to control the robot instead of manually performing the operation.
InTouch Health develops acute care tele medical robots to let the physician be where it is needed at least virtually.
Internet of Things – Internet of Health Things at home:
We all know how successful is IoT in all those fields where it has been implemented till date. Wearable technologies have IoT only at its base. Scientists are working on connecting all our day to day life objects to the Internet and in turn to the app which will analyze them to give conclusions. Presently we can see the application of IoT in many different forms as Equipment monitoring, Remote Diagnostic, Food sensors and much more. These are all working independently with their independent apps. They are very small examples of IoT but not the true complete application of it in which the data input from one device would be used by other to make decisions.
The long term goal is to make these devices communicate and learn from each other. This way we have to analyze the data of the devices ourselves, but the device manufacturers could merge their findings and share a digestible report with us when there is something to take care of.
Wearables and Real Time Data:
2015 was the year of wearable health trackers. With these devices, we even needed clever apps for gaining actionable insights from the constant stream of data made available by these wearable devices. That is not easy. We need clever algorithms that merge data from several devices and apps, and help us draw meaningful conclusions. It would help lay people put more emphasis on prevention and have a healthier lifestyle.
Presently we have a huge range of devices that measure easily quantifiable data, but the future belongs to digestible and wearable sensors that can work like a thin e-skin. Biometric tattoos such as VivaLNK’s e-Skin Tattoo can transmit medical information discreetly. RFID or Radio Frequency Identification chips can be implanted under the skin and serve as an identification device.
Sensors like this will measure all important health parameters related to temperature, blood biomarkers and neurological symptoms. And 24 X 7 it would transmit data to the cloud and will send alerts to medical systems when a stroke is happening in real time. It will call the ambulance itself and sends all the related data immediately.
It is not just about checking and monitoring vital signs but intervention is also the key to a better health. Imagine tooth-embedded sensors that can recognize jaw movements, coughing, speaking and even smoking so it records when you eat too much or smoke no matter what the doctor told you. It’s going to be extremely hard not to follow the doctor’s pieces of advice. Imagine the same wireless technology used in organs providing real-time data.
Use of cloud services has taken off across countless industries. Adoption of cloud computing in healthcare has taken place a little more tentatively, as providers sort out how they can benefit from cloud offerings and how much of their operations they can afford to transfer to the cloud. EHRs, analytics and imaging systems are a few areas in which healthcare providers have found success with cloud deployments.
Image sharing, analytics and virtual desktop infrastructures are a few services that could see their ties with cloud in healthcare strengthened in the coming years. Healthcare analysts have found working with cloud systems gives them access to more current data and allows them to return more meaningful insights to their organizations.
A new term that we are coming across these days is “Empowered Patients”. The whole social media era played a huge role in the initiation of the so-called Empowered Patient or the Participatory Healthcare Movement.
Medical communication is something that affects all patients and medical professionals worldwide. If social media platforms are used in a proper way than these could act as a potential “mind-machine” for sharing, crowdsourcing, storing medial pieces of information either for e-patients or medical professionals. Through this, patients can get access to all the information that were only available for medical professionals before. Not just that, they can get connected to other patients dealing with similar problems.
I see enormous technological changes heading our way. If they hit us unprepared, which we are now, they will wash away the medical system we know and leave it a purely technology–based service without personal interaction. Such a complicated system should not be washed away. Rather, it should be consciously and purposefully redesigned piece by piece. If we are unprepared for the future, then we lose this opportunity. I think we are still in time and it is still possible.
The advances of technology do not have to mean the end of the human touch. Instead, the beginning of a new era when both are crucial.
If you think this is all science fiction, it is not. This is the place where emerging technology is leading us to right now. It is only a matter of time until the needs of today are realized by the technology of tomorrow. The only trick is to live long enough to see this unfold.