One of the biggest beneficiaries of technology is the field of medicine. Whether it’s 3D printing that helps with the quick and low-cost production of prosthetics and implants, or GPS and other data-monitoring tools that help hospital administrators identify and address problems concerning efficiency, technology plays a key role in providing not just highly effective medical tools and medications, but also giving patients the best possible healthcare solutions.
Here are just some of the technological developments over the past few years that has changed the face of healthcare for both doctors and their patients.
Robotics and Surgical Power Tools
Robotics has various applications in medicine and healthcare, including both robot-assisted and remote surgeries, rehabilitation, pharmacological development, and disinfection. The latter is especially important in preventing the spread of disease and contamination of medication and equipment. All of these processes are made easier and more precise with the help of different kinds of robots.
Meanwhile, surgical power tools are valuable in providing optimal surgical outcomes in shorter times. With the help of high-performance, high-precision mini motors,these tools help doctors drill or cut through bones, make precise incisions, and remove the exact amount of tissue without injuring the entire organ, among other purposes. Their capability to withstand high temperatures also make these mini motors an ideal component in medical implements that need to be sterilized multiple times to prevent contamination of both humans and objects.
Nanotechnology may sound like the product of science fiction, but it has been, in fact, in widespread use in the medical and healthcare industries for years now. For example, silver nanoparticles are infused in wound dressings to promote faster healing and are also used as contrast agents in tumor imaging. On the other hand, quantum dots made from standard semiconductor materials are used in place of radioisotopes for medical diagnoses.
But apart from just imaging applications, nanoparticles are also valuable in treating diseases by delivering drugs or other substances directly to target cells. Nanoparticles are engineered so that they are attracted only to the diseased cells, say cancer cells, which allows direct treatment and prevents or reduces damage to healthy cells. These nanoparticles may also help with the early detection of diseases. Nanobots that bond with body tissues like muscles and nerves in order to repair them are also being explored.
The Human Genome Project, which aims to not just map but also understand the complete array of human genes, is just the beginning of an era of personalized medicine, where patients can get customized therapies based on their gene structures. This, theoretically, ensures optimum effectivity of treatments.
It may be a controversial topic, but the potential of genomics and genetics is almost limitless as long as it is used carefully and conscientiously. One specific example is the case of a little boy saved by geneticist Stephen Kingsmoreand his team, who applied rapid genetic sequencing to identify mutations in the boy’s and his parents’ genomes. This allowed the boy’s doctors to administer drugs that helped address the condition.
Whether it’s an accessory that you can attach to an analog stethoscope, which provides both analog and digital sounds that can be transmitted through Bluetooth and to the cloud, or a simple microscope that has a digital viewing screen for better visualization and observation, digitalization has helped improve the diagnostic process.
At home, patients can also make use of instruments such as digital blood pressure monitors and glucometers to help keep track of their health even outside a hospital or clinic. This, in turn, guides them to seek medical attention whenever the situation warrants to prevent worst-case scenarios.
Medical wearables take it a notch higher than FitBit and other fitness devices. These are wearable sensors that work like biometric tattoos and even digestible sensors that monitor important health parameters like temperature and blood biomarkers, 24/7. These sensors can alert medical systems once they detect any irregularities, and can even call for an ambulance to the patient’s location immediately. With the sensors’ capability to transmit medical information to the cloud, the medical personnel in the ambulance will already be informed of all the relevant data they need to attend to the patient’s most immediate needs.
The future of medicine lies not just in the hands of medical professionals who practice the craft. It is also supported by various technological developments and medical research that continue to evolve over the years, with the help of the academe, the scientific community, and the patients themselves.