Technologies are rapidly changing the health care industry by improving outcomes for patients and doctors alike. Here are six advancements that are already making an impact and will set a high standard for what’s possible in medicine.
The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is a branch of the connected devices that make up the Internet of Things. Doctors can use IoMT devices to monitor their patients remotely and potentially prevent medical crises from occurring between appointments. According to a Deloitte report, analysts anticipate the global market worth of the IoMT sector to surpass $158 billion in 2022. That’s not surprising, considering the abundant opportunities within the industry. Some devices can detect if people fall, potentially making it possible for older individuals or patients with balance impairments to live independently for as long as possible. Others give medication reminders, assisting patients in following doctors’ orders.
When a person feels unwell, driving to a doctor’s office, sitting in a waiting room surrounded by other sick people and potentially waiting for an hour or longer to get into the examination room are not attractive prospects. For those reasons and others, people are increasingly open to telemedicine visits that let them get assessed by physicians through remote apps. According to some sources, telemedicine visits could become the norm soon, especially in major cities. The companies offering so-called virtual visits often attract new patients by charging flat rates that are about the same prices as insurance co-pays.
It’s frustrating for everyone involved when patients receive the incorrect diagnoses. Physicians are typically well-trained and excellent at what they do, but recent research indicates artificial intelligence (AI) could help them find even more success when telling patients what’s wrong. A study published in Nature Medicine revealed AI was even more accurate than doctors when diagnosing pediatric ailments. It detected cases of problems like chicken pox and influenza with accuracy rates between 90 and 97 percent and had similar successes with cases of asthma. Scientists are also hard at work training AI algorithms to recognize mental illness with medical imaging data and other sources. AI won’t take over the role doctors play, but it could help people receive more efficient diagnoses.
Health care advancements fall short if they restrict treatments to people who live in developed countries or have plentiful resources. Fortunately, technology is improving access and affordability for medical treatments. Dr. Geoff Tabin is a leading speaker on the future of health care tech. He developed a cataract surgery program that has given sight-restoring surgeries to people in two dozen countries for about $25. Similarly, Nimmi Ramanujam, an engineering professor at Duke University, came up with a speculum-free way for women to do cervical checks on themselves outside of medical offices. The device, called the Callascope, could help prevent cervical cancer, especially in countries where women endure long waits to get screened at hospitals or go to providers who visually inspect the cervix without tools.
Losing a limb is a life-altering event, but numerous efforts are enhancing prosthetics to help wearers live life in ways that are as fulfilling as possible. Engineers at Johns Hopkins University created an electronic skin that restores the sense of touch to prosthetic users, letting them feel the shape and surface characteristics of an object, for example. There are also 3D-printed prosthetics that are much cheaper and faster to make than traditional options. As such technologies continue to improve, so will the possibilities for people who need artificial limbs..
The techniques used to administer drugs can directly affect patient outcomes by improving aspects such as patient compliance and absorption into the bloodstream. Health care providers should expect the drug delivery sector to continue to advance over the coming years. A company called Covestro introduced a new device that assists patients with proper self-administration of medications and gives them information such as when to take the next dose. It features a streamlined build and a lightweight material, making it convenient to use. Scientists also want to increase drug delivery outcomes while minimizing patient harm. Some efforts involve using nanoparticles to distribute therapeutic genes directly into cancer cells. Researchers think this option could lead to more targeted treatments that don’t interfere with non-affected parts of the body.