Just before our very sight, healthcare industry undergoes swift change by maintaining a consistent approach and we see widespread and successful innovation in technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Nanotechnology, VR/AR, 3D Printing and so forth, where work is still going on. Now, for healthcare professionals to stay relevant with changing tech scenario, it becomes imperative that they develop deep familiarity with such rapidly changing times and imbibe such technology in their practice, to reflect more clarity and precision in coming years.
1. Artificial intelligence Leads The Way:
The technology is potent enough to restructure the whole healthcare industry spanning the world, in its entirety. Such algorithms have been precise in classifying medical data, plot treatment schedules or can even be used to develop medicines even quicker and with precision.
In this regard, it is worth mentioning that Atomwise manages supercomputers in the most judicious manner simply to procure a set of therapies from mega record-set that molecular structures are teeming with. In 2015, this start-up won accolades when virtual search was set up by it, for the sole purpose of re-fashioning and re-compounding the available drugs which would be the best antidote for treating Ebola virus. Now, going as per AI triggered algorithms, two new drugs were founded which are likely to bring down Ebola infectivity while trials are still on.
In recent time, DeepMind, owned and organized by Google, crafted an AI enabled mechanism to detect and analyse breast cancer, after which, the performance of all human radiologists got mitigated by its speed which was 11.5% faster, when a handful of datasets were put under its lens.
Such are the 2 cases where AI has been brought in, by companies to pursue sophistication and precision in healthcare industry, ranging from new drug composition to breaking the traditional process of medical imaging to mine healthcare data. There is an increased number of such instances, clear and concrete and which simply drive us to foresee the kind of sophistication, future holds for us, on the heels of AI technology.
Such is the widely regarded tech mechanism, which has, owing to constant spells of innovation, is found to be life-changing, not only to patients but is also a handy tech-tool in loaded in healthcare professionals’ hands too. Not surprisingly, the day is not far when medical procedures are likely to be viewed right from lying in the hospital bed.
Truly so, VR is the technology that is used to ingrain promise among surgeons of tomorrow and the classy class of software is being developed by premium companies like Osso VR and Immersive Touch while the results are amenable and plausible too. Meanwhile, as per a study by Harvard Business Review conducted recently, surgeons, who learnt and evolved through VR, registered refined performance, in fact upto around 230% if quantified, as compared to their counterparts who simply learnt in traditional way. Their surgical performance was found to be quicker with near cent percent accuracy showing.
Besides, such technology has borne great results when it comes to pain management and when women have VR based headsets, mesmerizing landscapes divert their minds away from rigorous pain. In same way, patients experiencing with gastrointestinal, cardiac, neurological and post-surgical pain, can easily bring their pain levels down, when VR is utilized to quell afflictive stimuli and same is the case for those, who are likely to undergo surgery and their anxiety and stress levels are brought under control through such devices.
3. Cornerstone Aspect Of Healthcare Is Augmented Reality
There are a couple of aspects wherefrom, Augmented reality differs from VR, i.e. reality never roams out of sight from the users and outcome is brought up right before us in matter of minutes. Not to get bewildered but the AR imbibes the promise to be the cornerstone of healthcare industry in the coming years with a win-win situation for both, the patients as well as the doctors.
For those pursuing advanced medical study, surgeries can be performed in better and more controlled way, by enabling innate potential of surgeons. Such a scenario has come to light at Case Western Reserve University, where students are seen making best use of Microsoft HoloLens when they explore anatomy with HoloAnatomy app. With this such a method, insights are brought forth in detail peppered with an even greater accuracy, although virtual but one doesn’t feel the need to have real bodies for the purpose.
Further, the healthcare field is about to get a boost in the form of a one-of-its-kind headset comprising mixed reality and the company working on it, is Magic Leap, which has joined hands with SyncThinkfor ensuring brain health and with XRHealth for crafting a framework meant for therapeutic benefits while it also holds consistent discussions with Brainlab (medical technology company from Germany) to put forth a spatial computing technology in refined form.
However, none of such devices have still hit the shelves but sheer research and product processes do show that markets are likely to be flooded by such handy devices, in coming years.
4. Feeling Empowered With Health Tracking Systems, Wearables And Sensors:
Now a days and truly so, need is felt to empower patients and technology is best suited method for it and health trackers and wearable devices figure here prominently as we can keep track of the developments taking place inside our body right on the screens.
People in US, primarily rely upon FitbitIonicwhile trying to be conscious about their sleep and to schedule the workout. Following it, there comes PolarH10 to structure workout timing and instructors can also be joined in, to uncover a handful of suitable exercises required by our bodies. Now, when it comes to meditation, MuseHeadband has proved to be a effective device for critical quantification of meditation and to get replenished mindfulness.
Clearly, for assessing a variety of health aspects as mentioned above, we have been made available a wide variety of devices inundated with cutting-edge technology, but with the underlying promise of managing weight, stress level or simply enhancing our cognitive traits. Now, when health is managed by one at his dwelling and results are shared with the physician straight away, better decisions can be initiated right away in judicious manner.
5. Futuristic Medical Tricorder:
As the present era is marked by a gadget boom, which are handy and register accurate results, every professional in the industry hankers for a one-bound device flashing necessary features with which, diagnosis and subsequent health analysis could be done in a jiff. Such an idea of having such a device at hand, was featured in popular science fiction Star Trek, where Dr McCoy clutched his tricorder to scan a patient and got to know about the significant health complications right away and decreed the diagnosis soon after.
Turning the idea into reality, we now have, thanks to exponential innovation in technology in healthcare, Viatom CheckMe Pro, with just a size measuring a palm but which can gather ECG, heart rate, oxygen amount consumed, BP, temperature and much more. Following the design and code, other players have started working on such device such as MedWand, which also provides a camera mounted on top for tele-communication purpose. Then, BioIntelliSense has unveiled a mini device BioSticker, which fulfils a wide range of health requirements such as heart rate, body temperature, respiratory rate, body positions, activity levels, sleep depth and length, walking steps and so many forth.
Even though, product range which presents on market shelves, is not akin to tricorder, but technocrats put their fingers crossed that we shall cover this distance soon. Truly dear readers, time is not far when powerful microscopes would be embedded in smartphones, to fulfil objectives such as swab samples examination or photos of skin lesions etc and then, sensors could easily detect DNA abnormalities, antibodies or certain proteins.
Not exaggerating it further but such devices are like Swiss Army knife for physicians, i.e. a wide range of tasks can be performed through a single and small digital device.
6. Genome Sequencing Winning Hearts
For the US government, it is held that the Genome Project covering whole of humanity would fall around $2.7 billion which is, needless to say, pretty giant figure. But in January month of 2017, Illumina, which is a prominent DNA sequencing company, offered an integrated device, which is said to measure whole human genome at less than $100, meaning that genetic test would fall less than the price of a blood test. Howzatt ??
These tests, sans doubt, carry a great significance, as a handful of insights is made known to a person, such as the one concerning one’s sensitivity to drugs, medical conditions which can be multifactorial or monogenic and even our family past. Besides, a handful of other fields utilize genome sequencing best, such as nutrigenomics which is a combined field of studying nutrition, dietetics and genomics.
Then, there are companies like Habit, which is recently floated in California and which proffers diets that are customized as per genetic codes.
One of our colleagues, Mr. Akash Bansal from London, also took a genetic test which unveiled a range of useful insights. Like that Mr. Bansal should consume more of Vitamin A, E and iron and then, it was also revealed after the test that he lacked gluten, lactose and had minimal tolerance to alcohol. Similarly, his other risky conditions were brought to light too, suggestive of what actions or habits to be avoided to retain good health.
7. Drug Development Witness Sea Change:
At the moment, developing new drugs is tedious process and involves a lot of money too, but hunt is on, to unlock new ways with which such cumbersome drug-development process could be refined radically. Here, we have ever-promising technology AI and in silico trials. Experts firmly believe such approaches that pass through tech-framework would inculcate heavily on pharmaceutical scenario in coming days.
Right into the hotbed of A.I., the prime players showing nerve, are Recursion Pharmaceuticals, Deep Genomics and Turbine, which adhere to A.I. technology more closely and work towards building new drugs.
Besides, in silico drug trials, has been yet another tech-oriented aspect in field of healthcare, which has appealed to all and sundry. Such basically are unique computer simulations and are found to be extremely helpful in development of any drug or device and also to study its regulatory terms. Even though, clinical trials are not allowed through fusion of existing technology and biological know-how, but still, a great advancement is made here with organs-on-a-chip and such is already seen in widespread use in western world.
In the series, we have HumMod, which is hailed as the most absolute and collected human physiology model designed upon mathematics and decorates scores of research efforts. Similarly, in the race, Virtual Physiological Human (VPH) leads with scores of creations have been made of virtual models and such are used in studying issues of heart and osteoporosis.
It initially appears surreal to consider that a large amount of potential drugs, say in thousands, are being tested but on models acting like virtual patients in a matter of minutes. Day is not far, dear readers, when such a scenario would be turned into a reality for effective testing in quick time.
8. Nanotechnology Reveals Is A Giant Step Forward:
This won’t be wrong, miscalculated and inconsistent to claim that nanomedicine period is about to get cracked before us, making it possible for nanodevices and nanoparticles to be pressed into service of delivering drugs, to operate like minute surgeons or to unleash cancer treatment.
Sometime ago, say in 2014, researchers dedicated themselves at Max Planck Institute to design microbots which were scallop type and were designed to swim in fluids inside our bodies. Then, for conducting colon examination, smart and small pills, i.e. PillCam are widely put into such non-invasive use and such is a patient-friendly method as well.
Besides, just 2 years back, at MIT, researchers composed an electronic pill, which can be managed remotely and wirelessly and could transmit diagnostic insights or push forth drugs on being commanded.
Looking further, Nanotechnology is also expanding in terms of smart patches. To prove this, at CES 2020, Grapheal, a France based company, showcased its own crafted smart patch which enabled perpetual care of wounds while graphene core is designed to boost wound healing from inside.
As technology progresses, we are more likely to see, a handful of real-life instances, where nanotechnology plays a central role, in healthcare field. Experts believe PillCams can even be used to capture biopsy samples only to be analysed further while capsules can be designed to be controlled through remotes and thus, nano-surgeons can easily emerge into reality from a concept.
9. Robotics Have A Say:
None can deny that this is the fastest growing area in healthcare and there has been a wide range of robotics, offering a variety of useful assistance, from surgical robots (as helpers) to pharmabotics and then, as disinfecting robots which are also known as exoskeletons.
Clearly, as for exoskeletons, the year 2019 has proved to be turning point, as maiden surgery was performed in Europe which was aided by exoskeleton, where a tetraplegic man managed exoskeleton with his brain. Apart from this, scores of other applications too, that are a boost to healthcare industry, from being nurses’ assistants to offer help to those suffering from spinal cord injuries and so forth.
In case of having companions in form of Robots, such are a useful addition in healthcare in a variety of ways, such as to dispel gloom and loneliness, to deal with mental health issues and such are even a boon to manage kids with chronic health issues. In this series, the Jibo, Pepper, Paro and Buddy robots are some versatile examples where cameras, touch sensors and microphones are explicitly arranged for a regular discourse with those managing orders.
As an example, we have ikki, a product from an Australian start-up which is a great boon to children with chronic problems and their temperature, breathing rate, medications are recorded in timely way and stories and music is also played there to keep children entertained.
10. 3D-printing Print The Promise Of Quality Healthcare:
In nearly every single aspect pertaining to healthcare, that we can imagine, 3D-printing is bound to uncover a range of virtues. For instance, in printing bio-tissues, artificial limbs, pills, blood vessels, such can be best utilized and the list is endless too, as new researches are being made.
In the month of November 2019, Troy (in New York) based Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute witnessed massive researches and success was achieved in form of a method which was developed, by which 3D-print living skin with blood vessels. As for skin grafts for those with burn injuries, such a development is considered to be a milestone. Further, many NGOs serving refugees from war ravaged areas, such as Refugee Open Ware and Not Impossible, count upon 3D print technique to develop prosthetics and artificial limbs.
In final lap, the pharmaceutical industry is reaping great benefits through such cultivated technology, as we see 3D printed drugs with FDA approval hitting stores while efforts are still on, to develop “polypills” based upon 3D-print technique. Such polypills, would carry scores of drug layers by the virtue of which, patients would be enabled to stick to their therapeutic plan, in steadfast manner.