With recent events placing the medical science firmly in the spotlight, we thought it appropriate to take a look at some of the latest developments in medical technology, which will soon start to provide lasting positive impact.
COVID drove a huge increase in the use of telemedicine. It is estimated than in the USA alone over a billion appointments were completed using phone or video call in 2020. Much like the advent of call centres and shared service centres in the noughties, the focus now is one of improving the customer experience and creating a seamless experience between the physical and the virtual.
2. Health Data is Gold!
With a market expected to be worth over $70bn by 2025, health data is the next big thing. With even the humble Apple Watch now collecting huge amounts of data on our wellbeing, it’s clear that health data collection & analysis will become much more a part of every day life. A good example is how developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) have enabled image recognition software to identify issues with wound healing and minimise the prescription of antibiotics. Additionally, AI is also now driving more accurate and fairer health insurance premiums.
3. 3D Printed Tablets
If houses and chocolate bars can be 3D printed, surely there’s a use in medicine? Well of course: 3D printing is be used for certain medicines to improve the time taken to enter the bloodstream and FabRx has produced a pharmaceutical printer to enable the printing of personalised medicines. For those with chronic conditions and the need for multiple tablets throughout the day, the thought of a “one perfectly tailored pill does all” will surely provide a huge benefit.
4. Smart Pacemakers
It was inevitable that Bluetooth technology would move from personal devices to the most personal of devices – those installed inside us. Several organisations are developing pacemakers and defibrillation devices that use Bluetooth. More effective monitoring, better and more rapid diagnoses and simpler maintenance are just a few of the benefits of this incredible new technology.
5. Biosensors and Wearables
Much like something from a 70s sci-fi movie, it won’t be long until the biosensor becomes ubiquitous. Already in use for certain conditions, advances in technology are driving simpler, lower cost and higher performing devices that will be no more intrusive than a plaster yet provide huge amounts of actionable insight. As The Medical Futurist notes “Isn’t it ridiculous and terrifying at the same time that we bring our cars to the car service at the moment that it indicates a problem, however, we don’t do that with our own signals”.
6. AI Cancer Treatment
Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge is set to be the first hospital in the world to use Innereye, an AI deep learning tool that accelerates the treatment of cancer patients. By using AI, Innereye processes hospital data to accurately identify tumours on patient scans, cutting Computed Tomography (CT) processing times and treatment planning by up to 90%. This could be a real game changer for health authorities, delivering rapid, high quality treatment whilst starting to address the huge backlog of non pandemic related cases.
7. Connected Devices and The Internet of Things (IOT)
It’s inevitable that when Apple’s latest iteration of the Apple Watch contains a wealth of medical related technology, the rest of the world will soon follow. The desire to collect and process real-time data has never been greater, which in turn is driving greater levels of preventative care and earlier diagnoses, as well as accelerating drug trials. However, much like the IT world in general, the ability to act intelligently on the sheer volume of data is proving a challenge for many healthcare professionals.
8. Robotic Surgery
“The doctor will see you now” may soon become a legacy phrase. With the latest advancements in robotic surgery technology enabling incredible precision and accuracy via remote access; the need for surgeons and patients to travel long distances may soon be over. This incredible video shows a surgeon in London performing a complex procedure (albeit on a banana…) in California whilst connected via a 5G network.
9. Virtual Reality (VR)
No longer just for gaming, VR is transforming the patient experience. From helping sufferers of chronic pain by “virtually” removing them from their situation to helping stroke victims immerse themselves in a simulated environment, which can massively improve the recovery of motor skills, VR is here to stay.
OK, so nanotechnology isn’t quite going to enable rapid limb regeneration a la Will Smith in i-robot, but medical nanotechnology is advancing at pace. From simple vaccine delivery to more rapid disease diagnosis, a massive growth of nanotechnology is predicted. Groundbreaking work in the treatment of cancer is already underway, whereby medication is delivered at a cellular level, which massively reduces the toxic side effects of chemotherapy