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Technological Advancements in Medical Field in Recent Years

Technological Advancements in Medical Field in Recent Years 626 294 kupplinadmin

1. Smart inhalers

Inhalers are the main treatment option for asthma and if taken correctly, will be effective for 90% of patients. However, in reality, research shows that only about 50% of patients have their condition under control and as many as 94% don’t use inhalers properly.

To help asthma sufferers to better manage their condition, Bluetooth-enabled smart inhalers have been developed. A small device is attached to the inhaler which records the date and time of each dose and whether it was correctly administered. This data is then sent to the patients’ smartphones so they can keep track of and control their condition. Clinical trials showed that using the smart inhaler device used less reliever medicine and had more reliever-free days.

2. Robotic surgery

Robotic surgery is used in minimally invasive procedures and helps to aid in precision, control and flexibility. During robotic surgery, surgeons can perform very complex procedures that are otherwise either highly difficult or impossible. As the technology improves, it can be combined with augmented reality to allow surgeons to view important additional information about the patient in real time while still operating. While the invention raises concerns that it will eventually replace human surgeons, it is likely to be used only to assist and enhance surgeons’ work in the future. Read more about robotic surgery here.

3. Wireless brain sensors

Thanks to plastics, medical advances have allowed scientists and doctors to team up and create bioresorbable electronics that can be placed in the brain and dissolve when they are no longer needed, according to Plasticstoday.com. This medical device will aid doctors in measuring the temperature and pressure within the brain. Since the sensors are able to dissolve, they reduce the need for additional surgeries.

4. 3-D printing

If you haven’t heard, 3-D printers have quickly become one of the hottest technologies on the market. These printers can be used to create implants and even joints to be used during surgery. 3-D-printed prosthetics are increasingly popular as they are entirely bespoke, the digital functionalities enabling them to match an individual’s measurements down to the millimeter. This allows for unprecedently levels of comfort and mobility.

The use of printers can create both long-lasting and soluble items. For example, 3-D printing can be used to ‘print’ pills that contain multiple drugs, which will help patients with the organization, timing, and monitoring of multiple medications. This is a true example of technology and medicine working together.

5. Artificial organs

To take 3D printing up another notch, bio-printing is also an emerging medical technology. While it was initially ground-breaking to be able to regenerate skin cells for skin draughts for burn victims, this has slowly given way to even more exciting possibilities. Scientists have been able to create blood vessels, synthetic ovaries, and even a pancreas. These artificial organs then grow within the patient’s body to replace the original faulty one. The ability to supply artificial organs that are not rejected by the body’s immune system could be revolutionary, saving millions of patients that depend on life-saving transplants every year.

6. Remote monitoring tools.

At the end of 2012, 2.8 million patients worldwide were using a home monitoring system, according to a Research and Markets report. Monitoring patients’ health at home can reduce costs and unnecessary visits to a physician’s office. Mr. Higman offers the example of a cardiac cast with a pacemaker automatically transmitting data to a remote center. “If there’s something wrong for a patient, they can be contacted,” he says. “It’s basically allowing other people to monitor your health for you. It may sound invasive but is great for patients with serious and chronic illnesses.”

An article by Kaiser Health News, National Public Radio, and Minnesota Public Radio discussed the effects a home monitoring system had on readmission rates for heart disease patients at Duluth, Minn.-based Essentia Health. The national average rate of readmissions for patients with heart disease is 25 percent, but after Essentia Health implemented a home monitoring system, the rates of readmission for their heart disease patients fell to a mere two percent. And now that hospitals are being financially penalized for readmissions, home monitoring systems may offer a solution to avoid those penalties.

7. Sensors and wearable technology.

The wearable medical device market is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 16.4 percent a year, according to a Transparency Market Research report. Wearable medical devices and sensors are simply another way to collect data, which Dr. Chopra says is one of the aims and purposes of healthcare. He says sensors and wearable technology could be as simple as an alert sent to a care provider when a patient falls down or a bandage that can detect skin pH levels to tell if a cut is getting infected. “Anything we are currently using where a smart sensor could be is part of that solution,” Dr. Chopra says. “We’re able to take a lot of these data points to see if something abnormal is happening.”

8. Wireless communication.

While instant messaging and walkie-talkies aren’t new technologies themselves, they have only recently been introduced into the hospital setting, replacing devices like beepers and overhead pagers. “Hospitals are catching up to the 21st century with staff communicating to one another,” Mr. Higman says, adding that internal communication advancements in hospitals followed a slower development timeline since they had to account for security and HIPAA concerns.

Systems like Vocera Messaging offer platforms for users to send secure messages like lab tests and alerts to one another using smartphones, web-based consoles, or third-party clinical systems. These messaging systems can expedite the communication process while still tracking and logging sent and received information in a secure manner.

9. Real-time locating services.

Another growing data monitoring tool, real-time locating services, are helping hospitals focus on efficiency and instantly identify problem areas. Hospitals can implement tracking systems for instruments, devices, and even clinical staff. Mr. Higman says these services gather data on areas and departments that previously were difficult to track. “Retrospective analysis can only go so far, particularly in places constantly changing like emergency departments,” he says, but tracking movement with a real-time locating service can highlight potential issues in efficiency and utilization.

These tools also allow flexibility for last-minute changes. “If [a physician has] an add-on case today, do they have instruments on hand, and where are [the instruments]?” he asks. At the most basic level, these services can ensure equipment and supplies aren’t leaving the building, and for high-cost equipment and supplies of which hospitals may only have one or a few, being able to track their location can help verify its utilization, he says.

10. Pharmacogenomics/genome sequencing.

Personalized medicine continues to edge closer to the forefront of the healthcare industry. Tailoring treatment plans to individuals and anticipating the onset of certain diseases offers promising benefits for healthcare efficiency and diagnostic accuracy. Pharmacogenomics in particular could help reduce the billions of dollars in excess healthcare spending due to adverse drug events, misdiagnoses, readmissions and other unnecessary costs.

Before a full-fledged system of pharmacogenomics comes to fruition, the healthcare industry needs a tool that can aggregate and analyze all the big data and digital health information, Mr. Hoover says. “When we really start to have the ability to study a lot of that data, it’s going to transfer how we match up that information at the population, individual and macro levels,” he says. “The ability to actually compare that information is going to be valuable as we move forward, making sure medications we are taking are going to work for us.”

Tools for big data analysis for pharmacogenomics are still being developed, but data analytics and data aggregation for the purpose of population health may be the next big advancement on the horizon. “Understanding and connecting all these variables is going to be profound as it relates to moving forward in healthcare and designing interventions and analyzing patient populations and ultimately improving the lives and health of the American population,” Mr. Hoover says.

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