Technology-driven healthcare is the future of medicine, providing accessible, life-saving care for patients.
It’s an exciting time for the healthcare industry. In recent years, technologies have advanced at breakneck speed. Today, procedures and treatments that were unimaginable even a decade ago have become commonplace. Here are just a few of the incredible technological advances that are reshaping the future of medicine.
1. Wearable Devices
Clinical trials are beginning to embrace tracking technology like sensors and wearable devices in order to boost patient recruitment and retention. With the ability to remotely monitor a patient’s vitals, these devices can reduce the number of on-site visits a patient has to make during the trial, making it more convenient for both researchers and patients. Google, for example, created a wristband that can track vitals as part of clinical research. Devices like ingestible monitors can even track drug adherence, increasing trial efficiency while reducing costs.
2. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) is already poised to disrupt the healthcare industry, with a wide variety of applications that can help both patients and doctors. Chatbots that rely on natural language processing and machine learning can guide patients towards more accurate self-diagnoses via text, while clinical trials are using the intelligent algorithms that drive digital advertising platforms like Facebook and Google to run campaigns that are more targeted than ever before.
Robotics are already revolutionizing healthcare by automating certain tasks with a greater degree of accuracy and often at a lower cost than humans. Johnson and Johnson’s Sedasys machine offers one powerful example. Used to administer anesthesia for colonoscopies, the device reduced costs by over 90%. Surgical robots can execute procedures with precision, while companion robots can offer at-home mental health treatment for patients. But doctors shouldn’t worry about being replaced — robotics are best used with human oversight.
Nanotechnology takes robotic technology and shrinks it down to microscopic levels. These nanodevices can deliver drugs through the bloodstream to targeted areas, proving more effective than traditional therapies for hard-to-treat diseases like cancer. Nanotechnology can also serve a diagnostic function, closely monitoring vitals and subtle chemical changes that traditional sensors are unable to detect.
5. Genome Sequencing
As healthcare becomes more consumer-centric, patients are demanding greater access to personal medical information. Genome sequencing provides a wealth of information to patients, and as genetic testing becomes increasingly affordable, patients can discover their medical histories and obtain guided treatment plans.
6. Multipurpose Devices
Every physician’s dream is to have a gadget that could instantaneously scan a patient’s vitals, diagnose the disease, and analyze a treatment plan — anyone remember the Tricorder??? While these devices don’t exist yet, they may become a reality in the not-so-distant future. Apple, Google, and Amazon are all developing apps that can consult with patients, monitor vitals, and provide telemedicine services from a single device.
7. 3D Printing
A recent Industry Growth Report predicts the healthcare 3D printing market will be worth over $2.2 billion by 2024. As the technology becomes more affordable and thus more ubiquitous, its application in medicine will also grow exponentially. Prosthetics, internal organs, and even drugs can now be 3D printed, providing life-saving care for many patients who couldn’t afford or access it before.
8. The Internet
I know, I know — the internet seems too obvious to be included on this list. But in my opinion, it’s actually the most important technological innovation in the history of healthcare. The rise of the web ushered in an era of patient empowerment and information sharing, which caused a fundamental shift in the industry’s approach to medical treatment and care. At the same time, the medical community can access the data and knowledge they need at a moment’s notice to improve patient outcomes.
The end result? Happier, healthier patients and a solid foundation for industry-wide innovation in the years to come.