Healthcare and technological innovation have always gone hand in hand. As medical technology becomes more capable, new protocols are developed that make the best use of new equipment. Here is a very swift guide to 7 of the most significant technological developments that have recently emerged in the healthcare industry.
Wearable Blood Sugar Monitors
415 million people live with diabetes around the world. Diabetes is a condition that impacts the ability of the body to produce insulin – an essential hormone that helps to break down food into energy. Diabetics often struggle to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar can cause disorientation and motor function loss. High blood sugar can induce nerve damage and result in the loss of eyesight and extremities. Because of the huge market for equipment and the chronic nature of this illness, advances in diabetic treatment and monitoring have come along very swiftly in recent years.
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One of the most significant advances in the monitoring and treatment of diabetes has been the slow introduction of wearable blood sugar monitors. Traditionally, blood sugar monitors have required a new incision to be made by the user every time they wanted to monitor the levels of glucose in their blood. Wearable devices fit under the skin and do not require a separate blood sampling procedure. This comes as a huge relief to many diabetics, who understandably become a little sick of constantly making themselves bleed.
Wearable blood sugar monitors have been developed to work in conjunction with mobile phone applications so that diabetics and their doctors can monitor patterns occurring in their readings. The most recent devices are Bluetooth enabled – meaning that a user can simply touch their phone to their wearable device and receive a reading of their glucose levels. There has been huge success in the marketing of these products to healthcare services and private individuals alike. They offer a huge step forwards in terms of convenience for people living with diabetes.
Chemical Diversity Mapping
Human beings are home to many kinds of chemicals, microbes and foreign molecules. Finding a balance of these particles that preserves healthy skin and bodily function has been a great challenge for biologists in recent years. New methods of chemical diversity mapping have led to a more comprehensive understanding of the kinds of foreign matter human beings need to be healthy. It is hoped that this mapping will allow scientists to understand the impact of food, beauty products and harmful chemicals on the body.
Experienced medical professionals working towards an EMHA program will be well aware of the ongoing importance of telemedicine.Telemedicine – the delivery of healthcare remotely – hit the headlines in 2019 with the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic. Since then, a great deal of effort has gone into the development of effective and capable telemedicine portals. Although traditional telemedicine was conducted over the phone, there is only so much that can be achieved using this medium. Medical informatics companies have recently unleashed a wave of highly capable online telemedicine portals. These portals allow patients to access their physician. They allow patients to make prescription requests and payments easily and without attending a pharmacy or doctor’s office. Importantly, they also allow doctors to access patient records in an integrative fashion. This improves telemedicine efficiency and allows physicians to make judgements and approve medicines without switching over to another kind of software.
AI Aided Scan Interpretation
Physicians use medical scans to diagnose and develop treatment plans for all sorts of reasons. The main kinds of scans used by doctors are:
- X-Rays. X Radiation is passed through the body. Areas that the rays cannot pass through – such as bones – will show up as solid forms in photographic recordings of the procedure.
- Ultrasound. Ultrasound devices use high frequency sound waves to map areas of the body.
- MRI. Magnetic resonance Imaging scans are created by using powerful magnets and monitoring devices.
- CT. CT scans make use of X-Rays and computer imaging technology to produce detailed images of the inside of the body.
When analyzing scans, physicians look for anomalous occurrences that may indicate the cause of an issue. While this might sound simple, the sheer quantity of variables and the minute size of some defects make accurate scan analysis a painstaking process.
Software equipped with Artificial Intelligence has been hailed as a great solution to the problem of complex scan analysis. An AI equipped scan interpretation program can compare a scan to millions of others in a database – emerging with a contextual analysis of whatever anomalous data may exist. This technology is likely to make cases of misdiagnosis all the more rare, and will allow doctors to get to work on finding solutions rather than finding the problem. It will, of course, never truly replace doctors in the analysis of scans. Instead, it will simply augment their work and make it more accurate and efficient.
AI Aided Diagnostics
Artificial Intelligence is also being put to use in the development of diagnostics software. Medical diagnosis is usually carried out through the analysis of every available factor in a patient’s health or an analysis of samples from their tissue, urine or blood. Artificial Intelligence happens to be a great way of making these diagnostic processes far easier to complete accurately. So long as an AI capable diagnostic software product is privy to all of the necessary information it should be able to make an informed analysis. Using data from thousands of different cases, the latest AI diagnostic software can build diagnoses using far more information than a human being could ever handle. Again, this kind of software is unlikely to ever replace the role of the human doctor. Think of it more like a helpful, external analytical brain bank that a doctor can use to their advantage. In theory, patient outcomes should be drastically improved by this technology, as it has the potential to eliminate many possible cases of misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis is rife – even in the most advanced healthcare systems. One Canadian doctor estimated that up to 15 percent of all hospital admissions received a bad diagnosis. Misdiagnosis can cost lives. It frequently leads to the prescription of incorrect medication and the disregarding of serious symptoms – especially in more vulnerable patients. If the quantity of misdiagnoses is reduced significantly, it follows that the amount of patient fatalities will also be reduced. This is the ultimate aim of all healthcare organizations and is considered to be one of the most important marks of measurable progress.
Compact Dialysis Machines
Patients need dialysis when they develop end stage kidney failure. Kidneys help to remove toxins from the body – expelling them through the urinary system. Dialysis essentially replaces the functions of the kidneys. It is a process designed to:
- Maintain a safe level of chemicals within the body
- Remove waste, excess salt and excess water
- Control blood pressure
Until very recently, dialysis required the use of incredibly large and bulky machines. In most cases, dialysis machines were only accessible to patients in hospitals or in special dialysis centers. In certain cases, patients could keep these machines at home – often at great expense.
Recent developments in dialysis technology have enabled the miniaturization of machines that once took up huge amounts of space. In theory, this has paved the way for compact, portable dialysis solutions: potentially freeing millions of people from a restricted lifestyle due to end stage kidney failure. At the moment, compact dialysis machines are still relatively large, but the process of miniaturization continues. Kidney failure is an immensely common occurrence. In the United States of America, roughly 15 percent of people suffer from some degree of kidney function reduction. Kidney function reduction is usually progressive, which means that dialysis units are often oversubscribed. Truly compact dialysis machines will be a massive step forward in the treatment of people with progressive kidney failure.
Sperm And Egg Storage Automation
In Vitro Fertilization treatment is one of the biggest advances in fertility management to have been made in the last 40 years. The process behind IVF involves the removal of eggs. These eggs are then fertilized outside the human body in a laboratory before being reintroduced to induce cell splitting and eventual human life.
Almost all human eggs and sperm used in IVF is flash frozen. This enables doctors to combine them at a later date. Unfortunately, the flash freezing of eggs and sperm entails very complicated storage. When there are thousands of different samples in a system, some samples will undoubtably go missing or be introduced into the wrong person’s body. Some innovative tech companies have developed software that automates the freezing, storing and distribution of eggs and sperm. Companies such as TMRW claim that their automating systems will prevent the loss and mishandling of thousands of precious human eggs and sperm samples – enabling more people to have the children that they have always wanted. By 2100 it is estimated that millions of children will have owed their lives to In Vitro Fertilization.