Digital healthcare technologies have been slowly reshaping the future of healthcare with artificial intelligence, VR/AR, 3D printing, nanotechnology, or robotics. Healthcare workers must embrace these emerging technologies as it is necessary to work hand-in-hand with these for a healthier future.
Digital technologies can assist in creating a sustainable healthcare system, fine-tune the relationship between medical practitioners and patients, provide more effective, cheaper, and faster solutions for diseases.
Let us look at the top 10 technologies that will help in redefining healthcare.
- Artificial Intelligence:
Artificial intelligence (AI) is redesigning healthcare to a massive extent with algorithms that can mine medical records, create treatment plans, and help with creating drugs much faster than anybody else.
The most recent example would be how Google’s DeepMind created an AI algorithm for breast cancer analysis. By an average of 11.5%, the algorithm was able to outperform all radiologists on data sets to identify breast cancer.
- Virtual Reality:
Virtual reality (VR) is changing the future of our healthcare infrastructure. VR is being utilized to practice operations by the future as well as actual surgeons. This technology is helping the healthcare industry transform the lives of the patients by being effective in pain management, using VR headsets to get distracted during labor pain, etc.
Some examples of such software programs are the ones developed by companies like OSSO VR and ImmersiveTouch.
- Augmented Reality:
Augmented reality (AR) is becoming a driving force in the future of medicine both for the doctors as well as patients. Concerning medical professionals, this technology is helping medical students prepare well for real-life operations by giving them detailed, accurate, and virtual depictions of the human anatomy to study without the need of a human body.
This is already in place at Case Western Reserve University, where Microsoft HoloLens is being used to study anatomy through the HoloAnatomy app.
- Healthcare Trackers, Sensors, and Wearables:
The future of healthcare is connected to individuals taking care of their health through emerging technologies that are doing the needful. There is a device for all your needs starting from managing weight, stress level, enrich cognitive capabilities, etc. These devices will help people to control the state of their health and make useful decisions as they can monitor a person’s health at home and share the results at any given time with the physician.
Some of the most popular examples of these would be Fitbit Ionic to monitor sleep and track workout, Polar H10 to customize the workout strategies and routines with the help of a personalized trainer.
- Medical Tricorder:
One of the biggest dreams of any healthcare professional is to have a single potent device that can detect and diagnose all the possible diseases that are out there! Even though the current products we have are not very similar, something that closely resembles the tricorder would be the Viatom CheckMe Pro which is a palm-sized gadget that can measure ECG, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and oxygen saturation, etc.
- Genome Sequencing:
Genome sequencing will provide you with valuable information like your drug sensitivity, multifactorial, or monogenic medical conditions, and your family history. Several fields are profiting from the advantages of genome sequencing like nutrigenomics that deals with the cross-field of nutrition, dietetics, and genomics.
One such formidable example would be the California based start-up called Habit which provides a personalized diet based on genetic codes.
- Revamping Drug Development:
The process of drug development is long and expensive. One of the ways this process is being remotely improved is through artificial intelligence and in silico trials. Some companies like Turbine, Deep Genomics, and Recursion Pharmaceuticals are exploiting the power of AI to create new drugs and therapeutic solutions in a very short span and fasten the time-to-market.
Nanotechnology is making progress in healthcare in small leaps. With the help of this technology, it can among others, allow the continuous monitoring of wounds and stimulate wound healing. Some of the classic examples would be the scallop like microbots that was designed by Max Planck Institute, which can swim through bodily fluids. Another example would be the smart pills called PillCam that are already being used for colon exams which is non-invasive and patient-friendly.
Robotics is undoubtedly the fastest-growing fields in the world of healthcare. Some of its developments are surgical robots, pharmabotics, exoskeletons, or disinfectant robots collectively called as Robot Companions. Robot companions are now often being used in healthcare to help people alleviate loneliness, assist with mental health issues, and help kids with any kind of chronic illness.
Some examples of buddy robots are Jibo, Pepper, and Paro. The most notable one among others would be Ikki, created by an Australian startup that helps children with chronic conditions to monitor and update their medications, temperature, and breathing rate while simultaneously engaging them with music and interactive stories.
- 3D Printing:
With the help of 3D printing, we can create a lot of wonders like print bio-tissues, pills, artificial limbs, blood vessels, and many more. Researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York started printing a 3D-print living skin with blood vessels. This development is very helpful in the case of skin grafting for burn victims. Several NGOs like Refugee Open Ware and Not Impossible specialize in 3D print prosthetics for refugees from disturbed areas.
With the advent of digital health, we are truly living during a revolutionary period in the Medical world. The pharmaceutical industry is also facing its version of growth and modernity in medicine. These should act as the harbinger of good health for the masses especially during these testing times.