The rapid development of healthcare solutions in the previous decades has mixed our perceptions of what is presently possible in the healthcare context.
Every day, we read the news about AI-based assistants and virtual reality glasses allowing doctors to perform better surgeries or diagnose rare diseases at early stages. With all these advances, the line between science fiction promises fully automated Auto-Doc bots and available real-life options has become quite blurred. Where is healthcare technology taking us?
In this article, we will analyze 7 healthcare spheres where newly emerging technologies can seriously change the current status quo in 2020.
Check out here top 7 emerging technologies in healthcare:
1. Digital Medicine and Telemedicine
The increasing global mobility discards the outdated concepts of family doctors and neighborhood hospitals. If a US resident has a stroke on a Thai vacation, local practitioners usually have no idea about their allergies or medical history, which increases the risk of adverse outcomes.
The logical solution in this sphere is the full digitalization of all medical records that should be made accessible from any part of the world. While this may pose some security issues associated with patient confidentiality in the case of data breaches, the benefits of this measure clearly outweigh potential problems.
Additionally, this may further stimulate the development of healthcare telemedicine where people could purchase remote support plans. This could enable overseas specialists to be guided remotely by the client’s primary physician.
2. Remote Trackers
Another digitalization trend in healthcare technology is the increased use of wearables and mobile devices for remote patient monitoring.
68% of expert physicians interviewed by the Consumer Technology Association have noted that these technologies can improve clinical outcomes. They also force people to take greater responsibility for their health. The increasing popularity of fitness trackers demonstrates how the instant visibility of health habits implementation creates a sense of ‘ownership’ among users.
New instruments in this dimension will let patients and doctors monitor a larger number of vitals, including glucose levels and blood pressure, and store this data in medical databases for further analysis. This way, physicians can track the patient’s progress, adjust treatment plans or instantly react to emergency situations in disease development.
3. Tissue Engineering
Innovative companies such as Humacyte Inc. have already made several breakthroughs in healthcare technology in tissue engineering including the creation of artificial blood vessels. These instruments can assist patients in multiple contexts varying from dialysis procedures to surgical operations.
Another direction in transplantation research is related to xenotransplantation. However, 3D-printed organs still remain a prospect of the future rather than a 2020 issue. Although, scientists at the University of Alabama have already made progress in the genetic modification of animals.
Pig heart valves transplantation is widely utilized presently due to the high anatomic similarities of pigs and humans. In the next several years, these scientists may present the opportunity of growing the donor animals with immunologically compatible organs. In as little as 6 months or less.
This healthcare technology development is expected to decrease organ failure mortality manifold. On a global scale and can be a huge jump in health care technology.
4. Telesurgery and Robot Surgery
In 2019, a Chinese surgeon completed the first operation in the world conducted remotely via a 5G connection with a medical robot. The latency levels provided for seamless operation of the robotic arms via the distance of 30 miles.
The lack of access to emergency surgeries such as appendectomy presently causes thousands of deaths in many regions of the world. This opportunity may seem especially promising considering the development of robotic surgical systems such as da Vinci, Aesop, and Zeus.
Up to 90% of laparoscopic operations including prostatectomies are already done robotically to reduce open incisions. Healthcare technologies have seen recent developments that suggest that some of these surgeries may be fully automated and performed without surgeon assistance. This opens even more opportunities for global well-being.
5. Genotyping and Gene Therapy
There has been an emerging trend in healthcare technologies of DNA analysis commercialization. While gene therapy remains a costly enterprise that is not presently provided to all patients with genetic diseases. The affordability of genetic testing has been steadily decreasing.
This creates substantial opportunities for regular patients who can learn more about their genetic inheritance disorders. As well as associated risks for such diseases as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Additionally, genotyping provides more information to medical practitioners regarding the optimal choice of treatment strategies and potential reactions to pharmaceutical drugs.
6. Smartphone-Based Healthcare
Many diseases require substantial changes in your lifestyle to facilitate recovery, prevent relapses, and improve your overall quality of life. However, overworked doctors rarely find the time to write in-depth prescriptions, recommend tasty dishes for the Atkins diet or answer multiple questions about the normality of your body after heart surgery.
Imagine the capability to instantly receive recommendations regarding your optimal diet, exercises, and physical limitations to your mobile device instantly after your check-up hospital visit. You also gain access to a limited-access anonymous forum of people with similar conditions. Several professional doctors can moderate these supporting forums who can also answer your questions and recognize emergency issues.
This functionality is already available to users of many mobile apps and educational courses. Medical institutions can incorporate this technology within 1 to 2 years.
7. AI-Powered Decision Support Systems
Modern AI decision support systems including the Watson system developed by IBM have already produced highly positive initial results. These solutions utilize big data and machine learning capabilities to study all patient records. As well as all available medical literature and recent practice related to similar cases.
Afterward, they can summarize the analysis results and accompany them with potential recommendations based on available best practices. Such decision support systems may be a life-saver for many countries with overloaded healthcare providers such as the NHS in the UK.
Since many hospitals are understaffed, this prior analysis can allow overworked doctors to provide high-quality services. Therefore, decreasing the average waiting times as care is given within the brief allocated appointment times.
Healthcare Technologies in 2020 and Your Health Responsibilities
The pace of technology development and digitalization frequently exceeds the speed of learning in the case of many busy practitioners. Hence, you should take ownership of your health and keep track of all recent trends and opportunities in healthcare-related to your conditions.
As with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), your approach does not need to be an ‘either-or’ one. If you experience any persisting issues with your health, consult your physician immediately. Even if your smartphone app or popular forums suggest otherwise.
However, some healthcare practitioners can ignore the recent changes in treatment plans or some emerging technologies. This may suggest that you need to seek additional recommendations from other medical specialists to ensure the best possible outcomes.