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Technology seems to be at the forefront of developing many industries from construction and engineering, architecture to the food industry and now even more so prevalent in the healthcare industry.
Of course, technology has always been at the core of medical advancements, but it has gone from traditionally being in a lab or behind a microscope to now adapting the initial use of a product and in some instances bringing it into the home for medical/health purposes.
In fact, many of us are already using the technology but maybe did not realise the potential medical possibilities.
A recent BBC article reports on the findings on one of the first diabetic NHS patients who is currently experimenting a new Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) product that uses artificial intelligence to measure the glucose fluid that surrounds the body’s cells. This product works by alerting the patient if their blood sugars are too high or low, this allows the user to spot trends in their glucose production avoiding potential diabetic shock.
However, technology hasn’t stopped researchers working on the next level – Artificial Pancreas – This not only monitors the glucose levels but also delivers insulin automatically into the user when required, providing a full 360 process, without any human intervention. Further research is still being conducted before it is made available globally.
Virtual reality (VR) has been used to contribute in medical training. Companies are working with Surgeons to film real life surgery from numerous angles then combining it all into a Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) model of the anatomy and using that as an interactive training experience.
Using virtual reality techniques in healthcare can have considerable advantages for not only the doctor but also patient education. In the same way the operation experience is used for training medical students, it can also allow the patient to be talked through their own patient plan by using their own images ensuring they understand the upcoming procedure.
Robotic surgery is a recent innovation in which surgery is performed using a robotic device, e.g. robotic arm which is controlled by a human surgeon. This means fewer risks of complications during surgery and a faster procedure. The robotic device is accurate, meaning smaller incisions, reduced blood loss and faster recovery.
Video conferencing doesn’t have to be confined to the business world, organisations are partnering with NHS GPs and providing them too with the virtual appointments system. With this system available 24/7 you have the ability to make an appointment online and have a video consultation appointment within a couple of hours. It doesn’t stop there, should you require a prescription then this is sent over to your nominated chemist ready to be collected ASAP.
Most people already wear a trackable device such as Fit Bit Watch or Apple Watch, wearable trackers are gaining momentum and can be used as part of a long- term healthcare plan. Telehealth is the remote exchange of data between a patient at home and their medical professional(s). The wearable technology device provides services that help managing conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Chronic Heart Failure (CHF), Diabetes and Epilepsy.
The growth of Telehealth enables individuals to take more control over their own health, and becomes an intrinsic part of the individuals care pathway, with information about their health condition being monitored regularly to flag up issues before they become ‘critical’. It works by monitoring vital signs, such as blood pressure, and transmitting the data via a telephone line, or broadband to a telehealth monitoring centre or a health care professional where it is monitored against parameters set by the individual’s medical contact.
Technology is so inherent in our daily lives and the healthcare adoption is vital in continuing to move the industry forward. A Warwickshire business is due to benefit from a £9m Government funding scheme to support innovative digital technology projects that are addressing healthcare challenges. (do you have the link to this?)
With iPSC technology you can take a slither of skin from people who have a genetically determined heart condition (because all of your cells, even your skin cells, contain your entire DNA). You can change those cells in a laboratory into stem cells, and then change those stem cells into heart cells so in effect what you end up with is the patient’s own heart cells in a dish. Research like this can help with treatment strategies.
The healthcare and technological field has its challenges, but the value of the two working closely together is clearly beneficial and the possibilities in the healthcare industry are endless.