Technology is having an impact on our lives everywhere we go. From the way we shop to the food that we eat, technology is changing everything we do.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in healthcare, where technology is helping us beyond convenience, it is helping save lives.
The impacts have been substantial already, but in future these developments are likely to be even more pronounced.
So which technologies are having a real impact on healthcare?
Surgery is always a dangerous procedure, regardless of what is being done. The reason that good surgeons are some of the best paid people in the world is because their job is incredibly difficult and requires considerable skill.
New technology is making some surgical procedures less likely, which is therefore decreasing the risk of death that every surgery brings.
We have seen through the use of pulses, lasers, ultrasounds and magnetic stimulation that these techniques can be considerably safer than traditional surgical procedures.
Some of these are not new, such as X-Ray imaging, but we are seeing through new technology that the pace of change and the levels of success are constantly increasing. The future is bright for this kind of medical care and is a key element in reducing the chances of death whilst being treated.
Although currently limited mainly to prosthetics as a common use for 3D printing, the truth is that it has almost endless possibilities when the technology develops further.
We have seen that 3D printing can provide prosthetics at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods. They can even be made into completely custom designs, as the famous video with Robert Downey Jr giving an Iron Man prosthetic to a fan shows.
In future 3D printing could potentially create organic matter to order, which means that it could be anything from new skin to match exactly in skin grafts, to fully formed hearts or lungs that could be transplanted.
M-Health allows data to be collected about a patient through everyday life. This is then collected by a mobile device and can be transmitted to a doctor directly or stored in a database to track how a patient is reacting to a treatment over time.
The benefits of this are hard to overstate. It gives doctors the kind of insight that they would never be able to achieve through traditional time slots and clinical evaluations. These sessions will have significant time constraints and also are experienced outside of a patient’s regular routine.
Having access to this data gives doctors the unique opportunity to view the patient’s reaction when outside of a clinical environment, which aids in recovery, treatment and condition monitoring.
It can even be configured to alert the patient and doctor if levels drop or rise sharply and may require medical attention.
The genetics database may not be something that many people will be aware of on an individual level, but across the healthcare community will have a huge impact.
It will give clinicians a huge database that can be used to establish best treatments, the way that diseases affect different demographics or even how viruses spread in particular areas. It will essentially be the best possible opportunity for doctors to make the best decisions about the treatment of patients through crowd sourced medical information.
It will allow the best possible treatments to be administered that will not only suit the individual, but also make considerable differences to the effectiveness of them, based on in depth information. It will mean that somebody with a certain blood pressure, of a particular age, from a specific place and with a certain activity rate, can get the treatment that is likely to be the most successful for them.
It also means that when outbreaks like the Ebola crisis of 2014 occur, the genetics of the disease from the earliest patients can help prevent the disease spreading as rapidly in other areas of the population.