There’s never been a more exciting time for the healthcare industry than right now. Technology is set to transform the medical field like never before. Driven by mobile technology, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, 3D imaging and other emerging expertise, modern medicine will be able to meet the challenges it is facing in the 21st century.
Health technologies encompass all the devices, medicines, vaccines, procedures and systems designed to streamline healthcare operations, lower costs and enhance quality of care.
Here are some ways technology will revolutionise medicine and healthcare in 2020.
There’s nothing quite as exciting as AI right now, with substantial growth and exciting opportunities surrounding the healthcare industry.
The use of artificial intelligence within the healthcare industry is expected to grow rapidly at an annual rate of 40 per cent through 2021 — to $6.6 billion (Dh24.2 billion), from approximately $600 million in 2014.
AI and machine learning offer new and improved ways to ascertain disease, identify conditions, crowdsource and create treatment plans, screen health epidemics, generate efficiencies in medical research and clinical trials, and make operations more efficient at being able to handle the increased demands on the healthcare system.
According to McKinsey, there could be $100 billion in annual savings for medicine and pharma by depending on big data as well as the artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to process it.
Robots performing tasks
Can you trust a robot with your life? Apparently you can! Robots such as the da Vinci surgical robot can help medical professionals in the operating room and the scope of this extends beyond surgical applications. With the global medical robotics market expected to reach $20 billion by 2023, robots in healthcare are set to perform many different tasks. They are already helping doctors treat patients in rural areas with telepresence, providing medical supplies, sterilising hospital rooms, helping patients with rehabilitation or with prosthetics, and automating labs and packaging medical devices. Besides, there’s the micro-bot that can deliver therapy to a specific part of the body, such as radiation to a tumour or cure bacterial infections.
Now home care robots from German company medisana support health control at home and reminds elderly patients to check their vital signs on a daily basis. The integrated VitaDock+ app is compatible with medisana Connect devices. The app collects and bundles measured values such as blood pressure, blood sugar, weight, pulse rate or oxygen saturation. The Home Care Robot reminds users when measurements are due and, if desired, sends them to the family physician or relatives. It can also alert family members if their elderly relative has had a fall.
Computers and machine vision
We all know that computers are being used extensively in the medical field. They provide accurate information and being increasingly used to interpret CT scans to detect neurological and cardiovascular illnesses and detect tumours in X-ray images. The technology called machine vision that enables a computing device to inspect, evaluate and identify still or moving images, is showing great progress in diagnostics. It helps in viewing scans and medical images, surgery, and more.
It is also helping doctors accurately understand blood loss during childbirth so that mothers get proper care to avoid deaths from post-partum haemorrhaging.
Wearable and monitoring tech
Wearable fitness technology has weaved itself into society so that Fitbits and smartwatches are seen as mainstream; and the future of wearable devices shows no sign of slowing down. With more than 80 per cent of people willing to wear wearable tech, there are tremendous opportunities to use these devices for healthcare. Today’s smartwatches are equipped to monitor your heart rhythms, blood pressure, detect atrial fibrillation and send reports to your doctor, track your temperature, and more.
Monitoring devices such as Omron’s Evolv have set new standards in blood pressure monitoring. Evolv is a sleek-looking upper-arm device that sets the new standard in blood pressure monitoring. The display, monitor and cuff have been integrated into a compact one-piece device with no tabletop unit, tubes or wires. Thanks to its unique design and features, Evolv offers unmatched usability and portability. This allows you to measure your blood pressure anywhere, anytime. Results are synced with a companion app and can be shared with your doctor too.
Genomics to treat diseases
Genomics, the study of genes, is making it possible to predict, diagnose and treat diseases more precisely and personally than ever. Genomics investigates the complex biological details of an individual and the use of these for effective diagnosis and tailormade treatment. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have further helped genomic medicine with producing more accurate results.
Computers make detailed investigations of genes and gene mutations that cause diseases and helps the medical community better understand the occurrence, the treatment or even eradicating it. Scientists are conducting many studies on conditions as organ transplant rejection, cystic fibrosis, and cancers to determine how best to treat these conditions through personalised medicine.
Potential of 3D printing
3D printing is creating an enormous opportunity for the medical industry. According to a report by market research firm SmarTech Analysis, the market for medical 3D printing is estimated to be worth $1.25 billion. By 2027, the market value is set to grow to $6.08 billion. It is clear that the potential for 3D printing within healthcare is huge.
Surgeons can reproduce patient-specific organs with 3D printing to help prepare for procedures, and many medical devices and surgical tools can be 3D printed. It makes it easier to cost-effectively develop comfortable prosthetic limbs for patients and print tissues and organs for transplant. It’s also used in dentistry and orthodontics.
Innovation in extended reality
Extended reality (XR) is revolutionising the medical field by adding innovation into the healthcare experience.
The XR healthcare market is predicted to reach $5.1 billion worldwide by 2025, encouraged by growing adoption and investments in healthcare IT. Doctors and surgeons are increasingly leveraging XR for medical procedures, and hospitals are utilising it to streamline medical processes and improve healthcare, from patient care and surgical imaging to resident training.
Virtual reality has helped patients with visual impairment, depression, cancer, and autism. Augmented reality aids physicians during brain surgery and reconnecting blood vessels. In mixed reality, the virtual and real worlds are intertwined, so it provides important education capabilities for medical professionals as well as to help patients understand their conditions or treatment plans.
The strength of digital twins
Digital Twins act as a digital replica for the physical object or service they represent in the healthcare industry, providing monitoring and evaluation without being in close proximity. Digital Twins are able to provide a secure environment for testing the impact of changes on the performance of a system.
It can assist a doctor in understanding the possibilities for a successful outcome of a procedure, help make therapy decisions, and manage chronic diseases. They can help improve patient experience through effective, patient-centric care. The use of digital twins in healthcare is still in its nascent stages, but it has huge potential.
Super-fast treatments with 5G
The fifth generation (5G) refers to the super-fast internet and promises to provide speeds that are at least 10 to 20 times greater than the normal speed of the internet. With faster downloads and uploads along with wider coverage, 5G is bound to bring about changes in our current healthcare scenario.
With the sophisticated gadgets, patients will no longer need to visit the clinic for their check-ups. Instead, they can doctors on their gadgets and get virtual treatment for minor ailments.
5G will enable the transmission of large imaging files so specialists can review and advise on care; allow for the use of AI and internet of things technology; enhance a doctor’s ability to deliver treatments through AR, VR and mixed reality; and allow for remote and reliable monitoring of patients.