Technologies transforming healthcare
Five technologies leading the way – an infographic.
New Technologies in healthcare augment body functions, sense and track vital signs, support complex surgical interventions, and inform and educate patients. They promise to empower patients and healthcare workers alike, improving and prolonging life for millions and alleviating the economic and organizational burdens on creaking healthcare systems. The medtech industry is going from strength to strength, but many technological, regulatory and commercial challenges still need to be resolved to pave the way to a healthier future.
1. CARE WHEREVER
The remote delivery of healthrelated services has proven its relevance during the Covid-19 pandemic. From the provision of medical information and patient education to the complex remote rehabilitation of stroke patients through gamification, telehealth answers new and growing consumer demands and expectations in the healthcare sector.
While it reduces the need for in-person consultation, information and treatment can be distributed conveniently and efficiently to a broader patient base.
The growing industry still needs to answer questions regarding reimbursement, patient privacy, legal issues and digital equality.
2. LITTLE HELPERS
The health wearables market is booming. Innovative hearing aids use AI, track brain and body activity, and even analyze social interactivity – essential for mental health and overall wellbeing. They are also now nearly invisible, improving patient experience.
Acceptance is important and aesthetics play a decisive role in the success of wearables. Patients do not want to be reminded that they are ill.
The industry still needs to tackle data security issues and technical challenges such as battery life, miniaturization and radio and antennae integration in typically small, light and ergonomically sound devices.
3. THE ROBOT WILL SEE YOU
Robots have helped medical teams for decades. Today robots routinely assist in a variety of surgical interventions, including urological and heart operations. The industry is growing and allows for ever greater precision and efficiency.
Although technology is making great strides and an increasing number of patients are prepared to let robots carry out operations on them, many are still hesitant about trusting their lives to an automated machine.
As robots in healthcare become more widespread, trust will grow. But it must not be forgotten that machines can make mistakes so human supervision will still be required.
4. PRINT ON DEMAND
3D-printing technology has the potential to help overcome a global shortage of donor organs. Scientists recently presented the first 3D-printed heart. In the future we may be able to print a complete spare-part warehouse of organs and provide them in large quantities on an economically viable basis.
A widespread roll-out of the technology would save millions of peoples’ lives. 3D-printed tissue also plays an important role in pharmaceutical research. Even functional cancer cells can be printed for the development of new cancer treatments.
The sector is making huge strides, but the technological hurdles in developing complex organs are still significant.
5. LIFTING THE BURDEN
Exoskeletons primarily substitute or augment lost or impaired limb motion in patients. They play an increasingly important role in rehabilitating patients who have lost their mobility due to injury, and get them back on their feet quicker. They can also lighten the burden for people suffering from neurophysical conditions such as cerebral palsy.
In the future, exoskeletons may help nurses lift patients, support surgeons during exhausting operations, and keep people safer and healthier at work for longer. The human, societal and economic impact in an aging world would be significant.
But first, exoskeletons will have to become softer, smaller, more discreet and more personalized. And prices per unit need to drop.