We have seen miraculous changes in medical technology in the past few decades. From computer-aided imaging to advanced new treatments, healthcare today is much more efficient than before. The medical industry is constantly evolving and we’re on the brink of a health tech revolution. We have already seen tremendous developments in medical technology over the last decade, but with AI, robotics, and other emerging technologies, what are we likely to see in 2023?
Also known as MedTech, medical technology is a product, service, or solution designed to improve the administration of healthcare. The Medtech industry encompasses the creation of medical wearable devices, telehealth services, and healthcare software powered by artificial intelligence (AI).
The healthcare industry has developed substantially thanks to the latest technological advances. In the last 10 years, we have experienced the development of many promising new technologies, such as new vaccine development methods, robotic exoskeletons for the disabled, AI specialized in drug discovery, and much more.
The Covid-19 pandemic forced pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals to drastically alter the way they handle their duties. However, this adversity brought with it a more widespread adoption of new, technologically-driven healthcare solutions. Technologies like remote patient monitoring and AI-driven diagnostics have proven their efficiency and are likely to remain valuable tools for healthcare providers in the years to come.
Making the switch to electronic methods of documentation and recordkeeping simplifies the way most processes are made. Gone are the days of having to fill out paper forms and having the office cluttered by file cabinets. With electronic records, all the money that would otherwise be destined for paper is saved.
Additionally, removing paper processes means that the time and energy spent handling, storing, transporting, and reviewing them can be spent in better ways. Freeing up the hands of medical staff to tend to more meaningful tasks improves operational efficiency and helps provide access to healthcare to more people at a faster pace.
Education is a fundamental pillar of healthcare. Not only does it allow medical professionals to perform complex healthcare procedures, but it also keeps patients and the general public safe and healthy. For example, thanks to advanced technology, medical students can learn how to operate on patients without even setting foot in a hospital. By using virtual reality, surgeons can increase their proficiency in an immersive and risk-free environment.
Meanwhile, patients gain access to various software solutions that can offer general or personalized health education. From online portals providing individuals with information about their medical history to applications that drive people towards a healthier lifestyle, technology-driven healthcare education can aid in developing a healthier society.
Thanks to technological advances, patients can take a more active role in their recovery. Medical devices such as fitness bands and other wirelessly connected gadgets can create a hyper-targeted, personalized view of a person's well-being.
Information gathered by these devices can be analyzed using AI to give patients and healthcare providers critical data to improve the quality of treatment. The data gathered can be used to measure physiological phenomena like heart rate, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure variations.
Likewise, data models can help determine what lifestyle changes, such as exercise routines, will be more beneficial to a patient. For the elderly and those who live alone, connected devices are remote indicators of their vital signs and can be used to monitor for medical conditions. Remote patient monitoring can prevent the passing of patients due to chronic conditions, infectious diseases, heart attacks, and many other ailments.
Every year, billions of dollars are unnecessarily wasted due to medical errors. A major benefit of medical technologies is their capacity to automate most repetitive processes and tasks, thus minimizing any chance of errors appearing on administrative or patient data.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), medication errors and unsafe medication practices are two of the leading causes of avoidable injury and harm in the world. Systemic issues and human factors like fatigue or staff shortages affect the prescription, transcription, dispensation, administration, and monitoring of healthcare (source).
Healthcare technology can address medical errors from various angles. For instance, clinical decision support (CDS) systems are designed to provide medical professionals with crucial medical and patient-specific information. Moreover, medical device manufacturers have placed considerable effort into creating software-powered solutions that can suggest the best treatment based on data specific to the patient.
The collection of patient data is changing the face of the healthcare field. Digitization has given doctors cloud-based, electronic systems they can use to support their decisions regarding diagnostics and treatment. By leveraging digitized medical data, doctors can analyze a patient's situation in fine detail.
Electronic health records (EHRs) provide a better network of services. They can be stored and retrieved in the blink of an eye, enabling specialists, patients, and medical billers to access essential information with the click of a button from any place or time of day.
AI and machine learning systems are revolutionizing the whole world, and the healthcare industry is no exception. AI has many potential medical implementations. It can be used in the early detection and diagnosis of many diseases, to recommend the best treatment options, and even to discover new drug products.
A second perk of AI-based technology is automation. This process makes the organization, searching, and retrieval of documents a faster and easier procedure. Additionally, it can take menial, repetitive tasks and complete them seamlessly in record time.
The study of an individual's genome, known as genomics, can tell us much about a patient. It gives us a complete view of a person's DNA, shows us how genes interact with each other, and how a person's environment affects their biology.
Genome-based research is responsible for improved diagnostics and evidence-based approaches to treatment. It also provides healthcare providers with a new body of knowledge they can use to make better decisions. Via genomic testing, diseases such as cancer can be better understood. It is expected for genomic medicine to aid in the creation of treatments tailored to the genetic makeup of every patient.
The implementation of robotics into healthcare is making huge advancements in the way surgeries are performed and how patients are cared for. Surgical assistance, modular, and autonomous robots can be deployed to improve patient care and outcomes. These are powered by AI-assisted technologies such as automation and real-time patient data analytics, allowing them to help make hard decisions on the fly.
Robotics can also provide patients with physical enhancements. Just as a pair of glasses allows a person with bad eyesight to improve their vision, robotic exoskeletons can help someone with a paralyzed limb to move it again. Robotic exoskeletons also allow the elderly to remain active in old age and even accomplish physically demanding tasks such as climbing a flight of stairs.
In recent years, we have seen the creation of robotic exoskeletons that can allow people with spinal cord injuries to stand up and move. Modern exoskeleton suits can even be controlled with the mind, allowing individuals with paralyzed limbs to walk. While this sort of technology is still in its development stages, it can revolutionize body medicine as we know it (source).
While virtual reality is most commonly thought of as a technology designed for entertainment, its capacity to immerse people in digital worlds has a huge potential for medicine. Doctors can use virtual reality environments to learn how to properly perform complex and delicate procedures.
A VR system can be used to guide a surgeon throughout the procedure in an interactive manner, providing step-by-step instructions and advice. However, the use of VR in medicine extends further. Virtual reality can be used to help people with conditions like anxiety. VR therapy has been proposed as a method of producing virtual life experiences to get anxious individuals to acclimate to the issues that ail them.
Wearable devices such as Smartwatches and Fitbits are becoming more popular by the hour. By using these technologies, essential patient information can be gathered and recorded. If this information is then parsed by AI, it can provide doctors with a clear view of anyone's vital signs. The readings from medical devices can be used to diagnose conditions and suggest evidence-based treatments. Oftentimes, the AI may be able to find the root of a problem even before a doctor.
The necessity for effective vaccination methods has been made quite apparent after the Covid-19 pandemic. Thanks to mRNA vaccinology techniques, it was possible to develop, produce, approve, and deploy a suitable vaccine in less than a year. Moreover, this technology is cost-effective and easy to manufacture, leading to greater public access to life-saving medicines.
mRNA vaccinology promises to quickly and efficiently eliminate many of healthcare's most dire challenges. As methods for generation, purification, and cellular delivery of RNA continue to improve, diseases such as cancer and the Zika virus may become a thing of the past.
Diabetes is a very deadly condition and unfortunately, it is very common. However, the nature of the disease, which consists of uneven levels of insulin in the body, becomes easier to monitor with AI-driven medical technologies. A new, efficient treatment for type 1 diabetes, which prevents the body from producing insulin, is the hybrid closed-loop system. This solution, also known as an artificial pancreas, is able to monitor an individual's blood sugar levels and administer insulin when required.
Novel treatments for type 2 diabetes have also been recently developed. This condition, which affects approximately one in ten people in the US, can be dealt with using weekly injectable dual glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide receptors. These medicines control blood sugar, slow digestion, and help people stay full for longer. Due to this, it can also be considered a suitable treatment for obesity.
By using machine learning AI, physicians have access to precise information about a person's health. This technology can potentially save the lives of people with underlying conditions such as hypertension, which often don't show any symptoms until a significant health crisis occurs. While effective treatment for hypertension does exist, many people are unaware they have the condition until they experience heart failure or a stroke.
AI can also be used to predict cardiovascular morbidities and take action before they become fatal. Machine learning AI can reinterpret the information it is provided in insightful ways. It is able to suggest medications and dosages to improve disease control.
The healthcare system is building a new foundation based on information-based science. Healthcare data is posed to affect every aspect of the industry, from the way medical professionals perform their daily tasks to the development of new drugs, wearable devices, and treatments.
The future of medicine lies in the hands of the visionaries willing to create innovative medical solutions. Entrepreneurs looking to give life to future technologies in the medical field can rely on TechSlice to bring their ideas to fruition.
The panel of Medtech experts behind TechSlice comes from a wide variety of backgrounds. While the focus of the program is software development, aspiring innovators can expect much more. TechSlice's expertise extends to the fields of market research, UX, marketing, branding, strategy, hardware compliance, and product launch.
Through the Medtech Accelerator program, entrepreneurs can receive guidance in all aspects of developing their products and running their companies. The program is specifically to empower a fledgling medical company to develop high-quality products and enjoy greater scalability, market integration, and cost-effectiveness.