Highly advanced tech is transforming the healthcare sector. Its increased use in medical procedures and treatments is slashing medical costs and improving people’s lives worldwide. From 3D printed prosthetics to 5G insulin pens, these are the five tech trends that are set to transform the healthcare sector.
Would you trust a robot with your life? Medical robots are being rolled out in operating theatres across the globe. In fact, The American Society of Mechanical Engineers has predicted that by 2023, the global surgical robotics market will be worth $20 billion. At the moment, robotics are typically being used to transport medical equipment, sanitise healthcare environments, and enhance prosthetics. Some are even used for more advanced applications, such as targeting radiation to a specific part of the body that has a tumour. There is also an increasing trend for rehabilitation robots. These robots can be programmed to adapt to the condition of each patient as they recover from strokes, traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries, or neurobehavioral or neuromuscular diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
2. Medical smartphone apps
Gone are the days where you need to phone up the doctors and book an appointment. There are apps available that enable you to book consultations, schedule medication subscriptions and even have video calls with your doctor. These innovative new phone apps were beneficial during the Covid-19 pandemic, as patients could negate the risk of going into a doctors surgery or pharmacy for their medical needs. For example, the Dhani Services app provides 26 million people with access to video consultations and affordable medicines. As smartphones become more intelligent, they have become extremely helpful tools for monitoring medical conditions. Fitness data, such as heart rate monitoring, can be collected over time and inform doctor diagnoses and even early intervention.
3. AI drug discovery
AI, or ‘machine learning’, is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines. AI has already been used to great effect in agriculture, transportation and finance, and is now being proliferated on a massive scale within the healthcare sector. We are now able to produce medicines faster and cheaper with the help of AI. Leading biopharmaceutical companies, such as Pfizer, have already jumped on the trend and are using machine learning to identify immuno-oncology drugs quickly to slash the costs of producing them – which can often spiral into billions of dollars.
4. Medical ‘Internet of Things’
The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is a broad term that describes how physical objects are interconnected through the internet. One example is how you can use your phone to switch off a light switch in your kitchen. Although the IoT cannot be used to switch off ailments like a lightbulb, the technology can be harnessed to improve patient monitoring significantly. Patients can wear wearable devices that transmit important medical results to doctors who are monitoring a medical condition that they are suffering from. 5G technology is also being integrated into insulin pens for people living with diabetes to monitor their blood sugar levels. In addition to these, another great trend that is being widely introduced is spectrometer, a scientific device that can separate a certain physical property into individual ranges and measure them.
5. 3D printing
You can 3D print virtually anything to a remarkable degree of accuracy. This is why it has taken the healthcare sector by storm. One such example is 3D printed prosthetics. Communities around the world can access open-source data, which forms the blueprint to making a new leg, arm or hand, for example. This means that healthcare specialists can quickly and easily print a prosthetic body part, which significantly reduces the cost of traditional methods of producing prosthetics. This is particularly relevant to children who often quickly outgrow their prosthetics. ‘Bioprinting’ is a form of 3D printing that is being used to grow replacement tissues and organs in the laboratory for use in treating injury and disease.