Technology has infiltrated virtually every aspect of our lives, from how we relax to how we exercise. Streaming apps have become the norm and it’s no question that wearable technology has improved the lives of many people, whether you’re trying to get fit or simply live a better life as an older person. While technology has become ingrained in our day-to-day lives, its biggest impact has definitely been on the medical field.
The medical industry is, perhaps, one of the most important industries in the United States. When it comes to keeping people healthy — and dealing with pandemics — none are so important as those on the frontlines of health. Recent advancements in medical technology have propelled our medical professionals into the next century; what used to take doctors hours now takes mere minutes. This is not only better for the doctors who have to treat countless people each day, but it’s also great for the patients who don’t want to put their lives on hold for a common check-up.
Recent advancements in medical technology have truly transformed the medical field, whether we’re discussing natural medicine or splicing the human genome. If you’re interested in learning more about these recent advancements in medical technology, buckle up: you’re about to go for a ride over the last decade.
Telemedicine and telehealth interactions
Back in the day, hardworking adults would have to take an entire day traveling to and from the doctors’ office for a simple check-up. This process could take even longer if X-ray services or other in-depth testing needed to take place. While there’s no replacement for specialty testing, check-ups and other small-time health issues are better managed thanks to the advent of telemedicine.
Imagine talking to your doctor face to face without ever having to leave the comfort of your home. This might have sounded like something from a science fiction movie a few decades ago, but it makes sense that we would want to talk to our doctors in a way that is similar to how we Facetime our friends.
Telemedicine works by enabling a patient to talk to a distant doctor from their home. Both parties can speak face to face by using their phone or computer’s camera. This is better than simply talking over the phone since video chatting enables the doctor to assess injuries, read the patient’s body language, and get a more complete idea of the medical issue or problem at hand. Receiving a full assessment via video chat is one of the best ways that people in rural areas are able to get much-needed healthcare. It also saves time for busy professionals, and it even enables people that are traveling overseas to get into contact with their primary care physician back in the United States.
Telemedicine is not necessarily new to the healthcare sector; however, the rate at which it is growing is undeniable and countless recent advancements in medical technology have made telemedicine all the more reliable — and all the more used. Everyone from primary care physicians to back and spine specialists are using this nuanced technology to better serve their patients. In this time of social distancing, relying on telehealth services is one of the best ways to get medical help without putting yourself at risk. This is also great for the hospitals that need every extra bed available for COVID-19 sufferers. Since website designers have already developed software for healthcare providers in mind, individual medical facilities don’t have to uproot their entire medical system to implement telemedicine services. By relying on a third-party software or another telemedicine service, healthcare practitioners are able to offer the best medical service without sacrificing the medical resources needed for COVID-19 patients.
The start of this piece noted the importance of wearable technology for elderly folks and fitness enthusiasts alike. But to gloss over this medical advent would not be doing its widespread appeal — and benefits — justice.
According to some studies, wearable tech has increased at a compound rate of 16.4% annually, making it a fast-growing market across the globe. It’s obvious that wearable technology has taken mainstream consumerism by storm. Nowadays, it’s rare to see folks without a FitBit or an Apple Watch or another similar health-tracking option on their wrist.
However, it’s more than just mainstream wearable tech that has made an impact in the medical community. These wearable sensors can also alert medical personnel when a slip and fall takes place, a heart attack occurs, or when another health issue might arise. Since these types of technology rely on sensors that track your vitals throughout the day, it’s easy for people to determine when the health issue first began. This is essential for proving that a slip and fall took place at a certain time for lawyers, but it’s also vital for medical personnel who can track the onset of symptoms pertaining to a health crisis. This better enables medical professionals to determine the best course of health care when an event like this occurs.
Wearable tech might not seem as advanced as a nuanced invention like LiDAR technology, but wearable tech is ever-evolving. In fact, some medical sensors can even detect changes in the pH of someone’s skin. This is essential for those recovering from a serious laceration or another injury. By noting changes in the patient’s pH levels, doctors can tell if a cut has become infected. While these recent advancements in medical technology aren’t typically used in the home, it’s becoming more common in medical facilities across the United States.
Genome research for cancer treatment
At one point, many medical professionals though of genome sequencing as a specialty project. However, thanks to advents in technology, genome sequencing is quickly becoming a part of every major medical facility’s arsenal of tools.
Now that we better understand human genomes, we have realized that the one-size-fits-all approach does not always work, especially when it comes to the treatment of cancers. Healthcare writer, Theresa Kelly, notes that it’s one of the most important recent advancements in medical technology:
“In my opinion, this is probably the most relevant breakthrough in healthcare over the last decade,” she notes. “Being able to tailor treatments towards the exact needs of individuals is breathtaking.”
Genome sequencing can also work as a tool for foresight. By anticipating potential risk factors shown in the genome, doctors and medical professionals are better able to utilize prevention efforts, effectively lowering the cost of treatment in the long-run. It’s also vital for correcting misdiagnoses that cost the healthcare community thousands upon thousands of unnecessary treatments and costs.
For example, genome sequencing might reveal that a certain treatment might not work well with a person’s specific genetic makeup. While someone might benefit from stem cell therapy, another person might be better helped with simpler, more affordable options. There’s no doubt that genome-based research helps improve diagnostics across the board, saving time and resources at hospitals everywhere. It is certainly one of the best recent advancements in medical technology today.
Prosthetic limbs are nothing new in the medical community, but robotic exoskeletons might be their most recent highlight.
Robotic exoskeletons that are designed to assist the paraplegic have been in development for a while. These are specifically tailored for those who have lost mobility due to a spine injury or other malformation. By wearing a robotic exoskeleton, people who aren’t able to move well are able to wear this suit and control their movement via controls on a remote mounted to the wearer’s wrist.
The exoskeleton designed by Argo first received FDA approval back in 2011 and more companies were eager to follow suit. Another company was able to build an exoskeleton that relied on neurotransmissions between the paraplegic patient and the exoskeleton suit. With two surgically-placed implants that connected the wearer to a computer, these neurological signals were then passed to the exoskeleton suit, allowing the person to walk. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the suit is intuitive enough to prevent something surprising, like a fall, but it’s a great step in the direction to helping differently-abled individuals.
Virtual reality systems for doctors, students, and more
Virtual reality is one of the hottest trends among gamers, but it’s also catching on among doctors and health students. Thanks to new technological advancements in VR technology, medical students and doctors are able to practice surgery procedures before they ever enter the operating room. This can help a medical professional determine difficulties throughout the surgery process and encourage students to rehearse procedures. This is essential for young students who might not know what they are getting into, but it’s also great for students with plenty of experience who are about to go into their first surgery, whether that be an organ removal or a root canal determined by poor dental care. VR enables the user to get a better idea of how the body works in a more hands-on way than by reading a simple textbook.
If you’re worried about VR failing, have no fear: virtual reality is a completely immersive experience, separating it from other common reality generators like augmented reality (AR technology). This tool can also save on other aspects of medical resources since students will be able to practice in VR instead of on an actual, expensive cadaver.
However, VR technology extends far beyond your usual lab equipment. It’s also able to help patients recover from injuries and surgeries more quickly. When VR is used by the patient, these systems can help them better understand treatment plans and speed along their recovery. This is especially beneficial if a patient needs rehabilitation services or guided exercises to regain their strength. If a patient is suffering from a mental health issue, VR is all the better. The immersive experience is great for those suffering from phobias or delivers life-saving information during a mental health crisis.
When it comes to recent advancements in medical technology, virtual reality simulators is helping people across the board.
Some of these medical technologies have been around for more than the last decade, but the innovations which have occurred in this time frame are astounding. Now, patients can meet with their doctors right from their Mac computer. They can engage in rehabilitation exercises and monitor their health in new ways that we have never seen before. During this period of unease, it’s important to remember the good things that are working to help our medical professionals at this time.
With a new decade staring us down, we can only hope that more innovative medical technologies will continue to develop. If you want to get a better grasp on your health, consider these recent advancements in medical technology while you’re staying healthy at home.