MACHINE VISION AT THE POINT OF CARE(POC): REVOLUTIONIZING HEALTHCARE
Skype can be used to keep in touch with friends and family. Maybe you use it to collaborate and communicate with business partners. Have you ever had a doctor’s appointment through Skype? You will, and it will happen sooner than you think. The healthcare sector is rapidly changing, and telemedicine (such as our hypothetical Skype doctor’s “visit”) is one of many new game-changers. Here are five technologies that are changing the way we think about healthcare.
Medical diagnosis is more precise than ever before, with technologies like the CryoAB scanner and MR angiogram capable of detecting and treating disease earlier in the body and imaging it in more detail than ever before. Many large clinical trials (with even higher-level involvement from researchers and device manufacturers) are no longer performed in controlled environments and instead take place in real-world settings, such as research clinics and patient homes. What this means is that, unlike traditional trials, these new tests, which are cutting edge and often require minimal human involvement, can collect data in environments where human error and chance can make them significantly more accurate.
Wearable technology is very different from most technology you may use on a daily basis. For starters, it’s inexpensive. For those who want to improve health and save time, the price tag is negligible. Wearable technology has already proven its worth in healthcare, specifically to patients with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. With wearables, diabetes patients can monitor their glucose levels 24/7. When a diabetic patient’s blood sugar reaches a high level, their smartwatch alerts them that they need to take action to prevent a severe low-blood sugar episode. Wearable devices can also be used to measure physical activity levels, sleep quality, and even diet—and correlate these to actual measures of quality of life.
Think of robotic surgery as a “Trial and Error” version of surgery. With this relatively new technology, a surgeon can control an instrument on the end of a robotic arm with his or her fingers. This enables surgeons to perform a number of surgical procedures at extremely low volumes and without too much collateral damage to surrounding organs. Many surgeons will tell you this makes a big difference when it comes to doing fewer but better-quality procedures. Virtual Training One of the most significant advantages of virtual reality (VR) training is that it’s available anytime, anywhere. Once deployed, any technician or student can log in and virtually experience a number of complex challenges that would never be part of their actual work experience.
For many patients suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, talking to a therapist can be one of the best ways to relieve symptoms, develop coping strategies, and heal and maintain mental health. However, treatment options can be limited by geography. In an innovative use of telemedicine, some clinics are using remote patients to help guide psychologists to the ideal candidate to offer therapy. The patient, known as a remote “viewer,” works with the remote therapist to take notes and describe the results of the session. Those notes are then sent to the therapist for feedback. Chronic Illness Management In the past decade, the amount of chronic and long-term diseases that affect more than one in five Americans has grown exponentially.
This series of articles is designed to give you an overview of the trends and technologies currently transforming healthcare. Over the next several months, we’ll be detailing each of these innovations as well as the challenges and opportunities surrounding their deployment.