Healthcare and digital innovation in healthcare is often cited as tools of effectiveness and efficiency, essential to guarantee the sustainability of the Health service. At the same time, in recent years, the sector has undergone some profound innovations, for example, the development of innovative drugs or the technological development of medical diagnostic equipment.
There is, no cultural barrier to innovation in healthcare, although, as demonstrated by the recent analyses Polytechnic, investments are struggling to take off. Furthermore, despite the availability of millions of data (digitized and not) to date, it is not possible to take advantage of information relevant to the healthcare of the citizens. Is something changing?
1. The inadequacy of "hospital-centric" models of taking charge and the need to articulate care paths that integrate different care settings and professionalism in medicine that must be increasingly personalized.
2. The explosion of data: wearable equipment and biomedical nanotechnology allow individuals to control vital parameters. The new genome sequencing techniques have led to doubling of the genetic data produced daily every seven months; medical literature now generates more than one article every 40 seconds.
3. The availability of new technologies that, for the first time, allow us to analyze, understand, and correlate large amounts of structured and unstructured data. For instance, cognitive systems and new computing capacities are ensuring the traceability and security of information (with the blockchain).
From 3D printing to virtual reality, technological innovations will bring great news in the medical field, improving the assistance offered to patients. When it comes to robotics applied to this sector, various types of devices are included in the discussion from the surgical robot to the assistant, up to the pharma-robotics or exoskeletons. It cannot be excluded that robots can soon become part of the medical team of any hospital, carrying out tasks ranging from measuring a patient's pulse to surgery. However, robots already have a massive presence in the medical field today, and their work aimed at carrying out the least invasive procedures on the patient is growing rapidly. To date, robotic surgery already has its own history and some protagonists who work alongside medical personnel in the operating room.
One of the most well-known robotic systems in the sector is called Da Vinci, and the automaton does not act on its own. The surgeon is guiding its arms on which the necessary instruments are placed. Robots are also excellent tools in the field of prostheses. In MIT’s biomedicine laboratory, researchers created gyroscopically operated robotic limbs that can track human position in space and adjust joints upward 750 times per second.
But one of the major innovations lies in the development of neural implant systems prosthesis and voluntarily controls it as it does with normal limbs.
Artificial intelligence and medicine will walk hand in hand. Artificial intelligence is an excellent tool for customizing patient treatment. Each individual responds to treatments and medications in a different way, which is why when a doctor decides which treatment to undergo, the patient has no certainty about the response. In this work, it is very difficult to identify and statistically establish which factors should influence the choice of the therapeutic plan.
This is where machine learning comes into play, which, due to a specific algorithm is able to compare similar patients and their respective treatments and results. With this in mind, artificial intelligence would help predict a patient's likely response to a particular treatment by facilitating human work.
Virtual healthcare, also known as telemedicine, allows remote diagnosis and related therapies. Convenience and ease of use are the main reasons why patients choose virtual care.
Telemedicine and wearable technology go hand in hand. Many patients use wearable devices to monitor any health changes and to share the data obtained with their doctor.
Telemedicine can be used in many fields, in particular in a sector such as the assistance of those suffering from cardiovascular diseases. Tele monitoring technology can monitor vital signs, symptoms, and even blood levels, even from a remote location.
A very simple and affordable example is KardiaMobiledi AliveCor, which is a device that works as an electrocardiogram, and that can be used due to an app on your smartphone. The data collected can then be sent to your doctor directly with an e-mail. The use of telemedicine means fewer patients in waiting rooms and, therefore, shorter times and better access in rural areas.
Although normally associated with entertainment, virtual reality also finds its place in the healthcare sector. The multi-sensory and immersive experience provided by VR can be useful for both doctors and patients.
Virtual reality appears to be an extremely efficient tool for both teaching and treatment. This technology can be used to train health professionals as it allows a realistic simulation of reality by lowering the risk percentage. In the future, students will most likely be able to attend surgery by simulating surgery with a scalpel in hand.
Virtual reality has a strong potential also in the therapeutic field, especially for rehabilitation and to treat anxiety disorders.
VR is finding space in the study of diseases that are currently incurable, such as autism and Asperger's syndrome. People with these conditions require treatment that involves sessions with the doctor. With the help of virtual reality, it is possible to reduce the number of face-to-face meetings between doctor and patient as it allows you to study the social interactions of autistic children by including virtual characters.
So also, the use of virtual reality is being tested in the study of the effects of Alzheimer's disease. In the USA, there are about 5 million Alzheimer's patients. Memory loss can affect several families around the world, and it is not yet well understood which mechanism is interrupted in the regeneration of memories due to this disorder.
Brain implants and VR activities: The neuroscientists, to get a deeper insight into the topic, have chosen to employ a combination of brain implants and VR activities to study the behavior of patients in an immersive experience and thus capture brain signals and oscillations. 3D printing has come a long way since its debut, especially in the healthcare sector. By using this new technology, it is possible to create various prototypes, from prostheses to polypills quickly.
3D printing is revolutionizing the medical sector, noteworthy innovations concern transplants and tissue restoration; this new technology is even capable of producing realistic skin for burn victims. There is a real revolution in health care. The combination of new technologies with scientific progress could guarantee a better health service and better care for all patients in the future.