Technologies are changing the world around us, in fact – they do it quickly. But when it comes to medicine, it is possible to state the following. Technology will not solve the problems that are worldwide public health crises.
But the people on their own can not cope, so you need to create a balance between the introduction of technology into our lives and the preservation of human relationships between the patient and the doctor. Here are 11 of the newest technologies and ideas that should help us in the establishment of such a world.
Health sensors for portable diagnostics
Smartphones used as biosensors, and wearable medical devices allow patients to measure almost any parameter of health right at home. And this means that the information and health data will eventually be available not only to “sorcerers in the medical tower”, but also houses a mere mortal.
In this way, people may be able to better monitor their health and, moreover, to better manage his or her body. And lifestyle will adjust to the requirements of these devices who want to make us healthier.
Already there are applications that teach us how to eat, we will soon be able to measure the amount of calories in the food that we eat. We also can already measure the blood oxygen saturation changes in our rate, ECG, EEG and more.
Artificial intelligence in the diagnosis and decision-making
Even the most well-known doctors and professors can keep in mind the limited amount of information, clinical trials and case studies, data on complicated cases. But today only in the database Pubmed.com (National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, USA) 23 million documents. And no man is able to master all these intellectual wealth. But recently, the first projects, which suggests that help is close at hand.
The supercomputer Watson, IBM has been tested in several clinics to support medical decision-making. While the doctor communicates with the patient, Watson looks at patients’ medical records and the global literature that is relevant to the case in question, and then issues the proposal. And each time, the doctor makes a final conclusion, already having all the information available.
End of an era of experimentations on humans
Even now we are still testing new drugs and substances on humans. Some of the subjects receive the drug, the other – the control group – a dummy placebo, which allows then to see the difference. But today, several research groups working on creating the first virtual psychological model of the human body.
Using this model, it will be possible to test thousands of new substances, billions of models patients can be examined to find out the side effects or toxic components of new drugs. And all this with the help of a supercomputer. The most famous example of such a project – Hummod.
Some doctors are already using Google Glass for showing the progress of the operation, medical students, allowing them to train a whole new way. Such a device also allows you to talk to the patient during medical reception, not turning to the monitor to read his medical records or enter new information there.
Special glasses Evena enable nurses to see the veins through which blood flows, which ensures accuracy when injected into the blood vessels. Opportunities that arise with such technologies, are almost limitless.
Social media and their influence
This is not a real and unique technology, but on the whole social media play an important role in initiating the process of patient involvement in health care. Today, patients are given access to all health information about themselves, which until now has been available only to medical professionals.
Moreover, it is possible to have contact with other people with the same health problems. An example of such an organization is communication SmartPatients – an online community where patients and carers, people exchange experiences on patient care, treatment, clinical cases, the latest scientific data, learning how it all fit for their particular case.
Biotechnology with own hands
With the advent of a new generation of researchers and innovators, such as, for example, Jack Andraka, who at 15 years of age has invented a new test for pancreatic cancer, the principles of scientific research began to change completely.
Open access to public data bases and open exchange of documents, as well as open to all laboratories, such as DIYbio (Do-It-Yourself Biologist), allow many people to work out their ideas and conduct experiments.
Genomics for the common man
With development of genomics technologies, anyone can gain access to their own genomic sequence, ordering her company, which specializes in this. A few years ago the cost of this was approximately $ 3 billion dollars, and now the price is only about 1 – 2 thousand dollars, and after some time, the process of obtaining genomic sequence will be even cheaper than shipping the sample.
Although we can not take a lot of medical decisions based on such “clean” data, the analysis of our DNA will soon be able to give us the opportunity to make better decisions that will determine our future. And then the era of personalized medicine, in which we will accept only those medicines which were created under our own genomics finally become a reality.
Surgical and humanoid robots
The world already has thousands of surgical robots of daVinchi. Some medical schools are starting to train future surgeons in the skills needed to control the robot, instead of doing the surgery itself. This craft is becoming more complex and also more reliable and intuitive.
Soon robots will be so accurate that they will be able to convert the motion of the human hand in the ultra-precise movement of the robot. Perhaps the time will come in which in areas where not enough doctors, simple surgery will be performed by a doctor who controls the robot from another city.
Here is another example – a telemedicine company InTouch Health is developing a telemedicine robot for emergency care, which allows the doctor to be where he is needed at least half virtually.
Control with thought
We all dreamed about telepathy, reading fantasy books, and it is unknown whether our dreams are ever realized. But now there are technologies that allow seriously ill people to use the power of thought, where they can not handle because of their weakness.
For example, the company developed the Emotiv EPOC Neuroheadset – a system that allows a person to operate a computer, giving him a mental command. This device has the potential to create new opportunities for patients who, due to illness can not move. It can allow them to manage electronic wheelchair, virtual keyboard and do many other things.
Philips and Accenture began to develop a device for reading the electroencephalogram (EEG) to ensure that people with limited mobility using mental commands can manipulate things, to which it is impossible to reach.
This feature is very necessary paralyzed people who can not control his hands. In particular, the device should help to do simple things: turn on the lights and the TV can even control the mouse cursor. What opportunities await these technologies, we can only speculate, but there is much to suggest.
Additional physical opportunities for man
If we can “fix” the lost limb or diseased tissue of the human body, then we only need one step to this increase in human capabilities and add new capabilities. Artificial devices such as i-Limb Ultra company Touch Bionics, almost become a substitute for the human hand.
The company Ekso Bionics now is training nearly 3 thousand patients who were paralyzed from the waist down, the opportunity to begin to walk again with the help of the exoskeleton. On the ship’s factory in Korea some workers already work every day, putting on the exoskeletons of various modifications, “imprisoned” for a specific job function.
It’s great if we can jump higher, run faster, or be smarter just because we use technology inside and outside of our body? However, such ideas cause strong resistance and eventually they have to be discussed publicly, and not only at the level of academia.
Nanobots, living in our blood
In the more distant future, robots the size of a few nanometers can live in our blood and prevent possible disease, indicating the patient about what is happening. They can interact with our bodies to measure all parameters of health and act if necessary.
On the other hand, imagine what opportunities it provides and how bioterrorism could be vulnerable our personal lives and the information about it. In the future, people will have to find the right balance in this area, before these technologies are already available to us.