(Gloucestercitynews.net)(Nov. 28,2019)--We’ve come a long way from leeches. The high-tech boom of the Information and Innovation Ages has melded with the healthy-living craze. Cutting-edge technologies help us live longer, happier, and healthier lives.
Here are four amazing technologies for improving our health every day ...
1. Software as a Medical Device
We get it—you already had to learn what SaaS means, but now you have to learn SaMD? Nevertheless, according to Orthogonal, “SaMD is proving to be a major disruptive force in the way healthcare professionals do their work, in areas such as bioinformatics, drug discovery, genomics, point-of-care diagnostics, robotics, and therapeutics.”
SaMD basically uses software to perform one or several basic medical functions. Examples include:
- Artificially-intelligent software that examines MRI scans for signs of cardiovascular disease.
- Software that recommends insulin dosage for a diabetic patient based on inputs from a patient’s cloud-based food log.
- Software that determines the correct dosage of the medication for an individual, based on that individual’s cloud-based medical records.
- Software that identifies signs of respiratory conditions based on breathing patterns recorded by the microphone.
- Software that tracks the risk factors contributing to epileptic seizures.
SaMD should be distinguished from SiMD (software in a medical device) which includes programs that automate surgical robots or the magnets inside an MRI machine.
Instead of performing these mechanical functions, SaMD apps work in tandem with cloud-based data and wearable devices to provide medical professionals with a wealth of actionable data they couldn’t possibly get from a brief clinic visit (or the clipboard you fill out before the visit).
2. Wearable Health-Tracking Devices
There’s no need to guess when the doctor asks you whether you lead an active or sedentary life. Why guess when a cheap pedometer will tell you exactly how many steps you have taken over the course of a week? A month? A year?
In a way, wearable tech started with the wristwatch or pocket watch and took a long leap forward with the cell phone and then the smartphone. Technologies like the Apple Watch have made a clunky transition into the mainstream, but FitBits made a huge splash. HuffPo estimated that by 2018, 130 million wearable devices would have been delivered to consumers.
According to Business Insider Intelligence, a whopping 80%+ of consumers express a willingness to wear fitness technology.
It’s not just about tracking steps, though. Wearable electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors stand to make a huge difference for patients living with heart conditions. A wearable ECG monitor can transmit data directly to your doctor, as well as your atrial fibrillation and details like your elevation, distance, and pace.
This year, Omron Healthcare debuted the first wearable blood pressure monitor to track daily blood pressure readings for patients at risk of hypertension, correlating it with geographical, environmental, and physical exertion data.
Phillips also released a wearable biosensor patch, like those given to astronauts, which shows the promise of an almost 89% reduction in preventable respiratory or cardiac arrest. What a time to be alive … and, presumably, stay alive.
No, we don’t mean we will pay all our medical bills with Bitcoin.
Blockchain technology usually makes the news for its role in the cryptocurrency craze. But while crypto is built on blockchain, blockchain is not crypto. The reality is far less sexy … and far more revolutionary.
“Blockchain” refers to a process where “blocks” of data exist on a “chain,” a digital, decentralized, and public ledger that exists simultaneously on thousands of individual computers.
As a result, blockchains are easy to audit and almost impossible to hack or falsify. This is why people trust it with systems of currency.
Where else do you need transparency, security, and integrity of data. All over the medical profession, of course. According to Healthcare Weekly, “Digital blockchains stand to revolutionize how the medical industry creates drugs, runs clinical trials, gathers medical records, and renders care.” In other words, pretty much the whole shebang.
How does blockchain do this? In many ways:
- Warehousing of Pharmaceutical Data. Blockchain and AI technology could standardize and maintain the integrity of the data that pharma companies use to create drugs.
- Fighting Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals. Pharma companies could reduce the $200+ billion in losses they suffer from counterfeit drugs by shoring up the supply chain with unhackable, unimpeachable blockchain records.
- Siloing Clinical Trial Data. No technology shows more promise than blockchain to create unalterable, auditable, secure databases of clinical trial data, which can be browsed by AI for relevant patterns. Blockchain could also bring data integrity to the identification of viable trial subjects.
- Managing Patient Consent. Blockchain’s biggest contribution to the business community may be “smart contracts”—e-signature records beyond reproach. This could apply to patient consent, as well as other hospital contracts.
- Patient Intake. Hey, what if you didn’t have to fill out a clipboard in every hospital waiting room and then wait for that data to be input before the doctor sees you? Blockchain offers a secure solution for patient intake before you arrive at the doctor’s office.
- Verifying Physician Credentials. Fraudulent physicians and unlicensed quacks are a real liability for hospitals. A transparent, easily-audited blockchain database could replace “scout’s honor” or burdensome research to verify a provider’s qualifications.
The global healthcare marketplace is expected to spend $5.61 billion on blockchain technology by the year 2025 … and save $100-$150 billion as a result.
Online medical records facilitated by blockchain could work together with wearable devices and SaMD to completely change how patients track their health and how medical professionals deliver care.
The mapping of the first human genome in 2003 was a medical milestone. The next frontier is the mapping of your own genome. Yes, each person’s unique genome, which contains its own inalterable “blockchain” of data about that person’s physiology.
Genomics stands to take personalized medical treatment to the next level. Doctors can take a much less scattershot approach to treatment, therapy, and medication, instead of tailoring a treatment plan to the data found in the patient’s genome. It really is the application of a data-driven age to the very cells of our body and the DNA inside of them.
Genomics stands to:
- Reduce our intake of inefficient medications.
- Reduce the application of unnecessary surgeries.
- Revolutionize the treatment of cancer.
- Provide treatment options for genetic disorders like Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Angleman’s Syndrome, and many more.