Fusion Medicine- Expanding horizons in healthcare
It would not be inappropriate to refer to the current era of medicine as emerging platform for eHealth with technology becoming the driving force in healthcare. The infusion of technology into medical practice in the present decade has been tremendous and has expanded its horizons in healthcare. The conventional restricted boundaries of specialized medicine and its practice are slowly dissolving with penetration of technology. Conventional boundaries earlier created a restricted and well demarcated zone of clinical practice, wherein we would see the radiologist restricted to imaging, cardiologist restricted to OP clinic or inpatient care and a surgeon within the confines of the operating room. Technology has fast expanded to invade into these areas and blur these boundaries distinctly and tangibly.
Today we see the radiologist looking beyond just interpreting images, but also performing interventional procedures on patients leading to new breed of interventional radiologists. Similarly the surgeons today using the aid of intra operative CT scans during surgeries to perform Image guided and robotic surgeries that offer better patient safety. The Cardiologist is seen to go beyond the confines of clinical medicine into the surgical room to practice interventional cardiology with placement of cardiac stents and other clinico-surgical interventions. This wave of technology has encompassed every field of medicine and has altered their conventional roles beyond demarcated boundaries earlier thought of. Newer terminologies such as clinical scientist or surgeon scientist have today emerged in healthcare to accommodate translational research spurring from technological advances into genomics, proteomics or metabolomics. These advances have given us a glimpse of possibilities to be explored in science to their very depths in the years to come.
We today stand at the confluence of technology and medical science to make way for a new breed of specialists. The future creative space will be filled by these technologies carving inroads to bring about the new breed of specialists customized to address specific clinical needs of current times. This creative space has begun to make way for clinicians to explore innovations as a part of professional career to address clinical conundrums through technological innovations.
There is a much-needed effort to strengthen this emerging subspecialty of medical technology. Brining the engineering and medical university to work together for collective research proposals could be a good head start. In this seemingly unstoppable tech revolution entering medical space, it is important to acknowledge its profound impact on patient care.
The rapid advance in technology is confounded by rather slower acceptance in clinical forum to imbibe these technologies. It is obvious that every time a technological advancement in witnessed in medicine, the clinician’s proficiency may reduce (Graph depicted). It takes time and training to accommodate and incorporate newer tech trends into his clinical practice in order to deliver good clinical outcomes or impact practices. There is hence a strong need to address this disequilibrium through effective medical education and training.
With rapidly advancing pace of technological invasion into medical arena, medical education and healthcare providers may need to incorporate training for medical professionals in these areas and into curriculum in medical schools. This education and training would be crucial to imbibe the technological advances into clinical practice. This would encourage medical professionals to pursue the field of medical innovations as entrepreneurs and impact patient care into the grassroot levels.
The pacing technological space in healthcare innovations will make way for a new generation of fusion medicine with technology experts joining hands with medical specialties to deliver patient care. This group of medtech experts will lay foundation for next generation advances in medicine.
The writer is Dr.Vishal Rao U.S, Consultant-Head & Neck Surgeon, HealthCare Global (HCG) Cancer Center and Member High Powered Committee- Tobacco Control,Government of Karnataka.