Newer technology has changed healthcare scenario
For decades, consulting a doctor was a lengthy process involving going to the hospital, taking a token and waiting for your turn. And paper was the major medium in which the patients information, medical history, diagnosis and treatment was documented. But all of this changed with the advent of smart phones into the market. Newer technology has also enabled doctors to use e-mail, texts, videos, and conference facilities to consult colleagues from all over the world. This practice, known as telemedicine, is especially useful for doctors and patients in rural and under-developed areas. Without moving patients, doctors can consult experts from all over the world to diagnose, treat, and research conditions without needing access to a sophisticated hospital. Telemedicine was used effectively after the 2010 Haiti earthquake and will no doubt be refined for future use. Conversion of the paper records to Electronic Health Records (EHRs) has helped doctors to effectively get the entire patients medical history at the push of a button.
3D Printed Biological Materials: At the dawn of rapid prototyping, a common predication was that 3D printing would transform manufacturing, spurring a consumer revolution that would put a printer in every home. That hasn’t quite happened and like so many emerging technologies, rapid prototyping has found its foothold in a surprisingly different field: Medicine. Here are seven applications of 3D printers in healthcare that could have an important impact in the future- Embryonic Stem Cells, Printing Skin, Blood Vessels and Heart Tissue, Replacing Cartilage and Bone, Studying Cancer, Patching a Broken Heart, Replacement Organs.
Wearable health care tech: Lot of companies are coming out with gadgets that can record our heart rate, calories expended, and steps taken—one can only think of how this technology could likely be used on a greater scale to help those who truly need it the most- people with chronic medical illnesses such as emphysema, diabetes, or congestive heart failure. Few interesting products are smart contact lenses which are able to measure glucose levels in tears, electronic sensor tattoos which monitor skin hydration, temperature and any electric signals from muscle and brain activity, smart fitness bands which measure a range of activities from paces walked to hours slept, smart watches monitoring heart rate and all-day calorie burnt.
Non -invasive health care: For the chronically ill, constant blood tests is a way of life. But few people enjoy getting blood drawn every day, let alone making frequent trips to the local lab. Enter the non-invasive blood test, which analyses blood via a wrist band and automatically sends the information to your doctor. If anything abnormal shows up, like a drop in iron levels or a higher white blood cell count users will instantly know to get help. Dermatologists have tools for multispectral analysis of tissue morphology. This minimizes the need for invasive surgical biopsy to know for sure that its melanoma. Similarly we have a Needle-Free Diabetes Care replacing the traditional poke with a patch.
Point of care devices: Point of care medical technologies, loosely construed, consist of a family of devices and interventions focused on bringing healthcare past the “last mile” into the home. Formerly simply the domain of wireless-enabled common medical devices such as pulse oxymeters, bathroom scales, and sphygmomanometers, point of care medical technology has now expanded to envelop the entire continuum of care. It is critical that these technologies have within them sufficient information processing and algorithmic power that they are able to provide decision level support to the individual user in real time. POCT is often accomplished through the use of transportable, portable, and handheld instruments (e.g., blood glucose meter, nerve conduction study device) and test kits (e.g., CRP, HBA1C, Homocystein, HIV salivary assay, etc.), portable ECG, ultrasound scanning devices etc. More rapid decision making and triage, reduce operating times, reduce high-dependency, postoperative care time, reduce emergency room time, reduce number of outpatient clinic visits, reduce number of hospital beds required, ensure optimal use of professional time are among the major benefits.
The writer is Dr. GSK Velu, Founder and Managing Director,Trivitron.