The why here is about why I am choosing to write about this topic. While I feel like this topic has already been pretty well explored. I also feel like many people could benefit from re-exploring how technology has impacted the face of medicine. I hope to give the reader an appreciation for how things have been accelerated and to provide them with hope if needed.
This article will adhere to the following format
- Increased Outreach / Communication
- 3D Printing
- Big Data
As we all could've all guessed, by how long we've had to wait to see a doctor, they are very busy people. With that being said before technology really came into play in the medical field it was difficult for doctors to easily reach patients and vice versa. Now through the power of the internet and web applications, technologies focused on improving the link in between patients and doctors have emerged.
In the past one might have had to wait for a letter to come in the mail or a phone call discussing results of tests. With mail the issue is that you have to wait a couple days for it to arrive and with a phone call you can only go into so much detail.
Now, apps like Medici and SoundCare have removed these barriers and improved the overall communication in between patients and doctors. These apps have allowed secure messaging, appointment requests, lab result sharing, documenting personal information, and even voice communication. This has allowed patients to ask health related questions easily and has let doctors answer those questions in less time than before.
Besides of the convenience of being able to reach your doctor via an app technology has also increased outreach and communication within the medical community as well.
Let's play a bit of pretend. You are now a doctor (hooray), and a patient has come in with an issue you just can't seem to diagnose. In the past a doctor may have continued to struggle with diagnosis or just sent the patient home without one. Now, you as a doctor can use medical reference apps such as Epocrates and Medscape to assist with diagnosis. If that also doesn't help you can reach out to a vast community of doctors from all over the world via a forum, blog, or email. Someone somewhere has probably seen something similar and with technology the distance from you and that someone is no longer an issue.
3D printing has an ever growing number of applications in many industries and the medical industry is no exception.
Kaiser Permanente's Los Angles Medical Center is perfecting the use of 3D printing to replicate multidimensional models of problematic areas inside patients. Surgeons can handle the models and simulate a variety of possible operation replicas before performing the actual surgery.
3D printing goes beyond just helping surgeons prepare for surgery, it also helps the handicap-able. A prosthetic hand can cost thousands of dollars; however, a 3D printed prosthesis could be made for as little as $50. 3D printing materials cannot yet replace the long-term durability of traditionally-made prostheses. However, this will soon change. In the meantime, technology is making cost-effective prosthetics a reality and encouraging creative people from all over the world to participate in their design.
Researchers are also working on the ability to 3D print bones and organs as replacements for people. Research is currently being conducted on artificial heart, kidney, and liver structures, as well as other major organs. Some printed organs are approaching functionality requirements for clinical implementation, and primarily include hollow structures such as the bladder, as well as vascular structures such as urine tubes. So its not there just yet, but we can imagine a future where someone could print you a kidney instead of giving you one of theirs.
Big data has become bigger and bigger in recent years. It seems that in modern times data is everything, especially in the medical industry. It can help diagnose a patient and also provide more accurate diagnosis based on the data collected.
IBM research teams say that the same super-computer that won a game of Jeopardy in 2011 is now being used to help physicians make more accurate diagnoses and recommend treatments.