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An Eye on the Future: 5 Technologies Transforming Healthcare

Radiologist preparing patient for PET-CT scanner.

November 29, 2021

From X-rays to MRIs to ultrasounds, time and time again technology has transformed the medical field. Today, we are witnessing the future take shape with advancements in digital healthcare technologies that reduce overall costs for the prevention and management of chronic illnesses.

Automation, algorithms and more continue to push the boundaries of medicine, allowing doctors a level of detail and efficiency once unimaginable. These digital healthcare technologies will define the future of your healthcare practice.

Artificial intelligence expedites analysis

Decision making, based on close analysis of symptoms and the data available, is a central component of healthcare and critical to diagnosis and the development of new treatments. It’s also incredibly time intensive. Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing that by getting a head start on all of the data.

AI is already being used to assist doctors with medical imaging, support researchers in the development of new treatments and therapies and even predict the occurrence of diseases. While it will never replace the personal touch and experience you provide, AI can help eliminate time-consuming and costly processes, allowing more time to focus on patient care.

3D printing personalizes and accelerates care and treatment

From creating custom prostheses at a fraction of the cost to cutting the time spent on medical device prototype development from weeks to days (and even hours), the potential impact of 3D printing in healthcare is practically limitless.

Surgeons are already using 3D printing for personalized surgical models used in preoperative planning and to provide clearer communication and demonstrations for patients ahead of procedures. And that’s only the beginning. 3D-printed organs and tissue engineering are on the horizon, allowing medical professionals to overcome the challenge of donor rejection.

Ultimately, 3D printing promises to provide more patient-centric solutions in less time and at lower costs. However, paying for these treatments will likely remain a top concern for your patients.

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Augmented and virtual reality provide procedure previews and teaching tools

Like 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) are providing more personalized surgical planning. The technology cuts down on time, risk and surprises by allowing doctors to run through complete procedures in a custom, virtual environment, based on the specific needs of each patient.

AR and VR are already being used as teaching tools to provide medical students more hands-on opportunities without the need for cadavers. And some AR tools can provide supporting details as an overlay with the real-world environment, providing vital information in real-time without disrupting procedures.

Robotics lend a helping hand

Since first emerging in the 1980s, the role of robotics in healthcare has grown exponentially. Today, robots (supported by medical professionals and AI) perform minimally invasive procedures, monitor patients with chronic diseases, sanitize hospital spaces, do the heavy lifting of room turnover, track the inventory of critical supplies and more. While the fear of these mechanical helpers replacing their human counterparts persists, the reality is they allow doctors, nurses and other caregivers to spend more time on the human side of medicine.

Nanotechnology makes a huge impact

While manipulating matter at the atomic level may sound like something out of a sci-fi show, nanotechnology is actually the next frontier in medical innovation. The applications of these hyper-focused treatments are seemingly infinite. Right now, researchers are looking at pharmaceutical usage with smart pills that would ensure treatments were absorbed and delivered in the body where they are most needed.

Scientists are even developing nanobots (microscopically small robots) that can be inserted into the body to repair and replace intracellular structures. Nanobots based on DNA are also being created for targeting specific disease cells. While this field is still in development, the implications for the future of medicine are worth watching. Physicians may not yet be prescribing nanobots, but an understanding of what’s on the horizon can ensure you’re prepared for what’s next.

Finding the right tools for the future of your practice

As innovations continue to redefine healthcare — increasing convenience for patients and the capabilities of healthcare providers — keeping up with the latest trends will continue to be essential. By keeping an eye on the future, you can stay a step ahead and ensure you’re delivering the best care today and the many tomorrows to come.

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