The Next Big Technological Breakthroughs In Medicine

medicine technological breakthroughs

Photo by Phalinn Ooi / CC BY

Medical technology is moving forward at a speed that is almost overwhelming. Use a printer to make an artificial ear? You bet! How about a person with a bionic eye? Drugs that can help the body’s immune system fight off cancer? These things are all now becoming possible, quicker than anyone thought they could be.

Applications are being developed that will be able to use biomonitoring electrodes for tracking an individual’s vital signs as a person is running, as well as gloves that can sense how warm or cold a person’s hands are, and headbands that can sense the heart rate. While these types of applications are not exactly new, being able to send this information directly to your doctor is.  This type of information will be invaluable for those with heart problems or other serious medical conditions.

Another recent breakthrough is the creation of an implantable artificial kidney for those on dialysis experiencing end stage renal failure or ESRF. For those who find themselves tied to a dialysis machine at least three times a week this news is very exciting. A small device approximately the size of a cup will be able to do the work of a traditional dialysis machine and then some. There are almost 2 million people worldwide that suffer from ESRF, and the disease costs Medicare approximately $33 billion dollars every year. Not only would this device save lives, but it could also save billions of dollars.

Hospital pharmacies are seeing benefit from these technological breakthroughs as well. Each year hospital pharmacies are being squeezed tighter by smaller budgets, but are still expected to manage shortages, keep up with regulatory compliance, and deal with drug recalls while reducing staff at the same time. Enter Kit Check, an RFID (radio-frequency identification) system that allows pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to identify the hundreds of drug kits in each pharmacy as well as help to replenish the items located in a kit. Traditionally this was done by hand, which would take valuable time and be prone to human error. Kit Check provides better patient safety and saved costs in the pharmacy by reducing kit processing time.

It is estimated that approximately 65 million people worldwide live with epilepsy, which is a disorder of the brain. A large number of these people are unable to control the seizures with medication or treatment. A breakthrough in treatment options has become available with a device that can be implanted under the skin. The device will record brain patterns and if an oncoming seizure is detected electrical pulses are sent which will stop the oncoming seizure. This implantable device will drastically reduce the frequency of these seizures allowing quality of life for those suffering from the condition as well as costs savings. It is estimated that in the United States alone $1 billion dollars is spent due to emergency room visits.

From devices that will tell you the chemical make-up of a meal to devices that can be implanted in running shoes telling a person how many steps they have taken, to genomic tests that can determine the aggressiveness of a cancer tumor, the breakthroughs in medical technology are astounding.

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