January 3, 2016
We live in an unhealthy world. Over the last decade, pathogens and vectors have traveled further and faster with devastating outcomes. Older diseases like malaria and dengue too, have made a shocking come back, and fatalities have been on the rise.
In India alone, the deaths from malaria, dengue, H1N1, and leptospirosis have spiraled beyond control. This is disturbing news when you consider that we live in one of the most technologically-advanced historical periods. Slimmer phones, faster internet connections, and cutting-edge technology are the norm, but have they really impacted the medical field?
Can Modern Technology Help in the Field of Health and Medicine?
Yes, it can. Medical technology is a vast field and it is based on demand and innovation. To satisfy demand, technologists came up with treatments like anti-bleeding gels which instantly sealed a wound and stopped blood loss, and personalized medications that were specifically designed for one particular patient. Both these modalities helped to save the lives of thousands of patients affected with cancer and hemorrhagic diseases.
However, apart from demand and supply, doctors also learned to adapt popular technology to assist in medical treatment. The very first example of this was Google Glass. Google Glass was originally designed to be wearable technology for everyday life. Doctors like Dr Rafael Grossman started using Google Glass to improve patient treatment and to facilitate interactions with doctors all over the world.
Similarly, 3-D printing was originally designed to test machines before they went into active production. Now, 3-D printing is an essential part of medical treatment. In the last two years, almost 95% of hearing aids were printed with 3-D printing technology. Other fields like dentistry also started using 3-D printing to create dental braces. Parent company Align Technology stated that almost 650,000 pairs of Invisalign dental braces had already been printed and were being used by patients worldwide. This is not all. Researchers now think that 3-D printing could be used to print prosthetics, organs, and replacement bones.
Combining Technology with Biology
Modern medicine is also evolving to include new treatment fields like bioelectronic medicine. As the term ‘bioelectronic’ suggests, this field of medical technology combines medicine with electronic devices placed inside the body. Researchers have already come up with advances like computer chips that control in-body drug dispensing systems, human-powered pacemakers that run on the electricity present in the human body, gels that mimic body cells, digestible sensors, and hybrid operating rooms that contain a surgeon along with advanced medical technology for state-of-the-art medical treatments. In fact, the Lakeland Regional Media Center has already set up a hybrid operating room that has saved numerous lives.
The Future is Bright
Medical professionals learned to keep up with the times due to the internet. Fast networks led to doctors connecting with experts from all over the world to solve medical conundrums and to save lives. Now telemedicine through cloud-based communication is the norm in almost every national and international hospital.
In the healthcare industry, the benefits of modern technology cannot be ignored. An innovative new treatment or clinical trial could give seriously ill patients a better chance of fighting off life-threatening disease. It could prolong a patient’s life and improve the quality of their lifestyle as well. Advances in medical technology have allowed diagnosticians to work faster, understand disease better, and treat their patients with better medications.
But it was William James Mayo who said, ‘The aim of medicine is to prevent disease and prolong life. The ideal of medicine is to eliminate the need of a physician completely.’
With the help of modern technology, this dream could very well turn into reality in the near future.