For hundreds of years, the specialty of medicine has been overwhelmed by symptoms, wounds, or different side effects, felt by the patients or found by the doctors. With inventions such as the magnifying lens, the x-beam, and MRI, the problem-solving strategy in medical has become easier, but with such useful machinery, the procedure to diagnose the disease remained the same. For example, to discover an ailment, physicians initially need to search for the various symptoms, side effects and runnumerous tests on patients. However, these tests are lengthy and time-consuming, making the entire process troublesome and gruelling.
The traditional procedure to deal with the disease might soon come to an end as the medication is becoming a data-based science. Bestowed by fast increments in computer processing and the affiliation of test tubes with microchips, medication is changing the manner of analyzing, and treating a significant number of diseases. New medications, as of now are precisely focused to the molecular fingerprints of particular illnesses. A portion of these medications is even focused on a patient’s exclusive DNA profile. Medication is moving from the instilled presumption that medications and illnesses work the same with the entire human race to the individual human being. This new perspective is opening new paths to healing the similar diseases differently, customized for every single patient. This will result in early diagnostics and better treatment of each and every patient in their early stage of a disease. Following are some of the future medical advancements, which will change the traditional way of medical treatments.
- Cognitive Computing
In the era of data and information, cognitive computing synthesizes data from various sources, rejects the incompatible data and suggests the best possible answers. Cognitive computing is closely associated with IBM’s cognitive computer system, Watson. Cognitive computers like IBM Watson can examine the 23 million medical papers, medical textbooks to coordinate with the patient’s therapeutic history and recommend the most suitable answer for the specialists to consider. This is a self-learning technology that uses data mining, pattern recognition, and natural language processing to think the way a human brain works.
- Augmented (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
The augmented reality devices enable physicians to visualize data while doing diagnostics and treatment procedures to improve safety, work efficiency and to enhance surgical training. The AR system consists of computer processed image data in real-time via dedicated hardware and software. The projections are obtained by using cameras, trackers or projectors. For extra complicated surgeries, the surgical team can take CT, ultrasound and MRI scans to create a super detailed high-resolution virtual model of the bodies to identify potential pitfalls and plan how these would be avoided during the surgery. Through the 3D glasses, a physician can walk through the structure. They can peel the parts apart so they can take a closer look at the organs from any viewing angle.
The principle intention of Genomics is to comprehend the human DNA. Genomics uses the gene interaction (DNA) with a patient’s health. Although greater than 99% of the DNA, sequence are similar from person to person and only the last 1% makes the difference. The investigation of the complex biological details of an individual makes a tailor-made treatment for that particular patient. This customized treatment, specially designed for a single patient will accelerate the rate of recovery for the same. For instance, if there is a family history of serious genetic disorders, then Genomics can tell whether the parents are the carriers or not. It can also signify if someone’s more likely to develop the abnormal condition in later life, even if the victim doesn’t have any symptoms today.
- Robot Assistants
With the expansion of AI and Robotics, Robotics is a progressively growing industry. Researchers suggest that the market for healthcare robots will increase up to $2.8 billion by 2021.
- Biorobotics: Biologically-inspired robots have greater flexibility and they also possess sensory abilities. They are used to provide assistance related to the state of disease, and progress tracking. Biorobotics include tissue engineering, neural engineering, biomimetics and, BioMEMS.
- Telepresence Robots: Telepresence robots are remote-controlled devices which use a gyroscope and accelerometer for mobility. The robot has a tablet for audio and video communication with a magnetic wide angle lens for a 360o
- Surgical Robots: These robots are deployed for complete & complex medical surgeries. The surgical robot system consists of the Vision System, which includes a high-definition 3D endoscope and a large viewing monitor, the Patientside Cart that contains robotic arms which carry out the surgeon’s commands, and the Surgeon Console, where the surgeon utilizes 3D imagery from the endoscope, as well as hand manipulators with Endowrist which provides 7 degrees of motion unlike 3 degrees of motion of a normal human wrist.
- UV Disinfection Robots: These robots utilize the UV-C light system, with which only 10 minute exposure time can kill 99% of bacteria. They have a built-in collision avoidance system with AMR and sensors for easy movements. They also store relevant data during cleaning, which can be accessed easily from a tablet or touchscreen panel attached to the robot.
Nanotechnology is the application of nanoparticles with size in the range of 0.1nm to 100nm. Nanotechnology in medicine (Nanomedicine), which is under the testing phase, involves the use of manufactured nano-robots to make repairs at the cellular level. This area in medicine possesses a vast potential that if it succeeds, it can revolutionize the way to detect and cure almost all type of diseases to a huge extent. The particles are engineered so that they get attracted to the infected cells and enable the direct treatment of those cells. This technology reduces damage to the healthy cells, allowing earlier detection of disease. Imagine the HIV virus connected to the cells, removed with the help of nano-robots. Researchers at Georgia State University are currently using nanoparticles that directly target a portion of the influenza virus.
- Health Scanners
Health scanner is an all-purpose medical device which can identify 13 health conditions (12 diseases, and the absence of disease) in 90 minutes to 24 hours without any additional help from medical professionals. It gauges temperature, heart bea rate, and hemoglobin levels with 99% accuracy. The data can be accessed on the scanner as well as on a smartphone device. With built-in AI, it uses non-invasive sensors to get a baseline health report on the patient, simultaneously comparing information with a medical encyclopedia.
- Regenerative medicine
From skin replacement to the development of an entirely new organ, regenerative medicine is evolving rapidly. Hassan, a nine-year-old boy is a live example of this evolution. Hassan was born with a rare genetic skin disorder, Epidermolysis bullosa, which causes blistering skin. An Italian scientist, Mechele de Luca found a remarkable breakthrough which could cure Hassan’s disease. Luca and his team grew an entire replacement skin for Hassan in the lab by correcting the defect in his gene called as LAMB3. Bandaged from head to toe, Hassan effectively cured of his severe illness and two years later, like a normal human being, he was able to play football and needed no medication.
- Anti-aging therapies
Typically, human cells are perishable and can’t everlastingly recreate themselves, as their division has a limit. The maximum number of cell divisions, a cell can undergo is called as the Hayflick limit. With each cell replication, Telomeres, a ribonucleoprotein complex shrink in size, and as a result body gets older. Scientist discovered the mechanism known as Telomerase which is helpful to maintain the telomere structure constant for a longer period of time. Telomerase can be used to immortalize human cells, thereby slowing the shrinking process of Telomeres, which can ultimately slow down the aging process. However, this method is still in the researching phase, and there are other factors also involved, such as glycation, oxidative stress in the aging process. Dr. Rechard Cawthon from the University of Utah stated that if all processes of aging could be eliminated and oxidative stress damage could be repaired, one estimate is people could live 1,000 years.
- The universal translator
According to a WHO’s report, about 2 billion people worldwide have no access to surgical care. This survey shows the need for physicians worldwide as well as the proper training for each physician. The doctors speak different languages and it’s a difficult task to train when the two doctors cannot understand each other. Dr. Steven Schwaitzberg, MD, Chief of Surgery at the Cambridge Health Alliance has found the solution to this problem, the universal translator. He is working with the IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Center to build a universal translator for surgery. The translator can be used to teach surgeons around the world to perform laparoscopic surgery.
- Interactive Gaming in healthcare
Interactive Health Games (IHG) are designed in such a way that the users find it more attractive, enjoyable, experimental and challenging, which will further lead to change the patient’s attitude and behavior to improve their health. IHG involves certain goals to be achieved by patients. There is a specialized environment provided for each patient according to their disease. Studies have shown that using interactive health games positively affects the patient and increase their cognitive, physical and social activity.
Plenty of puzzles related to human’s mental and physical conditions are yet to be revealed, and the human mind has that potential to discover it. All these technologies in medicine are the examples of exceptional ideas from the human brain itself that came and got implemented in real life. They are utilized somewhere or in a testing phase, and soon they will be evolved as new researches surface the medical world. There will be the long-lasting political, economic, and social consequences due to these technologies, but the right approach and careful handling can make a drastic change in the way medical system works and benefits human life in a positive manner.