As the years go by, we’re increasingly surrounded by technology. We have supercomputers in our pockets, many of us go to work by staying at home and working in front of a workstation, and we have fuel-efficient (and even electric!) cars. Technology has indeed improved, but far too often, we see the improvement in areas only we are concerned with.
In the field of medicine, technology has jumped considerably. The developments and innovations are significant, yet they often go unannounced. Below are some of the innovations within the medical field and why they’re essential.
Wearable Self-monitoring Tools
One of the more apparent advances in medical technology is something you could be wearing right now. It monitors your heartbeat, counts your steps, and helps you manage your calories. Fitbit, Apple Watch, and other smartwatches with sensors to monitor your health condition are a great testament to how technology can help people take on a more active lifestyle.
The guided, easy-to-understand presentation of one’s health stats makes it more motivational to start and maintain the habit of exercising. These may be accessories primarily available to the masses, but this type of wearable technology is actually also being utilized in healthcare.
Remote Monitoring and Accessibility Equipment
Just as wearable self-monitoring tools help motivate people to lead healthier lives, medical equipment helps healthcare professionals monitor patients remotely. This reduces the need to visit a hospital or a clinic (which will be discussed in the next point), as monitoring equipment can immediately send data to clinics and health centers.
For example, patients with cardiovascular disease using pacemakers no longer need to manually track their vital statistics. Instead, the pacemaker itself sends the data to nurses caring for the patient, making recording more real-time and accurate.
In line with this, accessibility equipment to help differently-abled people is now becoming more popular. It has entered mainstream consciousness that different people require different needs, and with it comes the demand for manufacturers to variate and diversify their range. Thanks to this, open-source and specialized designs are now available, and with 3D printing highly feasible, they provide people with various needs the means to accommodate their requirements.
Telehealth and Telecommunication
Last year, because we could not go outside due to quarantine restrictions, it was quite difficult to get ourselves checked by our doctors. Thankfully, we have telehealth, which allows us to have online consultations with our doctors in the comfort of our own homes. This isn’t a very new concept, though, as we’ve had telemedicine as early as the 1960s.
It’s important that we recognize the function of telehealth, especially in rural areas where transportation is challenging. Through telecommunications technology, people who have difficulty accessing hospitals and clinics can get proper consultation with a doctor online. Not only does it provide the needed health service conveniently, but it also helps them save on doctor visits.
Medical Record Stored in the Cloud
A common problem both patients and doctors face is the lack of a unified and centralized record-keeping system. Many patients forget their medical history, and doctors find it difficult to access the medical records of patients who didn’t particularly keep them.
Fortunately, the cloud is helping change that. Through the use of the cloud, medical records can now be shared through a secure network. Electronic health records or EHRs are now becoming commonplace, allowing for real-time updating, sharing, and accessibility. Doctors can now track their patient’s critical data and go through past medical records, leading to better medical decisions to help their patients.
Research and Support
Finally, the most important contribution of a technology-forward philosophy to medicine is the constant development of ever-improving medical technology. The world has seen breakthroughs in stem cell treatments, exosomes, and other similarly inclined treatment methods. Perhaps laypeople might not exactly feel the innovations and improvements that’s been happening, but it’s considerable enough to warrant discussion.
All this research is resulting in a wider variety of treatments available, to the benefit of everyone. In the vaccine industry, research and production of vaccines are accelerated due to it being a requirement to combat a global pandemic. And this quickened pace of research provides a jumping platform for other similar research to flourish. Truly, technology and research are crucial in medicine.
The regular person may perceive technology as a means to provide efficiency and convenience in everyday use. Having a smartphone to do quick messaging, using a laptop as a daily driver for work, or using a smart car to get around- these are all the benefits we reap from technology. But beyond all that, technology is used in various industries, including healthcare and medicine.