Technology companies are becoming more and more important in the world of healthcare. From artificial intelligence to 3-D printing, tech innovations are powering the future of medical care.
Three-dimensional printing is changing the way objects are manufactured and it can produce many vital things in medicine, including drugs, to synthetic organs, heart valves, bones and blood vessels. In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first prescription drug made from 3D printing. It's not just benefiting people either; L'Oreal and Organovo are researching how they can print synthetic skin to eliminate the need for animal testing!
AI technology is seeping into the medical world, with applications including diagnostic algorithms to surgical robots—but don't worry, they're not about to replace doctors anytime soon! Instead, they can help physicians make more accurate diagnoses. For example, IBM's Watson AI technology is capable of going through tons of medical journals and patient data to provide lists of potential diagnoses at lightning speed.
In the future, smart contact lenses could monitor a user's natural tears to help diabetics track and measure glucose levels. Researchers are also advancing artificial pancreas systems that automatically monitor glucose and provide the correct insulin doses when needed. They're still many years away, but one day, this type of innovation could be extended to test blood pressure, body temperature and cholesterol—and perhaps even be used to deliver drugs.
Some technologies that were once only available at a doctor's surgery are now available for home use. For example, AliveCor enables you to track heart rhythm through an EKG and email the data to your doctor and the Nokia BPM allows for on-the-go blood pressure monitoring.
While some of these innovations are many years from becoming available, it's clear that digital technologies are accelerating the pace of medical progress. In the future, expect greater personalisation and patient empowerment, as technologies are being developed that will allow medical professionals to determine which treatments work best for each patient in a truly individual, DNA-based way.