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March 2021 Digital Health Roundup

Is technology making healthcare easier or harder to access? It turns out, it depends on who you ask. While those who have easy access to digital resources are benefitting from the influx of technology in healthcare, many of the most vulnerable people in our population could get left behind as the technological wave pushes through the healthcare industry. There’s no stopping the wave, though, with advances in diagnosing skin cancer and healthcare education, technology is changing healthcare as we know it right before our eyes, and research shows that most patients are okay with it.

The Covid-19 pandemic caused a surge in digital healthcare, but it has also led to conversations about the digital divide: the vast space between those who have easy access to technology and those who do not. At medpagetoday.com, David Nash, MD, MBA, FACP takes an interesting look at the increased use of technology in healthcare and the digital divide it creates for some patients, especially the elderly, noting that a patient’s connectivity might need to be considered a vital sign that doctors routinely ask patients at every visit. Read more about this perspective and who is least likely to utilize digital technology in healthcare here.

However, there is more to consider at forbes.com where Kal Vepuri, founder and CEO of Hero, says that technology is finally democratizing healthcare and that it is patient driven. The influx of the tech industry into healthcare is thought to have advantages such as making healthcare more convenient, and helping patients stay healthy and connected – even for the elderly, says Vepuri, as long as the tech companies keep seniors in mind when developing healthcare technology. Read more here.

The good news is that when patients have the access to healthcare technology, they are okay with using it. A recent study published at jamanetwork.com found that patients would be okay with robots performing some medical tasks in the hospital emergency room setting. Participants in the study were asked if they would find it acceptable for a robot to perform tasks such as taking vital signs, facilitating a telehealth interview, obtaining nasal and oral swabs, and turning a patient over in bed. Most participants said that using robotic systems to facilitate healthcare would be acceptable, and of the patients who interacted with a robotic system for a triage interview, the majority reported that their experience was equal to the quality of a person-to-person interview. Learn more about the study here.

Patients aren’t the only ones being impacted by technology in healthcare. Doctors and medical students have access to a number of new learning tools, says techgenyz.com. Technology is impacting healthcare education in a variety of ways. Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, computer assisted learning, and wearable technologies are all transforming the way healthcare is learned and practiced. Find more information about how each technology is used in healthcare education here

The traditional way surgeons are trained is over a century old, but technology is changing all that. In an interview with Dr. Justin Barad, surgeon, CEO and co-founder of Osso VR, techrepublic.com explores how virtual reality technology is changing the way surgeons are being trained. Barad says that Osso VR offers better opportunity for doctors to train and assess themselves and learn new procedures, much like pilots practice with simulated situations. Research shows that when people train with virtual reality technology, their performance goes up by 230 to 300 percent, which will ultimately help improve patient outcomes. Learn more about Osso VR and how it is being used to improve surgical training here.

Researchers are also continuing to use technology to find ways to diagnose cancer in its early stages. Sciencedaily.com reports that new technology is helping to better diagnose melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) systems have been developed to help in diagnosing suspicious pigmented lesions (SPLs) on the skin that can indicate cancer, but because they are trained to look at skin lesions individually rather than compare multiple lesions as a dermatologist does, the CAD systems haven’t had much effect on diagnosing melanoma. However, a new CAD system can now use a photo of a patient’s skin to successfully distinguish SPLs from non-suspicious lesions with 90 percent accuracy. The researchers have made their CAD system algorithm available to others and hope to eventually turn the system into a product that could be used by primary care doctors all over the world. Learn more here.

How Will the Medical Industry Change in the Coming Years?

Under the influence of technology, healthcare is becoming a more complex system. By introducing features such as: 3D-printing, Nanotechnology, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and VR/AR, it is critical to acquaint yourself with the latest healthcare developments to understand and control digital healthcare technologies. 

There are a lot of factors at play in the modifications of healthcare. Having a profound understanding of this growing intricacy will facilitate comprehension of what’s to come. With the help of USMLE prep, the medical community keeps growing with the addition of new students and ideas.

Which Factors Contribute to Change in the Medical Industry

According to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), justification of the development of healthcare is implicated by several factors such as:

  • Health insurance coverage: While insurance coverage is an assurance of more medical services, modern trends of insurers and employers place a fiscal obligation on patients in the form of deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance, which brings about slow growth rates
  • Healthcare product and service prices: It is evident that the increase in pricing of medical products and services has impacted healthcare spending growth
  • Demographics and patient idiosyncrasies: Variations in the health status and age of the population significantly affects how much is spent on healthcare
  • Market capacity: Healthcare providers are known for consolidating at a rapid rate. Incorporating others gives a more significant market power over insurers
  • Technology: This is one factor that has the most critical effect on healthcare change, according to MedPAC

 How Technology Will Better Healthcare

In the medical world, digital technology will result in extraordinary achievements. It could help revamp unsustainable healthcare systems into more sustainable ones. Technology is shaping healthcare in the following ways:

Robotics

This is one of the rapidly growing healthcare fields. Its developments vary from robot companions through surgical robots until pharmabotics, exoskeletons, and disinfectant robots. In 2019 Europe saw its first exoskeleton-aided surgery that enabled a tetraplegic man to control an exoskeleton with his brain. These sci-fi suits have many more applications that help both the patient and the caregiver.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence has the absolute potential to completely redesign healthcare. AI algorithms can design treatment plans, mine medical records, and develop drugs faster than any medical professional on the healthcare palette.

3D-Printing

3D-printing is capacitated to give rise to miracles in all facets of healthcare. We can print: artificial limbs, bio tissues, blood vessels, pills, amongst other things, with its help.

Healthcare Trackers, Wearables, and Sensors

This equipment is excellent for getting to understand ourselves better and reestablish control over our individual lives. These devices help you manage your: stress levels, weight, cognitive capabilities, and overall fit and energetic level. The real advantage of these tech-fueled appliances is that it centralizes the patient’s care.

Augmented Reality

Users of augmented reality do not lose touch with reality, and it ingrains information into the eyesight as fast as possible. These unique aspects allow AR to become a driving force in therapy for the receivers and providers of healthcare.

Medical Tricorder

As far as instant solutions are concerned, this gadget is considered every medic dream for an almighty and omnipotent device. It is a handheld device that enables you to diagnose and analyze every disease by scanning a patient.

Nanotechnology

We are on the brink of a nanomedicine era. Soon, nanodevices and nanoparticles will be critical; tiny surgeries, drug delivery systems, or cancer treatment.

Revolutionizing Drug Development

The procedure of formulating new drugs is long and expensive. There are techniques to enhance drug development with designs ranging from silico trials to artificial intelligence. New strategies and technologies are already dominating the pharmaceutical landscape and will continue to do so in years to come.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is altering the lives of patients and also physicians. It is possible that in the future, we will watch surgeries as if you wielded the scalpel, or you could travel home or to any other part of the world from your hospital bed.

Something to Think About

Technology is becoming more and more rooted in medicine, and it is essential to have an idea of the future methods of implementing healthcare with digital health on the rise.

5 Technologies Shaping the Future of Healthcare

From implants to self-diagnosis, innovation is growing in the medical industry, and can soon transform healthcare all together. Although technology has already evolved since the development of the microscope back in the 17th century, the health industry is still welcoming more advances to medical and surgical tools, as well as new ways to make effective medicines and vaccines.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the five ways that technology is pushing the medical industry to another level, and shaping the future of healthcare.

1. 3D-Printed Prosthetics

“Prosthetics are one of the most requested products in the medical industry, especially with amputee patients,” says Michael Keener, a business writer at Boom Essays and Academized. “And with 3D printing, it’s now easier to create prosthetic limbs, and make these products more accessible to people worldwide. Ever since the success of the 3D-printed mini heart, now 3D printers are a must-have.” 

2. Biosensing Contact Lens

Recently introduced by UNIST’s team of researchers, biosensing contact lens will be able to detect glucose levels in diabetic patients, whenever there are tears in the eye. Having built-in transparent electronics, the lens, fortunately, won’t bother people who wear them. Sounds amazing, right?

And although the lenses aren’t in the market yet, UNIST is hopeful that they’ll soon be available in the near future. 

3. Virtual Reality (VR)

VR is no longer reserved for video games. In fact, both patients and doctors can use VR to see what’s going on – whether surgeons are using it for noninvasive procedures, or patients want a virtual escape while they’re recovering from surgery in a hospital bed. 

In addition, VR software like Osso VR and ImmersiveTouch help future surgeons train for the real deal, and lets experienced surgeons and physicians perfect their operations and methods. According to a recent study from Harvard Business Review, VR-trained surgeons did around 230% better in their overall performance – faster and more accurate in performing surgeries – than traditionally-trained surgeons.

VR also makes surgery and post-operation less painful for patients. With VR being as noninvasive as possible, patients suffering from things like gastrointestinal, cardiac, and neurological problems find them less painful when using VR to visualize soothing images and scenarios to distract them from what’s going on. Even women in labor can use VR to distract them from labor pains. With VR, the hospital experience is less stressful for patients.

4. Wearable Trackers And Sensors

With wearable trackers like Fitbit, it has never been easier for people to track their steps and heart rate. But pretty soon, these types of trackers and sensors will be able to detect one’s health status, so that people can take better control of their lives. Whether you’re looking to manage your weight, have lower stress levels, check on your body cognitively, or find a good level to be fit and active, wearable trackers and sensors will soon be able to do those things.

Here are some of the technological advances to date:

  • Fitbit Ionic – Lets you monitor your sleep, and even tracks your workout.
  • Polar H10 – Helps you find the best exercises for you, and fine-tune your current practices. (Wear this with the Fitbit Ionic, if you desire.)
  • The Muse Headband – Helps you focus on the major things that make your meditation session successful.

Now more than ever, it’s easier for people to track their health, and get a better hold of what they would need to do to stay healthy and active. 

5. Nanotech

“Nanomedicine will soon be a reality, if not now,” says Hollie Kelly, a project manager at Bestbritishessays and Academ advisor. “People are already seeing nanoparticles and nanodevices as our drug delivery systems, tiny surgeons, and cancer treatment tools.”

For example, there is already talk about smart pills like the PillCam, which is a noninvasive, electronic pill that can relay diagnostic information about the patient and or release necessary medication via smartphone. The medical industry is hoping that these smart pills can take biopsy samples for further analysis, or take the place of traditional, invasive surgeries.

Conclusion

With technology already changing our world at a rapid pace, healthcare will surely benefit from innovations from technological advances. Although these technological advances may not show up overnight, you can rest assured that doctors, physicians, surgeons, and developers are working towards these solutions, and promising a brighter future in healthcare.


Molly Crockett writes for Ukservicesreviews.com and Big Assignments. She also writes articles about writing and editing on Best Coursework Services. As a marketing writer, she shares her unique lifestyle tips and personal development advice with her audience.

Uber Health and Five More Groundbreaking Ideas Changing Healthcare Delivery

Healthcare in the U.S. is an industry that’s ripe for innovation. From a convoluted insurance system to a complicated chain of care to a lack of price transparency, many factors combine to create a healthcare system that’s slow, expensive, inefficient, and difficult to navigate.

But some companies are fast at work addressing the many pain points of patient care. Whether they’re small startups or large companies we already know, there are plenty of businesses out there working to make a difference in the healthcare space. Below, we’ve rounded up six ideas that are changing how healthcare is delivered today.

Uber Health

Every year, 3.6 million Americans miss doctor appointments due to a lack of reliable transportation, contributing to a high rate of no-shows, reaching as much as 30 percent nationwide. At the beginning of March, troubled ride-share company Uber announced the launch of Uber Health, a new initiative that partners with healthcare organizations to provide reliable transportation to patients in need. Here’s how it works: a coordinator schedules the Uber ride on behalf of the patient, and the patient communicates with the driver via text or call to facilitate the logistics.

The HIPAA-compliant system helps reduce appointment cancellations and saves the healthcare organizations money (as compared to using taxis or other transportation options). “Uber has helped us drastically reduce appointment cancellations. It’s great to be able to quickly request a ride with so that in-need patients can make an appointment they’d otherwise miss,” said Pete Celano, Director of Consumer Health Initiatives at MedStar Health, in the release announcing the nationwide launch of Uber Health.

Zocdoc Insurance Checker

Insurance is notoriously cryptic and confusing, and health insurance is even more difficult to decipher than other kinds of policies. How do you know what your health insurance will cover and what it won’t? Can you be 100 percent certain that a new doctor is in your network? To answer these questions, the online medical scheduling platform Zocdoc launched their Insurance Checker at the very end of last year. Patients take a picture of their insurance card, then Zocdoc extracts the important data and determines whether or not a doctor is in-network under the patient’s plan. This makes it easier for the patient to schedule visits and cuts down on surprise out-of-network charges.

Nomad Health

Have you ever been sick, only to discover that the earliest available appointment at your primary care physician’s office is in two weeks? Instead of waiting, you can call up a doctor, speak to one within a few minutes, and get a diagnosis and even a prescription, all without leaving the comfort of your home. While telemedicine has been around in some form or fashion for years (early leader Teladoc was founded in 2002), startups have recently jumped into the telemedicine space, hoping to provide a new twist on the concept of a virtual doctor visit.

The startup Nomad Health seeks to combine this telemedicine idea with the gig economy, allowing doctors to contract for virtual freelance via videoconferencing appointments. The service also includes postings for full-time positions, as well as travel nurse positions. Like employees in other industries, medical professionals are seeking more flexible and remote work schedules, and Nomad Health hopes to seamlessly connect them with these very opportunities while providing convenient video appointments for patients.

Osso VR

For decades, cadaver dissections have been the primary way of training surgical residents. But a host of new companies are using virtual reality (VR) technology to train future healthcare providers in a variety of situations. Osso VR, a startup that closed $2 million in funding last year, uses realistic simulations to teach orthopedic surgeons new techniques. Unlike cadavers, which often can only be used once, surgeons can practice VR simulations over and over again until they achieve proficiency.

Not only does VR make it cheaper to train surgeons, it also means that patients are being operated on by more experienced residents who have performed dozens of simulations (rather than just a handful). “In med school, they say ‘see one [surgery], do one, teach one’…but the truth is you need to do 50 to 100 cases for proficiency,” Justin Barad, Osso VR CEO and Founder, told Forbes.

Google’s Launchpad Studios

Google’s new Launchpad Studios program matches machine learning startups with Silicon Valley experts — and the inaugural class of seven startups all focus on addressing healthcare and biotech problems using artificial intelligence. American and international startups Augmedix, Cytovale, Nanowear, Owkin, Portal Telemedicina, Byteflies, and BrainQ joined the effort.

Each startup seeks to use machine learning in a slightly different context; for example, BrainQ identifies brain wave patterns in patients after neurological disorders to help aid in treatment, while Nanowear uses nanosensors in smart textiles to gather patient data and improve diagnostics. Google plans to establish other tracks for Launchpad Studios, but the fact that the company chose healthcare and biotech to be the first one indicates that Google is prioritizing healthcare innovation.

Forward

The year is 2030. You check in at your doctor’s office, and before you enter an exam room, you get a full body scan, and its data is fed to an AI algorithm that can spot patterns that might indicate health problems. By the time you make it to the exam room, your doctor has your data queued up, ready to review it with you and compare it to your genetic testing results. Before you leave, you’re given a wearable that will continuously relay health data back to your provider.

Sound futuristic? This process is already happening at Forward, a new kind of doctor’s office that has locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Not every doctor’s appointment can be done virtually through telemedicine, and Forward wants to make sure that when you do go to visit your doctor in person, the experience is seamless and digitally integrated.

The Future of Health

These concepts are just a sampling of the many new startups and innovations in the healthcare space. The future of healthcare is bright, primarily because these thinkers are funneling their efforts into problem-solving solutions that make the healthcare system smarter, more user-friendly and more well-connected.