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Technologies of the future are already changing our healthcare

Digitisation undoubtedly has a huge impact on people’s health and physical fitness. New technologies translate into the improved quality of life of millions of people, and they affect the entire healthcare sector and its employees. 

As far as medicine is concerned, the last 100 years were a time of great achievements. The evolution of hygiene practices, discovery of penicillin and introduction of mass vaccination programs are all successes for which we should be grateful to our predecessors. It is generally accepted that only at the beginning of the 20th century life expectancy was less than 50 years. In 2019, the figure for European Union states stands at over 64 years for women and 63.5 for men.

The modern technologies currently named as those that could potentially revolutionize our healthcare include genomics, 3D printing and telemedicine. The following article is aimed at presenting news on specific technological advancements which in the future will perhaps become a part of our daily life. 

Genomics is a field of science that, with the help of increasingly modern computers having ever greater computing power, enables us to study DNA in detail. This gives us the opportunity to personalize medical treatment, which in turn significantly improves the effectiveness of the therapies applied. Genome analysis enables us to achieve an in-depth identification of individual predispositions, diseases, limitations and talents. Genome sequencing is one of the most effective ways to detect and treat cancer.

Telemedicine is increasingly often presented as an alternative to “face-to-face” doctor consultations. Mobile technologies enable us to take some weight off the healthcare system, decrease the number of visits to the doctor and thus shorten the queues. However, telemedicine is of greatest importance to communities without access to medical facilities. A remote health assessment means an opportunity for the poorest and most deprived to take advantage of healthcare services. Telemedicine equipment enables medical staff to monitor the patient’s health on an ongoing basis and carry out preventive tests and check-ups, and give patients access to their test results without having to appear at a medical facility. 

Cellular engineering enables us to “grow” miniature organs using a patient’s DNA. Different treatments are then tested on them. The ability to observe the effects of treatment at cellular level gives specialists an insight into what works best before a patient actually undergoes a given therapy. Currently, cellular engineering finds a wide range of applications in the treatment of burn wounds and other injuries.

Big data has been used in medicine for several years now. Access to ever greater data resources means it is possible to carry out more thorough comparative analyses of patient cases. Collating and comparing data on people having similar lifestyles, professional background and even DNA enables us to better understand associated health risks and how they might affect different treatment. Access to a huge amount of data enables scientists to choose the best medication. Sharing data between pharmaceutical companies has recently led to a significant discovery. It was proven that desipramine, an antidepressant, might potentially be used in the treatment of lung cancer.

3D printing is a technology the use of which in treatment of various diseases is becoming more and more probable. Using DNA, we can now develop personalized organs such as lungs, liver and bones. This will certainly affect the status quo for many patients, for whom the only rescue is to have an organ transplanted from a donor. Low-budget solutions that have significantly affected the lives of many people are prostheses, in particular prosthetic arms created for children. Manufacturers rarely offer children’s prostheses. The costs are significant and the prosthetic device has to be changed frequently because of the owner’s growth. The printing of a 3D prosthesis costs up to a maximum of $150, while manufacturer prices start at $9,000.

The role of social media and online forums in the assessment of doctors, hospitals and other medical facilities is immense. Patients are increasingly often looking for opinions on specific places and specialists expressed by other Internet users through social media and online surveys. This information is also used by healthcare professionals to identify any issues within the healthcare system. Social media allow the spread of information in near real-time, thus forcing healthcare professionals to react quickly.

Medical robots allow surgical operations to be carried out with a great level of precision and reduce the time required for recovery following a surgery. They really shape the entire process. For example, surgical operations performed in the past by a three-person team can currently be carried out by one single doctor controlling the robot. The use of this technology affects the quality of treatment.

Technological advancement is noticeable in nearly all areas of life. We are therefore not surprised by either the new solutions that are already applied at hospitals and other facilities or those that are only talked about for now. Perhaps in the future modern technologies will enable us to extend our life expectancy by maybe even a dozen years.

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