The Future of Medtech
An industry where technology can save lives
When it comes to advances in technology, there are a few industries where they can make a notable difference in the quality of human life. In the past few decades, medical care has been one of the most prominent sectors disrupted by technology. In an era when we are more informed about our health than ever before, the average life expectancy continues to rise, and we can treat previously uncurable diseases, medical technology, or medtech, can amplify the effects of scientific discoveries exponentially.
Recent advances in healthcare and technology
Some of the most notable medical advances in recent years include the demystifying of the human genome, new, targeted cancer therapies, combination drug therapy extending HIV survival prospects, the reduction of heart disease, and new approaches to hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women.
On the technological side, innovations are also keeping up with the times, thanks to medical big data sharing, coupled with the ability to conduct studies and analyze results more efficiently with IT systems. Robotic arm surgery has allowed surgeons to achieve minimally invasive results and faster patient recovery. Functional MRI (fMRI) has allowed scientists to gain a better understanding of prevalent diseases and is aiding the search for more effective treatments.
Opportunities to explore in health tech
Despite all the progress science and medtech have achieved in the past two decades, there is much to do when it comes to the prevention and treatment of life-shortening and life-threatening conditions. Still, the technology and knowledge now possessed by the scientific and medical communities, position humanity in a better place for solving those challenges.
Read on to find out what we consider the most promising new medtech applications.
Digital twin imaging
Not unlike the concept of industrial digital twins, we are now able to digitize models of the human body, enabling personalized medicine and remote healthcare. These digital twins would typically contain vital information about patients, such as their genetic makeup, personal characteristics, and lifestyle factors. They can also include results from blood and cardiology tests, CT and MRI scans.
Augmented surgical support
Thanks to the introduction and adoption of surgical robots, surgeons can now conduct minimally invasive procedures that leave no scars, remove no unnecessary tissue, and have much shorter post-surgical recovery times. This tech development results in higher surgical accuracy, better post-surgery outcomes, and improved quality of life for patients.
First aid drone service
Thanks to advances in drone tech (i.e. battery life and more intelligent piloting models), the delivery of life-saving medications, vaccinations and test kits to remote areas of the world, or to patients unable to visit a healthcare facility, is no longer a farfetched sci-fi scenario. The commercial applications of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are wide and healthcare is just one of those, albeit one with a significant potential to improve patient health.
Finland has pioneered a project where four thousand elderly citizens are utilizing safety IoT gadgets that allow healthcare staff to monitor their condition remotely, while they live at home. This provides patients with greater autonomy and the ability to stay in their homes rather than in senior citizen or healthcare facilities, which are often dreaded. Pill-dispensing robots also help the elderly take their medications regularly, removing the potential to skip or forget, and eliminating the need for home visits by healthcare staff.
There are already many services and apps that offer the opportunity for remote consultations with a healthcare professional, including the analysis of test results and the prescription of medications. We expect advances in medtech to further their proliferation.
The future of medtech
The most significant barrier to the wider adoption and proliferation of medical technology is, surely, cost. Ironically, medtech is often needed the most where resources are the scarcest. This is an ethical implication that the creators of technology should consider when designing new innovations. How much do they cost to manufacture and implement, and will they be accessible to just a few ‘lucky’ countries, hospitals, and patients?
Medtech is composed of sophisticated devices (the hardware) and the programs or apps (‘the software’) needed to run them. As the cost of hardware components goes down, advanced medical devices should proliferate more easily and penetrate even the farthest corners of the planet. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is a great example of an organization that aims to introduce innovative medical technology, that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, to the world’s poorest.
If you’re considering building embedded software or business applications for the medical industry, Verhaert Digital could be the right partner for you. Drop us a line so we can discuss your ideas further.