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50 shades of HIT

Maria Maleeva
08-03-2020 16:53
50 shades of HIT

Introduction 

Since Tech grows intensively, it’s not a surprise that all the spheres of our lives are affected by it. Nowadays you can hardly find an industry not touched by robotics, AI or Big Data. Here I would like to talk about how all of this has miraculously transformed medicine.
Technology has been conquering medicine since 50s (and now we can be sure - it’s here to stay). If we look closely at that period of time, the major focus was on health monitors, new vaccines and the first attempts to implement artificial organs. Those ambitious objectives set the pace for future innovation. So, what do we actually deal with in terms of HIT now?

Imaging and monitoring

Well, we still have a big focus on medical imaging and monitoring. You can basically scrutinize all parts of human body thanks to CT, MRI, X-Ray etc. The market estimate size medical imaging has overcome 20 billion and is not going to stop growing. As for the monitors – they have become smaller and more precise. Not so long ago the only medical apcvpliance you had at home was a thermometer. Now most of the families own at least blood glucose or blood pressure monitors. However, it’s not just about domestic medical tech. If we look closely into the recent outburst of COVID-19, remote monitors are quite useful in order to save medical workers from contracting disease. So, it’s become not just a self-assuring device but a way of protecting others.

Creating artificial body parts

Another medical endeavour that has been fascinating minds of quite a few of tech gurus is creating accurate artificial body parts. If we talk about organs, for example, the time pressure there is high. Normally an organ can be donated after a donor has died. However, the recipients are often on the clock and don’t have enough time. Thus, we can conclude that the urge of creating a perfect substitute is real. Nowadays we can distinguish three types of artificial organs – mechanical, biomechanical and biological. The difference is in the amount of living cells used in production. In terms of manufacturing, the tech industry is also going forward. Apart from hand work and plant production, 3D printing of organs is quite a hot topic right now. Finger crossed we will live in a world when it becomes widely used. Meanwhile we are still waiting on that, there is another, more safety-approved, reason for production of artificial organs. Here I am talking about medical testing. As some drugs can be truly dangerous to test on people, bioengineered tissues are a logical solution in this case. However, while these abovementioned ways of organs implementation are still a bit far away, there is one we can widely encounter – prosthetics. In this case the variety of used materials is great. One can even have a Star Wars fully functioning bionic hand now!

Medical robots

If we turn our heads towards robotics in medicine – there is a substantial advantage of it in terms of high quality performance and attention to details. Robots can even grow organs now (and, thanks to the previous passage, we know how important it is). When just not so long ago it took a day to grow an organoid, currently robots can easily produce the whole thing in 20 minutes. However, one of the most wowing features of medical robots is an ability to perform surgeries. As you can imagine the whole process demands a lot of skills, knowledge and courage, however, a robot can deal with it with a cold mind. The major upside of such surgeries is that the recovery period is much shorter due to the precision settings during the process. Robots can actually calibrate themselves to operate on the particular spot in order not to damage surrounding tissues. Moreover, they can be programmed to tape the procedure, so the next generation of robots could have an enormous amount of data to learn. Unfortunately, the common use of robotics in surgeries is still a bit farfetched (at least because of its price). Meanwhile, some other routine can easily be conducted by technology. For example, such a monotonous procedure as blood taking can be performed by robots. The automatisation of such tasks helps doctors to focus on their patients and decision-making process during diagnostic procedures.

Telemedicine

The last but not least topic I wanted to talk about is telemedicine. We’ve already touched it briefly while talking about remote health monitor. However, the topic is a bit broader I must say. The whole concept of telemedicine relies on fast and secure patients data transfer in order to conduct preliminary medical consultation and treatment. Firstly it started with doctors consulting other doctors on some complicated cases. Now, as the world speeds up, patients are also in search of fast and efficient way to save time they spend on regular check-ups and getting medical advice. As the topic is still quite controversial, the benefits of the method are vivid. Let the numbers confirm this thesis. The estimating price of the US telemedicine market is expected to grow to $64 billion by 2025. Quite impressive, right?

Сonclusion

To sum up, medical IT is on fire right now. We still encounter a few consequences and dilemmas because of such rapid growth. Nonetheless, the world will find a way to deal with them. We’ve already travelled a long way from monitoring just the basic parameters to potentially 3D printing a perfectly functioning human heart. Just give the industry time to wow us.
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