How Has Technology Changed Healthcare?

July 16, 2015

Can the Impact of Technology on Healthcare Really Mean No More Pain or Mistakes?

Technology in healthcare today is improving dramatically in response to the collection of massive amounts of data on patients and the world they live in. If you're not paying attention, now's the time to check in and learn more about this important trend. Otherwise, you risk missing out on all this trend has to offer.

The impact of technology in healthcare today is leading to a string of new inventions bringing down healthcare costs as well as saving lives. For example, wearable tech that tells a user when their heart is under strain can prevent a visit to the emergency room and help patients improve their quality of life.

These developments are all about the details, so how has technology changed healthcare exactly? In this article we examine some of the healthcare technology around today and see what roadblocks in the healthcare industry it might remove.

1. No More Pain: Electronic Aspirin 

Autonomic Technologies focus on new, innovative products that tackle chronic headaches and migraines. Their ATI Neurostimulator is controlled with a handheld device that blocks pain at the first sign of a headache.

Like many other pieces of medical technology, the Neurostimulator is a permanent implant in the body, which is inserted through a small incision in the gum. Trials are underway across the US to test the ATI Neurostimulator, and Autonomic Technologies are actively looking for participants in the Pathway CH-2 Cluster Headache Study.

The benefits of this new healthcare technology like this is that the patient has more control over their own treatment. If you or someone you know is affected by headaches, you can watch a video animation that demonstrates how stimulation therapy works, or read the full report on a randomized, sham-controlled study into the treatment of cluster headaches.

2. No More Needles: Injection-Free Diabetes Treatment 

Common illnesses like diabetes are a huge inspiration factor for creative minds developing technology in the medical field, pushing them towards finding cheaper and more efficient solutions for millions of sufferers. The potential in this area is enormous.

Echo Therapeutics, for instance, is focusing on technological innovations that eliminate the need for diabetes patients to draw blood using needles to test their glucose levels. This video gives a thorough demonstration of Echo's alternative, which could vastly improve the daily life of those affected by diabetes:

Echo has already completed numerous clinical trials, and an advanced prototype for the Symphony CGM biosensor is now in development.

3. No More XRay Film: Digital Images

All medical professionals know that X-ray film is expensive. The good news it that advances of technology in healthcare are making this cost redundant.

Radiology patients at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston no longer have to wait for film to be processed. Images are taken digitally and can therefore be edited and shared instantly among those helping a particular patient. Specialist input is delivered quickly using this system, and can make an immediate difference to the treatment of a patient.

What’s more, wearables like Google Glass are also set to make the radiology process even more efficient. This video from AgfaHealthCare NV shows a radiologist using a headset that feeds her information about the next patient and assists her during treatment:

4. No Drugs and Dosage Mistakes: Digital Medicines Process

The problems created by errors in prescriptions and dosages can hardly be overstated. Fortunately, innovations in technology are taking aim at these issues to create a world where such mistakes are never made. Only a decade or so ago, a report from The National Academies stated that 7,000 deaths a year in the US alone were caused by medication errors, making this is a high priority issue:

“Since 1992, the Food and Drug Administration has received nearly 30,000 reports of medication errors” -

Mission Health operates six hospitals in North Carolina and staff have seen visible reductions in medical errors in their “fast-paced environment.” In this video they talk about how they actively manage the digital medicines process with a goal for 95% compliance, which appears to be realistic. In the end, such technological changes have provided a better bedside experience for their patients, which is their ultimate ambition:

5. No More Humans: Medical Robots

We've see healthcare industry trends moving more towards robotics for years, but can they really replace the human doctor at your bedside? Disruptive innovation in healthcare like this can seem like a very large step away from medical tradition, but the RP-VITA Remote Presence Robot has already been approved for use in hospitals by the FDA. Watch the robot in action below and ask yourself how you might feel if it turned up in your hospital room:

If you'd like to consider the pros and cons of medical technology in more depth, check out our first article on the impact of technology on healthcare. Or, you can let us know if you’ve already had a good or bad experience you’d like to share.