Recent report outlines this year’s emerging medical tech trends
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Technological advances and improvements in medical care are nearly synonymous, and some of the latest trends in care this year appear to be coming of age. ProClinical, an international staffing firm that connects life sciences companies with skilled professionals, has listed what it considers to be 10 of the most impactful medical technology trends for 2019.
Smart inhalers
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Inhalers are the main treatment option for asthma; if used correctly, they are effective for 90 percent of patients. To aid adherence, Bluetooth-enabled smart inhalers have been developed. A small device attached to the inhaler records the date and time of each dose and whether it was correctly administered. Data are sent to patients’ smartphones so they can keep track of treatments and control their conditions. Clinical trials have shown patients using these devices use less medicine and had more days when medicine was not needed.
Robotic surgery
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This surgery is used for minimally invasive procedures and aids in precision, control and flexibility. Surgeons can perform complex procedures that normally are difficult. As technology improves, robotic surgery can be combined with augmented reality to let physicians view additional information on patients in real time.
Wireless brain sensors
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Thanks to plastics, scientists and physicians can create electronic bioresorbable stents that can be placed in the brain and dissolve when no longer needed, according to Plasticstoday.com, a community for plastics professionals. The bioresorbable electronics can aid doctors in measuring the temperature and pressure in the brain. Because the sensors dissolve, they reduce the need for additional surgeries.
3-D printing
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3-D printers can be used to “print” pills that contain multiple drugs, helping with the timing and monitoring of multiple medications. 3-D printers also can be used to create implants and joints to be used during surgery, reducing the time for operations and improving results. 3-D-printed prosthetics are popular, as they enable significant levels of comfort and mobility.
Artificial organs
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Bioprinting also is an emerging technology. It initially was used to regenerate skin cells for skin grafts for burn victims. Now, scientists can create blood vessels, synthetic ovaries and a pancreas. These artificial organs then grow in the patient’s body to replace a malfunctioning organ.
Health wearables
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People use their smartphones for a variety of health activities, such as to track steps, achieve fitness goals and measure other metrics. In late 2018, Apple unveiled its Apple Series 4 Watch that included an integrated ECG to monitor heart rhythms, which could detect potentially dangerous conditions much quicker.
Precision medicine
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The technology is becoming more personalized to individual patients, according to ProClinical. Precision medicine helps doctors select medicines and therapies based on an individual patient’s genetic makeup. Precision medicine can be more effective than other types of treatment—for example, it can attack tumors based on specific genes and proteins, making the tumor more easily destroyed by medications.
Virtual reality
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This technology has been around for a while, but with recent technological advances, medical students have been able to have real-life experiences using the technology. Tools help them rehearse procedures and give them a visual understanding of how human anatomy functions.
Telehealth
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In a technologically driven world, surveys find that as many as 60 percent of patients prefer digital health services. Telehealth enables patients to receive medical care via their devices rather than requiring a face-to-face appointment with a doctor. Mobile apps enable patients to receive a diagnosis, get additional medical advice from clinicians, giving patients with chronic conditions consistent, convenient and cost-effective care.
CRISPR
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CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. It is an advanced gene-editing technology and works by harnessing the natural mechanisms of the immune systems of bacterium cells of invading viruses to cut out infected DNA strands. “This cutting of DNA is what has the power to potentially transform the way we treat disease,” according to ProClinical. “By modifying genes, some of the biggest threats to health could potentially be overcome in a matter of years.”