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Exciting Health Information Technology Breakthroughs

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Technology breakthroughs in healthcare are changing the face of medical field. Every year, progress in technology and connecting doctors, researchers and patient data brings hope for new studies and those suffering from illness.

Medical breakthroughs are being discovered everyday and technological innovation continues to grow, changing all industries in its evolution.  Technology plays a role in almost all processes of healthcare, from patient records, monitoring, diagnostics and self-care technology.

Information Technology is helping doctors and patients to communicate better, automate, simplify and ultimately provide tools to share data and make it more understandable.

Smartphones, tablets, and wearable technology are beginning to replace traditional monitoring and recording systems, and advancements in healthcare have made patient data and services to be made available outside of hospital walls.

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Behind the Breakthrough – Biomedical Engineering

Beyond Information Technology are the scientists, researchers and engineers working on these medical breakthrougs.  Have you ever wondered who are responsible for the design and production of equipment such as MRIs, x-rays, ultrasound machines, Electrocardiographs, Nanotechnology,  Brain-Machine Interface, Eko Core, Bluetooth Pulse Oximeters, Genome editing or even robotic prostheses used by athletes?  Well, behind all of them there is always a biomedical engineer.

Biomedical engineering is a discipline that applies the principles and techniques of engineering to the field of medicine and life sciences.

This engineering is mainly dedicated to the design and construction of tools and technologies such as medical equipment, prostheses, medical devices and diagnostic and therapeutic devices.

Biomedical engineering has three important pillars:

  • Computer engineering
  • Electronics
  • Life Sciences

The ultimate goal of a biomedical engineer’s work is to preserve and improve the quality of life of human beings.

Below are some of the breakthroughs that have occurred in biomedical engineering and are having big impact and changing lives.

Here are a few technologies that offer some of the best breakthroughs in healthcare:

Electronic Health Records through Blockchain

The traditional healthcare system consists of a network of private and government organizations that have poor communication and structure between organizations.  The medical system in the US is localized and fragmented.  Since patient data is stored within multiple hospitals and with doctors, it is fragmented and not easily shareable as a comprehensive historical record.

Researchers and healthcare professionals are working in tandem to implement a concise solution.  According to MIT Research Lab, a Blockchain-based system will enable some of these organizations to exchange data in an efficient and secure manner and can help to address the fragmentation of data.  Blockchain technology can be used to generate trust and make data readily accessible to authorized users in decentralized networks. As a result, in healthcare blockchain technology can provide data more available over existing technologies.

Data Security is one of the critical most concern in the IT industry. In the first quarter of 2018, around 1.13 million patient records were compromised with 110 data breaches.

Blockchain is a technology that prevents the tampering of any data as it ensures the security of this highly confidential data.

Patient privacy/HIPPA is protected by the digital identity of the blockchain.  There can be an impact on how patients monitor their own health data. Patients who are part of the blockchain would then be able to approve or deny any sharing or changes to their data, helping to ensure a higher level of privacy and control.

Blockchain technology organizes data so that transactions can be verified and recorded through the consensus of all parties involved. It is perhaps best known for being used in the Bitcoin world as having an authoritative ledger that records and audits events.

For healthcare, this means that any data entered into a computer system or EHR/EMR can have each transaction or entry validated. This could include anything from a financial transfer to an update to an individual’s personal health record. Each new actions can be verified against an authoritative ledger of previous events.

Patient Results

A blockchain-based application can achieve better consensus on patient data. Blockchain could enable five of seven EHR functions to completely disappear from hospitals’ control.  This can include user authentication, physician credentialing, coding, reimbursement, and records retention.

The patient-provider “matchmaking” function of current EHR systems could be handled by patients themselves.  The authenticity of a patient is determined by a patient’s medical record and their treatments.  Physicians could reach into patient records directly based on their credentials.

Billing and Fraud Prevention

Blockchain-based billing is great for the Global healthcare system.   Lack of transparency in the healthcare sector has made it vulnerable to insurance and billing fraud.  This has escalated into tens of billions of dollars in money lost.

A report from the Harvard Medical School states that $ 455 billion has been lost because of fraudulent activities in Global healthcare.

The global healthcare system needs authentication and verification capabilities that the Blockchain-based application offers.  Because all medical costs and procedures could be made accessible in the context of a patient’s medical treatment, blockchain can likely reduce the incidence of fraud and errors.

More on how Blockchain Technology can revolutionize global healthcare systems

Doctor VR Will See You Now

With Facebook’s growing interest in VR technology, the future of VR seems likely to be both Web-based and collaborative.

VR has revolutionized the way healthcare operates.  It helps the Doctors to diagnose without the surgery or real cuts. It also helps in remote surgery, i.e., when it’s difficult to get the professional in time at operation location. Through remote telesurgery, a surgeon performs the procedure which helps save a life in dire need.


VR has so many benefits and can be used in varied sectors, not only for the training purposes of Dentists, Nurses or different types of Surgeries, but also to treat phobias, post- traumatic stress, Autism etc.  More on Dr. VR

Robotics

Robotics in this modern age has a lot of influence in every field and has helped make many jobs easier with automation.  The impact of robotics in information technology plays a big part in automation and the sharing of data.

Robotics – an abbreviation of robot technology – aims to produce a controlled collaboration of electronics, robot and mechanic robot through programming. The robot should execute what the human being has applied or programmed. Therefore, robotics comprises subareas of computer science, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering.

Robotic Technology is being used more and more often in hospitals, which is reflected in the growing number of robot-assisted operations.

Artificial Intelligence

Information Technology is going to have to become part of a larger strategy, integrated into an intelligent system.  AI is not a “nice to have” futuristic product feature. It’s a virtuous cycle of productivity that can collect, interpret and utilize data at a scale beyond human ability.

Many experts have pointed out that AI is going to revolutionize health care. Some experts in artificial intelligence suggest that entire areas of medical work, such as the analysis of radiological images, could be completely automated thanks to AI.

AI in healthcare can be used as a diagnostic tool.  This can help in identifying cancer stages, drug discovery. AI can help in assessing the effectiveness of chemotherapy in cancer patients. AI can also help in keeping the doctors up-to-date. Data management is easy and can optimize the schedules of patients & doctors.

AI in healthcare market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 62.2% during the forecast period 2016-2022 to touch an aggregate of $1,139.2 million by 2022.

Medical Imaging

Information Technology plays a role in medical imaging with how data can now be shared real-time with providers.

The generic term “medical imaging” is used for various techniques that make it possible to create images from inside the body.

Medical imaging is essential to:

  • create the right diagnosis,
  • detect certain diseases early,
  • help with medical procedures
  • Evaluate treatments.
  • Medical imaging not only shows us if a bone of the little finger has broken, but it can also save lives.

Studies show that medical imaging processes play a major role in future medical technology. Especially in emerging markets, experts forecast high growth rates. In the future, the systems will become smaller and simpler in operation, and their measured values digitally calculated.

Four Common Medical Imaging Techniques

  • Radiography (X-Rays)
  • Ultrasound
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
  • CT/CAT Scan

Faster Scans

GE’s ultra fast CT scanner can  capture a still image of a heart in one beat.  According to studies, about 60% of patients have heart rates of higher than 60 beats per minute and are turned away from scans because their heart beats too fast to scan.

X-Ray

X-Rays are waves of electromagnetic radiation similar to light waves. They were discovered by a German physicist named Wihelm Roentgen in 1895. There are a variety of methods that can be used to obtain X-rays.

There is also the fluoroscope, which is an X-ray device used by doctors to observe certain internal movements within the human body and perform or observe certain examinations.

X-Ray technologies are constantly improving from improved data sharing to new technologies that make it more safe, faster and reliable.

Ultrasonography – Diagnostic Technique

Ultrasonography or Medical ultrasound is divided into two distinct categories: diagnostic and therapeutic.

Ultrasound diagnosis (also known as sonography or ultrasound) is a non-invasive diagnostic technique used to produce images within the body.

Diagnostic ultrasound probes, called transducers, produce sound waves that have frequencies above the human ear threshold (above 20 KHz), but most transducers in current use operate at much higher frequencies (in the Mega Hertz (MHz) interval).

Portability of diagnostics has become increasingly convenient, especially for those who cannot get to a doctor’s office.  One example of digital diagnostics is Neurotrack, a software-based Alzheimer’s diagnostic test that can detect impairments on the hippocampus (the first area of the brain to be affected by the disease) by evaluating eye movement.

Ultrasound diagnosis can be even more sub-divided into anatomical and functional ultrasound:

Anatomical ultrasound produces images of internal organs and other structures.

Functional ultrasound combines information such as movement and speed of tissue or blood, softness or hardness of tissue.

Wearables

Technology today is a strong ally in our effort to become healthier and even lose weight. If you have a smartphone and wish to lose weight, change your diet, or improve your health, then you are in luck. In this guide, you’ll find five weight loss apps that can help you achieve your goals. Technology has made it easier for us to achieve our weight loss goals.

More on Weight Loss Wearables and Apps

Bionic Vision Right Around the Corner

Bionic lenses have been in development for over a decade. The revolution in technology is already within reach.

A team of US and Finnish bioengineers have embedded an antenna, radio receiver, control circuitry, and LED into a wearable contact lens. The technology is currently being tested by rabbits, in their research lab at the University of Washington, Seattle.

More on Bionic Vision

The healthcare industry is constantly changing, with technology complementing the way people can be treated. These are just some of the few advancements shaping the future of healthcare today. Any others you want to add? Please leave in the comments section below.

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