“All that technological development in healthcare shouldn’t blind your ability to measure probabilities and possibilities.”
To be conscious, objective yet optimistic, let’s explore some of the most overhyped healthcare techs without sidestepping the possibilities and that which is achievable. This ‘overhype’ is due to all the media attention which sometimes go beyond the reality and overfill with fiction. It all depends on how we perceive healthcare technologies and our ability to separate reality from that which isn’t.
In medicine, if something sounds too good to be true, be extra cautious and come clear with hard evidence before spreading the word and giving false hope. Let’s put aside that typical excitement and absolute optimism while approaching healthcare tech with rationale and evidence.
- The 3D-printed Drugs
So you imagine living in a world where you go to the pharmacy and have the personalized pills as print-outs. They’re actually the capsules you requested but only as the customized dosage that the doctor has tailored per the patient’s molecular structure. It all sounds pretty much amazing but, we have a long way to go there.
Sprite; the first 3D-printed drug used during epilepsy and can be dissolved quickly was approved by the FDA back in 2015. Since then, pharmaceutical companies are actively engaged in developing customized medicines but on a very small scale since it requires a complete re-engineering of the supply chain process. Still, hopes are high for such tailored drugs and we’re likely to see them soon.
Treat diabetes with Digital Contact lens
In 2014, Google presented a patent to the US Patent & Trademark Office on a multi-sensor, digital contact lens that can detect wearer’s blink and perform various actions based on eye movement. More details on the idea came forward later which unveiled a more transparent and different use of the contact lens especially in healthcare industry; to measure blood sugar levels from tears.
Google also vied on releasing the digital contact lens within five years with early trials, however; the company itself postponed the idea several times and was unclear on its development whatsoever. Still, we mightn’t need to wait longer for some super advance online medical care for diabetes treatment.
The concept behind telemedicine kiosks was put down by Healthspotfor quality healthcare at locations other than the typical medical facilities such as in offices and retail spaces soon. It’s perhaps the best and absolute integration of customized care and telehealth where patients can receive individualized diagnosis and treatment via healthcare apps and video communication, directly with the physician.
The idea was a major development but then the company went bankrupt only because it failed in providing the actual solution it promised. Besides, it was too expensive with a very small target market which further backfired the plan.
The microchip organs
The journey from long and costly clinical procedures to smaller microchips redefines the entire physiological system including human cells and organ models for obvious benefits.Unlimited testing of the drugs and medicinal compounds can be performed which would eventually accelerate the clinical trials and more accurate.
Organs on chips technology use stem cells to mirror the body organs with a series of different devices. Healthcare and technological experts likewise believed this to augment clinical trials, replace animal testing procedures and provide better cancer care altogether. And while the trials seem promising, we’re far from simulating the entire human body and gene makeup.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Pokémon Go dominated globally due to the true potential of augmented reality (AR) technology and even though it’s new to the healthcare line, amazing ideas of its use are already on the hype. Medical students can learn to perform dissection and about human anatomy on a virtual operation table instead of cadavers.
Whatever we use to digest from textbooks is already moving on the cloud platform and from there transforming into 3D solutions using AR. During the operation, surgeons can consult anatomical structures such as internal organs, blood vessels without ever performing operations in real.
Many companies out there are offering interactive AR solutions whereas Microsoft’s Hololens; the AR-powered goggles are available only for the developers and quite costly. But then, an American surgeon reviewed that Hololenshas user-experience limitations which is expected to improve in later versions and you might as well conduct doctor search using AR tech for a particular disease.
The Medical Tricorder
We’ve all seen Dr. McCoy from Star Trek scanned a patient using his portable handheld tri-corder which immediately displayed vital signs and various health parameters alongside relevant diagnosis. The concept represented the ultimate point-of-care medical gadget which allows immediate diagnosis and treatment of the patient irrespective of the location.
Many different experiments are performed to attain such a level in healthcare. Take for instance the Scanadu; an early stage mobile healthcare device for absolute patient’s convenience and empowerment. Then there’s the Viacom Checkmethat can measure the body temperature, trace ECG, calculate pulse rate and rhythm, the saturation level of oxygen, physical activities, systolic blood pressure, and sleep. Most of us believed that the Qualcomm Tricorder XPrizewould ultimately leads to the successful creation of such a device that works the same as Dr. McCoy’s device.
The iKnife – The ultimate Jedi-scalpel
Zoltan Takats of the Imperial College London seems to be inspired by futuristic weapons and medical technologies from the Star Wars franchise which led him to develop the intelligent surgical knife(iKnife). It’s powered by an electrical current which heats up and makes an incision on the human body without excessive blood loss.
The smoke vapors released are analyzed by a mass spectrometer to detect the chemical present in the biological sample. The technology can detect if the tissue is cancerous or not. Although the technology was overhyped for some time, it eventually disappeared as fast as it spread.
Wearable & sensors
Healthcare trackers and wearable are already dominating the market. These devices can measure health parameters, gives real-time insight into workout habits, stress levels, sleep quality, brain function during meditation and much more. Health trackers like Withings Blood Pressure and Pebble Sleep Tracker are now a part of our lives and used to collect sensitive medical data that can be shared with the doctors via special healthcare apps for further diagnosis.
We can actually prepare ourselves and the society for these incredible technologies by avoiding unnecessary hype.